Authorities allege estranged husband was target in Missouri Avenue shootings
Thursday, October 29, 2009
By Rudi Keller ~ Southeast Missourian
Ryan Patterson and Michelle Lawrence
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Click here to download the probable cause statement in the case against Ryan Patterson
Click here to download the probable cause statement in the case against Michelle Lawrence
Click here to download the probable cause statement in the case against Samuel Ray Hughes
Update: 11:37 a.m.
A third suspect, Samuel Ray Hughes, has been charged in the case. Download the probable cause by clicking the link above. Click here to read the story about the new charges.
Jamie Lynn Orman and her 15-year-old son died Tuesday morning when a murder conspiracy aimed at Jamie Orman's boyfriend went wrong, documents filed with murder charges revealed.
Ryan Patterson, 28, entered the home that John Lawrence shared with Orman at 1224 N. Missouri Ave., in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday and shot a .44-caliber bullet through a comforter into Orman's head, Scott Eakers of the Jackson Police Department wrote in a sworn statement detailing the investigation by the Cape Girardeau/Bollinger County Major Case Squad.
Patterson went to the home, Eakers wrote, at the urging of Michelle R. Lawrence, 39, John Lawrence's estranged wife. Michelle Lawrence wanted Patterson to kill John Lawrence in the home they own jointly and burn the home to collect $350,000 insurance. She admitted buying bullets Sunday at Walmart for Patterson, Eakers wrote.
Patterson also shot Derrick Orman, 15, the charges allege. The Ormans were sleeping in separate beds in the basement of the home. Derrick Orman, who resides in Perryville with his father, was in Cape Girardeau because no classes were held in Perryville schools Monday due to a teacher training day. Jamie Orman's two other sons, 14 and 9, were also at the home sleeping. The 14-year-old called 911 after finding his brother wounded.
Jamie Orman was seven months' pregnant at the time of her death.
Patterson is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, one for each of the Ormans and one for the unborn child. He also faces three counts of armed criminal action and one count of first-degree burglary. If convicted, Patterson could be given the death penalty or life in prison without parole. He is being held on a $750,000 bond.
Derrick and Jamie Lynn Orman
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Michelle Lawrence is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. She faces five to 15 years in prison. Her bond was set at $250,000.
Patterson and Michelle Lawrence lived together at 921 Hackberry St., Apt. 111.
Michelle Lawrence is not charged with the murders of the Ormans because her intent was that John Lawrence die, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said.
Michelle Lawrence did not accompany Patterson when he went to the home on North Missouri Avenue.
"She is charged with the conspiracy for the murder that she thought was going to happen," Swingle said. "I have charged what I believe I have a good chance of winning in court."
Swingle said the case is the first time he has charged murder in the death of an unborn child.
Kelly Yates, sister of Jamie Orman, praised police for a quick and thorough job on the investigation.
More than 30 officers assigned to the Cape Girardeau/Bollinger County Major Case Squad worked from early Tuesday through the night to make the arrests. The two were arrested at Michelle Lawrence's south Cape Girardeau apartment.
"I feel confident in making these arrests that they will fully prosecute these individuals," Yates said. "They have worked quickly and swiftly and put in a lot of man-hours. Our family can't express our gratitude enough to all the officers involved in bringing these suspects in for questioning, and they have worked diligently to get it done."
The sworn statement details both the scene officers discovered after receiving the emergency call at 5:11 a.m. Tuesday, the subsequent investigation and interviews with Patterson, Michelle Lawrence and a co-worker of the two who said she was offered $15,000 to take part in the killings.
The co-worker said Patterson made the offer early Monday afternoon.
Patterson told the co-worker that Michelle Lawrence had promised to split the payoff from the life insurance policy on John Lawrence and another one on the home and the co-worker would be paid from the proceeds. About 1 a.m. Tuesday, the co-worker told Eakers, Patterson came to her home and drove her to the house at 1224 N. Missouri Ave. while on an errand for cigarettes. The co-worker said Patterson said he was "staking out my lick I am going to hit tonight."
Later, at the co-worker's home, Patterson retrieved a long, silver-colored handgun with a scope from his truck during an argument.
In an interview with investigator Bud Cooper, Michelle Lawrence and Patterson at first claimed to have been at home sleeping from 1:30 a.m. until shortly before 6 a.m. Patterson later admitted to owning a .44-caliber handgun but said he sold it at 10 p.m. Monday. He also admitted going to the North Missouri Avenue home but said he had gone there intending to burn John Lawrence's pickup truck and left without doing anything.
In the probable-cause statement, Eakers wrote that a red gas can was found at 1224 N. Missouri Ave. the day of the killings and that John Lawrence told investigators the gas can wasn't his.
Discussed for days
In a separate interview with detectives Darren Estes and Don Perry, Michelle Lawrence said she and Patterson had been discussing how to kill John Lawrence for more than a week. The timing was crucial because she would not receive the life insurance payout or the homeowners insurance settlement if John Lawrence was not killed and the home burned before their divorce was final. The divorce was set for a Jan. 22 trial date during a court hearing in Jackson hours after the murders.
Michelle Lawrence admitted purchasing the bullets "after a conversation with Ryan Patterson that if John Andrew Lawrence was 'gone' she and Ryan and her children and his children would all be 'on Easy Street.'" Michelle Lawrence told the investigators she did not kill either Orman and did not intend for Patterson to hurt Derrick Orman.
Derrick Orman was a student at Perryville High School, where district officials have provided crisis counselors to help students deal with the loss of their classmate, superintendent Kevin Dunn said. Several students were with the counselors Wednesday morning, he said.
Derrick Orman was a fun-loving young man, Yates said. "Derrick was a typical teen. He loved skateboarding and hanging out with his friends. He loved going to the skate park."
Yates described her sister as "a happy, cheerful, loving mother. She was a great sister."
Orman worked as a certified nurse's aide at Saint Francis Medical Center.
Orman was in the final stages of a pregnancy, expecting her fourth child and first with John Lawrence. The child was a boy, and the couple planned to name him Joseph Daniel Lawrence, Yates said. "He passed away when she did. We view it as we lost a second nephew."
The charges mean only the beginning of a long process before the family receives justice, Yates said.
"It doesn't end when we lay them to rest," Yates said. "It is going to be a long process, and the family is aware of that."