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‘Execution Style Murder’: Local Hero And Humanitarian Shot Outside Atlanta Home
A carjacking helps lead police to the man behind the murder of an Atlanta businessman.
How could a local businessman devoted to improving his community die so violently?
Investigators faced that disturbing question on November 12, 2012, when 39-year-old Terry Porter was murdered in the front yard of his Atlanta home.
“The victim had a single gunshot wound to the back of his head,” Keith Meadows, Fulton County Chief of Police, told “The Real Murders of Atlanta,” airing Fridays at 9/8c on Oxygen.
The lack of shell casings made it impossible to determine the type of firearm used in the crime. Local law enforcement searched for other clues.
There were no signs of forced entry in the residence, but Porter’s pockets had been turned inside out. His cellphone, wallet and black 2006 Range Rover were all missing. And while Porter had a LoJack security system on his SUV, it wasn’t working, so a statewide BOLO was issued on the vehicle. Authorities believed a robbery was the motive.
From the medical examiner’s report, police determined that Porter had been killed around 2:30 a.m. The angle of the trajectory indicated that he was on his knees or the ground when he was shot.
At the scene, Porter’s brother, Levi Bias, told police that his sibling had no enemies. He also said that Porter carried sunglasses and a screen projector in his SUV.
As police focused on finding Porter’s car, they learned more about him from his family members. Born in Louisiana, Porter was a high achiever who came to Atlanta after college and worked in real estate.
“He became an integral part of the community in the West End,” said Atlanta journalist Maria Boynton. It was an area rich in history that had fallen on hard times but was showing signs of improvement.
Porter was behind some of that change. He opened and operated an assisted living facility in his neighborhood and mentored young people, garnering admiration from the community.
In the absence of enemies, investigators considered the possible involvement of squatters living in an abandoned building near Porter’s home. But that avenue was a dead end.
Police were back at square one. They used media blasts and community flyers to aid in their search for leads. Three days after the slaying, police caught a break after a tipster said that Porter’s SUV was at the Darlington apartment complex, said Meadows. The car had been there for three days, but the security camera footage got recorded over every 48 hours. Information they needed had been erased.
Around the same time, police learned that authorities from nearby Chamblee were investigating a carjacking that occurred three days before Porter’s murder. At 10:15 p.m. a woman was opening her mail when she was approached from behind. The assailant told her to get on the ground and then took her valuables and fled in her car.
Ernesto Ford, a retired sergeant with the Chamblee Police Department, saw a link between the two cases. His suspicions were confirmed when the carjacking victim’s vehicle was also recovered at the Darlington apartments, he told producers.
“We realized that we probably have two investigations that are crossing,” said Meadows.
The police departments shared information, including the carjacking victim's description of her assailant. She said he was a light-skinned Black man between 20 and 25 years old. She added that attempts were made to withdraw money from her bank account.
Security cameras captured an image of a man whom the carjacking victim said looked like the person who stole her car.
At the same time, Atlanta CSI processed Porter’s car. The team found a gas station receipt dated just after the murder. Security footage revealed a possible suspect whose picture was compared to the man in the Chamblee carjacking case.
Investigators in both cases were convinced they were after the same man. The concern was that he still had the gun that killed Porter, investigators told “The Real Murders of Atlanta.”
Four days into the murder case, police went to the Darlington apartments with a photo of the suspect. An employee knew the man only as Santana – and that he lived there with his girlfriend.
Investigators interviewed the girlfriend at her apartment in the Darlington complex. She said she only knew him as Santana and that he had picked her up a few days earlier in a black SUV.
After getting a warrant to search her apartment, a movie screen and sunglasses found there were confirmed to belong to Porter.
On November 26, detectives got a significant break. A Crime Stoppers tipster called and said that the man police were looking for was Ladarius Hardy.
Police rushed to the last known address for Hardy, which was his former girlfriend’s home. She said she hadn’t seen him in eight months.
Porter’s credit card report showed that, after his slaying, his credit card was used more than 30 times. His suspected killer went on a spending spree that totaled over $1,600. Surveillance cameras recorded many of these transactions.
Police obtained a warrant for Hardy’s arrest. While the Fugitive Task Force searched for him, detectives returned to speak with Hardy’s girlfriend. She refused to cooperate – until police told her that she would be arrested for receiving stolen property.
Porter’s belongings were found in her apartment so she was responsible. Hardy’s girlfriend gave police his cell phone number. The Task Force located Hardy at the home of his girlfriend’s mother.
Police were allowed inside and confronted the suspect. After a search of the residence, a 9mm handgun was recovered.
When detectives interviewed Hardy, he said that he knew Porter because he had tried to mentor him. Then, Hardy tried to put responsibility for Porter’s death on someone else, claiming that there was another person involved and the plan was to just steal the SUV. Detectives followed up on the claim and determined Hardy was lying.
A month after Terry Porter was murdered in cold blood, his killer was finally in custody. He was charged with murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and financial fraud, according to “The Real Murders of Atlanta.”
“We were convinced that it was an execution style murder,” said Vincent Faucette, Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.
The case never went to trial. To avoid the possibility of facing the death penalty, Hardy pleaded guilty to murder.
“He killed Terry out of envy,” asserted Bias. “He wanted exactly what Terry had. He wasn’t getting it as quickly as he wanted it. So he decided to steal it.”
Ladarius Hardy received two life sentences without the chance of parole.
To learn more about the case, watch “The Real Murders of Atlanta,” airing Fridays at 9/8c on Oxygen.