ATLANTA -- The woman accused of killing her ex-husband's girlfriend said she wanted to send a message to the woman to stay away from her former husband, according to the lead police detective, who says the ex-wife had an accomplice who confessed and implicated her.
Petra Reese and James Lloyd are facing murder charges in connection with the death of Karen Lee LaForge. Investigators believe Reese contacted Lloyd to conspire to hurt LaForge.
Laforge was found by her boyfriend outside of his Roswell home in January. Her shirt was wrapped around her neck, and she had a large gash on her head, investigators said. They also found her blood splattered on the side of the home, as well as a bloody paving stone.
ORIGINAL STORY | Woman found dead outside Roswell home
In a probable cause hearing Thursday in Fulton County Superior Court, Detective Andrew Kirk of the Roswell Police Department testified that Reese was "very unhappy" about the relationship between her ex-husband and Laforge, which began during their separation period. Joe and Petra Reese were married 38 years before their divorce in September of 2016.
Multiple attempts were made by Reese to keep tabs on her ex-husband's new romance, Kirk said. He said Reese hired a private investigator to keep tabs on her ex-husband's movements, along with placing audio devices in the house they once shared.
"This may be over in court, but it's not over," Kirk said Reese told her ex, Joe Reese after a contempt of court hearing against her in early January -- a hearing that was an offshoot of their difficult divorce, according to Kirk. Thirteen days later, Karen LaForge was murdered.
Kirk said that investigators were able to connect Reese and Lloyd based on a text message exchange prior to the murder.
Kirk said Lloyd told police during his confession that Petra Reese wanted him to "rough up" LaForge and send the message to stay away from her ex-husband. According to Kirk, Lloyd said that he confronted LaForge outside of the home, threatening her verbally and pushing her around. When he turned away, he claimed Laforge jumped on his back, which caused him to flip her over to the ground. Kirk said Lloyd told police that he then grabbed her shirt and wrapped it around her neck until she became limp, then checked and found a light pulse before he ran away.
Investigators said Lloyd told them Reese promised to pay him "handsomely" for the act. Lloyd said no amount was ever agreed on, but Reese promised him a payout after the home she had shared with her ex had sold.
Kirk also said Reese went back to the house herself, found LaForge in the yard, and struck her head with a paving stone. The medical examiner later determined that LaForge died of strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.
This isn't the first time Reese has allegedly looked for "hit man" services. Investigators said Reese tried to hire an unknown person to "take care of" her ex-husband, but the man disappeared with her money
Reese reportedly left two confession notes the day after the murder, including one on the truck of her ex-husband. One read: "I did not want to hurt her, but she screamed. I'm sorry."
The other note, addressed to the Roswell Police Department, was found on an unrelated vehicle in a Kroger parking lot in Johns Creek. It read, "She was pretty. I did not want to hurt her. I hit her two times. I am sorry."
Kirk said Reese denied having anything to do with LaForge's death, and produced a supermarket receipt for a loaf of bread that she said she bought early that morning at about the time LaForge was killed. Kirk said the medical examiner was not able to determine the exact time of death, and that LaForge could have been killed later in the morning, after LaForge had been at the supermarket.
The judge found probable cause to indict Lloyd on charges of malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault. Lloyd will continue to be held in Fulton County Jail without bond.
Petra Reese has two weeks to find an attorney to represent her at her next appearance, and she is also being held at the Fulton County Jail without bond.
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