Carl Pressley and Lillian King Now? – In Dateline Season 23, Episode 43, entitled “Queen of the County,” provides an eye-opening account involving Carl Pressley and Lillian King as they investigated and ultimately admitted to orchestrating his grandmother’s murder by his uncle in Texas. A gripping tale of greed, money, and hate involved three generations of the Harkey family – yet Carl and Lillian were arrested within hours and soon began confessing their crime to law enforcement authorities. For those curious to delve deeper into Carl and Lillian’s lives, here is what we have discovered about them:
How Did Carl Pressley and Lillian King Kill Bonnie Harkey and Karen Johnson?
Riley Harkey was a prominent pecan company owner based out of San Saba, Texas, who had a daughter named Connie Katherine Sawyer Harkey, who went on to attend Texas Tech University in Lubbock and ultimately be crowned homecoming queen that same year. Following graduation, she married and relocated with her husband to Fort Worth, where they adopted an infant boy whom they named Carl Wade Pressley with strawberry blonde locks in 1984. Unfortunately, after finishing eleventh grade, Carl decided not to continue school but seek employment in Midland’s oil fields instead – not having enough interest or commitment to pursue education!
At some point during this episode, Carl lived with his grandmother Bonnie during his teenage years. Bonnie indulged his every whim, leaving Carl feeling spoiled. Upon his return to San Saba in 2003 at 19 years old, Carl married Melissa Pafford from San Saba; this marriage produced two children before eventually dissolving. By 2008 he met Lillian Annette King whom he finally had another child, yet by 2013, Carl still struggled with ADHD and often engaged in disagreements with Connie (his mother).
Carl’s addiction to meth had taken its toll on his teeth, which were worn down and yellowed from drug use. Additionally, Carl loved riding motorcycles. His criminal record included charges related to trespassing and domestic violence; in 2005, he attempted to run over his stepfather with a tractor, as per the episode’s details. Realizing the potential value of pecans as currency for his addiction Carl began targeting his family’s pecan farm and stole pecans from grandma’s barn to fund his habit of meth usage.
Shawn Oliver recalls instances where Carl would arrive with a truck full of pecans to sell, which they unwittingly purchased. Due to Carl’s difficulty controlling his temper, he was expelled from First Baptist Church after appearing at Bible study demanding money from Bonnie; their pastor explained they turned him away as they desired an environment without conflict or anger from worshipping and studying together. Carl went so far as to resort to drastic measures to force her into purchasing new tires but ultimately managed to stop short of endangering her life by being violent enough.
Though Bonnie may have occasionally expressed her discontent through outbursts, she continued to send checks for Carl. Teresa Cook recounted their attempts at convincing Bonnie to distance herself from Carl; however, this went against Bonnie’s Christian principles, and his actions harmed her. Before his passing in 1997, Riley Harkey ensured his three orchards would go to three of his children while giving his wife a life estate on his entire estate.
What Happened to Carl Pressley and Lillian King?
Carl took an unwise decision after Connie passed away in March 2011, inheriting her future interest in Prichard Orchard property worth over $500,000. Although valued at over this figure, Carl agreed to sell his rights to Bruce and John Harkey at their uncles’ prices of just $75,000. Later that same year, in August, Bruce also sent Carl a check for $7500. Carl greatly admired Bruce, who played a significant role in events leading up to Bonnie’s murder on March 25, 2012.
Carl later admitted to suffocating Bonnie with Lillian’s assistance after their failed attempt at killing Bonnie inside their own house, then persuading the disoriented octogenarian to accompany them on a drive where Carl struck Bonnie over the head with a dead tree limb and submerged her up to her ankles with water before covering her body in leaves and mud. Unfortunately for Carl and Lillian’s plot, Lillian’s mother provided information to the police, enabling them to apprehend Carl and Lillian hours later.
Carl revealed the details to authorities as Carl disclosed his involvement. Bruce paid him $100 and offered an additional $350 payment, and once Carl realized the gravity of his actions during an interview, he broke down and expressed regret, saying: “She (Bonnie) ain’t going to forgive me.” Lillian discovered her former flame had choked the caregiver before driving them all three to Normangee campground; Lillian called the police immediately to report this incident; in exchange for reduced sentences, they agreed to testify against Bruce during his trial, which would take place in April 2014.
Carl and Lillian both entered plea agreements in May 2014 and received sentences that range from life without parole for Carl to 45 years for Lillian; her attorney provided comfort when she wept uncontrollably as her punishment was the lightest among those involved; both individuals are currently 36 years old serving their sentences at Gatesville’s Hilltop Unit; parole consideration will begin for Lillian in September 2034 with her sentence set to conclude March 2057.
Must Read: Bonnie Harkey and Karen Johnson Murders