Smoking meth wasn't the only illegal activity going on in the basement of Windy and Tony Friends Forest Park apartment in April of 2011.
The state's star witness, Phillip Friend, told jurors at his stepmother Windy's first-degree murder trial that the planning to kill Rusty and Becky Porter began about two weeks before the couple was kidnapped in the middle of the night on April 17 - 18th from their home near Willard.
The Porters lived on a 120 acre family compound off of HH Highway. Rusty's mother Kay Simmons and his uncle Robert Campbell also lived on the family property.
Windy and Tony Friend were in dire straits that spring. Phillip Friend testified that he, his father Tony, and his cousin Dusty Hicks stole a lot of property, mostly four wheelers and heavy equipment. Some of that stuff ended up at the property of Tony's brother-in-law Robert Campbell.
Phillip said he eventually agreed to help kidnap the Porters, who Tony said "were snitches." Tony told his son "they had to get rid of their [the Porters] family or they [Robert and Carolyn Campbell] will get rid of mine."
"I told my father I wasn't comfortable with that kind of work. I'm used to stealing four wheelers.....not a person," Friend told jurors.
In the months before the couple went missing Robert Campbell and Rusty Porter were involved in a bitter dispute. It had gotten so bad the Porter's put up surveillance cameras on the outside of their home. Each had filed orders of protection against each other---the cases were dropped when they agreed to stay away from each other.
According to testimony, one of the reasons for the discord was the transfer of the family homestead that Kay made to Rusty.
On April 16th another meeting was held in the basement of the Friends' apartment. Present were Windy Friend, Tony Friend, Dusty Hicks, Phillip Friend, Robert Arnold and Autumn Huff, a 16 year-old runaway.
|Basement of Windy and Tony Friends former aparment|
Between smoking meth and cigarettes the plan to kidnap the Porters was put in motion. At some point in the 24 hour "meth bender" Phillip said he, his dad and Dusty Hicks all took showers" to wash any loose hairs" off their bodies the evening of April 17th "so we wouldn't leave behind any of our DNA."
Tony told his son he was being paid to "take two birthdays."
On the way to the farmhouse the Porters had recently renovated there was a stop. Dusty Hicks went into the Wal Mart at Kansas Expressway and I-44. He came out with a bottle of bleach that would be used later.
|Porters home day they were reported missing (courtesy Springfield News Leader)|
When Windy, Tony, Phillip and Dusty arrived at Robert Campbell's property that night Tony was driving. When Tony got out he took duct tape and wrapped it around the bottom of his pants legs and around the gloves he put on his hands. He tied a bandana around his face.
Phillip put on a paintball mask and Dusty put on a bandana to conceal their identities. Tony had a gun....so did Dusty.
Windy, 32, waited in the truck--Phillip and Dusty went through the woods one way to the farmhouse - Tony took another route. When they all met up near a corner of the home where Rusty and Becky slept there was "an angried whispered discussion" between father and son when they discovered that all the doors and windows to the home were secured. "We had to decide whether to cut bait or kick the door in and take them," Phillip said.
|The kitchen window with the cut window screen that Dusty Hicks entered|
Dusty Hicks had walked around the back of the house and discovered that the kitchen window was unlocked. Tony lifted Dusty up to the window. He cut the screen, slid the window open and slipped inside the dark house.
Hicks then opened the back door for Tony and Phillip. The trio then made their to the sleeping couples bedroom. They flipped on the light and "they started screaming," said Phillip. "Tony told them to shut up or he would blow their brains out."
The terrified couple kept asking "why," Phillip told jurors. "Dusty told them were just going to have a little talk."
Becky, who had on a t-shirt and zebra striped pajama bottoms, was ordered to get the couples ID's out of her purse and her cell phone. She and Rusty, who only had on a pair of underwear and socks, were then handcuffed with zip ties and marched at gunpoint out of the house.
Dusty went back in and stole a computer tower because Tony believed it was set up to video cameras on the roof of the house. He also splashed bleach throughout the house "to destroy DNA in case any came off us," said Phillip.
Tony called Windy. She pulled the truck, with the lights off, to the front of the Porters house and Rusty and Becky were thrown in the back seat.
Tony drove- Phillip was in the middle of the front seat and Windy in the passenger seat. Dusty was in the backseat holding a gun on Rusty and Becky. Tony made everyone take their batteries out of their phones "so we couldn't be tracked." Everyone took off their masks before they got to town, according to Phillip.
Tony dropped Windy off at I-44 and proceeded to Highway 65. They then took Highway 60 to Sparta and made their way to Cedar Creek, an area where Tony Friend had spent time as a child.
Phillip said they backed into a wooded area and Tony parked. Tony grabbed the Porters out of the backseat. He held a gun on the them as he made them walk about two miles in the middle of the night to a dilapidated shed in the middle of nowhere.
|Becky and Rusty Porter|
Phillip said he put the battery back in his phone after he heard a gunshot. He got a hold of his dad who said "he was just scaring them." About ten minutes later he heard another gunshot.
Tony came back to the truck alone...."I knew in my gut he [Tony] was going to kill them."
When Merrell asked Phillip Friend why Becky was kidnapped he replied...."because she was there."
Phillip said the zip ties used to bind the Porters were thrown in a river on the way back to Springfield. The computer and the ID's, which were supposed to be given to the Campbell's as proof that the job had been completed, were burned off a rural farm road.
Phillip Friend said his father began to panic about a day after the murders and said they would have to go back and bury the bodies.
Dusty, Phillip and Tony rode two miles on stolen four wheelers to the shed that held Rusty and Becky's bodies. They dug holes and Tony "dragged" the couples remains over to them. Chains were then placed on the corners of the rotting building and the four wheelers pulled in opposite directions. They building collapsed on the Porters remains.
|Area where Porters remains were discovered|
"Tony said it was an old building and it wouldn't take much to bring it down....but it did," Phillip remembered.
It was several months before the Porters' skeletal remains were found near Protem and Cedar Creek. When Phillip was questioned he told investigators that he didn't believe his father was involved but if he was their bodies would be in Cedar Creek.
Phillip said his father told him that his aunt, Carolyn Campbell, wanted Dusty taken care of. "He said Dusty was a loose end and would talk and we would get caught." Phillip said he told his father he wasn't having any part in taking his cousin out.
A cousin of Tony's told investigator's about an area in Cedar Creek/Protem Road that Tony liked to play at as a child. That is where Rusty and Becky's skeletal remains were found.
When Robert Campbell's property was searched shortly after Rusty and Becky went missing a stolen tractor was recovered, according to testimony.
Autumn Huff, the 16 year-old runaway who watched Tony and Windy's kids the night the Porters went missing, delivered Phillip Friend's son 8 months after the double homicide.
In a taped interview that took place when she was arrested on a Grand Jury murder indictment Windy said she had no knowledge of any plan to kidnap or murder the Porters. She also said she wasn't involved in the clean up or transport of the couple.
"Never met 'em before in my life," she said.
She did admit that Tony told her he had "done a big job for Robert." She said about a month after the Porters went missing Tony was mad---he hadn't been paid and they were losing their apartment.
Windy said Robert wouldn't talk about anything on the phone so they went out to the Campbell's to talk. Tony went in while she and their two children waited outside. They were going to be moving to an RV that was owned by Campbell's son, Tim, Tony told her.
Windy told Greene County Sheriff's Detective Scott Britton that after she was questioned about her knowledge about the couples disappearance she asked her husband if he was involved.
According to Windy he said, "You're not going to like it and you won't love me as much." When she asked him "did you do it?" He responded, "Yes, I had some part of it."
During the recorded statement Windy broke down when talking about her husband's colon cancer diagnosis and her children.
Dr. Keith Norton of Southwest Missouri Forensics and Dr. Harrell Gill-King of the University of North Texas said Becky was identified through DNA, dental records and her zebra striped pajama bottoms. Rusty through DNA and surgical X-Rays. The scientific experts couldn't pinpoint a cause of death other than "homicidal violence" as both were shot execution style in the back of the head.
Testimony resumed Monday (03-31-14) in Windy Friend's trial and her defense attorney called her to the stand.
The state took custody of Windy when she was little and placed her with her grandmother because both her parents were "drug addicts and alcoholics."
Windy told jurors that her sister was married to Tony before her. Her sister, Samantha, was killed in a car accident and she and Tony were married several years after that.
She said Tony told her that he had colon cancer and she would drop him off at Mercy hospital for "radiation" treatment. Windy found out through discovery in her murder case that Tony had lied to her.
Before their marriage Tony had been run over by a vehicle and had 17 vertebrae "sheared off." Hydrocodone no longer worked to control his pain and he was prescribed Morphine. Windy told jurors that they would alter the pill and melt it down to a liquid form and she would shoot her husband up with the drug.
He was in constant agony and very sick in April of 2011, according to Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell. Tony needed Windy to help complete the job, Merrell said.
Windy Friend said she had no knowledge that any plan to kidnap or murder the Porters was going on in her basement in the spring of 2011. She also has no knowledge of anyone smoking or using meth in her basement.
She also said she has no part in the kidnapping or double homicide.
Merrell then asked her who called her son's school the morning after the Porters disappeared. Windy's cell phone was pinging off of cell phone towers that surrounded crime scene 1 (the Porters home and crime scene 2 where their skeletal remains were found) the night and following morning following the Porters kidnappings.
Windy told jurors that she did not keep her cell phone with her the night the Porters were kidnapped as she was in an upstairs bedroom of the apartment tending to her sick children and her phone was downstairs. She said Autumn Huff, the 16 year-old runaway staying at her house, had access to her phone.
David Arnold told jurors that Windy started blowing up his phone about 3:30 a.m. on April 18th. Merrell showed jurors a printout of Windy's phone bill and said cell phone pinging showed she was in the area of I-44 when she made those calls. Exactly where Phillip Friend had earlier testified Tony had dropped her off.
Windy did admit that she told people that Tony "had done a big job for Robert Campbell that was gonna take care of all their problems." She insisted that the job was stealing four wheelers and heavy equipment.
Windy told jurors that after the couple moved the RV that Tim Campbell gave the Friends Tony and her biological mother got in a fight and the police were called. The RV was stolen and the Friends were charged with receiving stolen property.
When Merrell asked her about not being able to read or write Windy said she "graduated with a fourth grade reading level." She also admitted that she regulary corresponds with her husband, whom she said she "will always love."
In his closing argument, defense attorney William Fleischaker told jurors they should question Phillip Friend's testimony against his stepmother.
"He’s here to make the best presentation he can make. He knows that, if he does a good job, and if he tells the truth as he sees it, then he believes he believes he’ll get a better deal. He’ll get the 15 (years) instead of the 20," said Fleischaker.
Merrell told jurors in his closing argument that Windy Friend had numerous opportunities to help herself. "Despite Windy having every opportunity to tell detectives the truth, she chose to try to mislead them at every opportunity: four recorded statements and grand jury testimony and her testimony here this morning, all full of contradictions, discrepancies, lies. Why would that be, ladies and gentlemen? Well, I propose that is because Windy Friend is deeper than the detectives gave her credit for,"Jurors got the case about 5 p.m. --- four hours later they came back with two guilty verdicts.
Five people were indicted for the Porters' murders. Phillip Friend pleaded guilty to amended charges of second-degree murder and two counts of felonious restraint. He is serving seven years on the felonious restraint charges and will be sentenced to no more than twenty years in prison after he testifies in the remaining two trials.
Dusty Hicks, who is also charged with first-degree murder and felonious restraint, is scheduled to stand trial on August 14th.
Robert Campbell faces identical charges and is set to stand trial in October 16th.
When asked why Carolyn Campbell has not been charged in connection to this crime Merrell said, "the investigation in ongoing and there could be additional people charged at some point."
Tony Friend pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and felonious restraint last year.
At his plea hearing last December Taney County prosecutor Jeff Merrell said if the case were to proceed to trial, "The State would intend to present evidence that Robert Campbell hired and enlisted Tony Friend [who is Campbell's brother-in-law,] to kill Russell and Rebecca Porter." Merrell told the court that a week-and-a-half before Rusty and Becky went missing Tony Friend, 46, was telling people that "he had a job to do, and the job was one hundred thousand dollars for two birthdays."
The only sentence available for Windy Friend, who is scheduled to be sentenced June 12th, is the same ones her husband was sentenced to....life without parole.
We will find out then if those sentences will be ordered to be served consecutive or concurrent to one another.
UPDATE: 04-01-12 @ 5:00 p.m.