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Texas Matriarch Found Buried at Hilltop Lakes

A bazaar murder-for-hire plot that was hatched in San Saba County, found its tragic end here in Leon County on Monday of last week when an an elderly Texas matriarch was found buried in a make-shift grave in a ravine at Hilltop Lakes.

Bonnie Harkey, age 86 was a wealthy businesswoman, the owner of Harkey Pecan Farm and the holder of the Harkey family fortune.

Harkey?s caregiver, 50-year-old Karen Johnson was found murdered on Sunday, March 25th at her employer?s home near Harkeyville. Johnson?s body was found by her 10-year-old son.

A day later, on Monday, March 26th in Leon County, Bonnie Harkey?s body was discovered at the Indian Woods Campground at Hilltop Lakes.

San Saba County Sheriff Allen Brown says Harkey?s stepson Bruce Harkey has been accused of masterminding a plot that left her and her caretaker dead. Court documents state that he offered the woman?s adopted grandson, 28-year-old Carl Wade Pressley, money in a murder-for-hire plot.

Bruce Harkey was arrested Wednesday on a Criminal Solicitation of Capital Murder warrant in connection with the case.

?This is a tragedy for San Saba County,? said Sheriff L. A. Brown. ?She?s a wonderful person, been involved in a lot of things and done a lot of good things for people.?

Carl Pressley along with his common-law wife Lillian King have both been arrested and charged with the murders.

Pressley was adopted decades ago by Bonnie Harkey?s stepdaughter, had struggled financially and has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions for harassment, misdemeanor assault and probation violation. He confessed to police he carried out the murder plot after Bruce Harkey offered $500 up front to quote: ?make her gone this weekend.? When the plan was executed -- Bonnie Harkey?s stepson, Bruce, would give Pressley $55,000.

The confession reveals 86-year-old Harkey was beaten over the head and kidnapped by Pressley, and his common-law-wife Lillian King. Reports say King drove nearly 200 miles away to Hilltop Lakes where she and Pressley were renting a trailer in the Indian woods campgrounds.

Harkey was then strangled and dumped in a shallow grave. Affidavits obtained from the San Saba Count Sheriff?s office say water was found in Harkey?s lungs, which leads investigators to believe that Pressley buried his grandmother alive.

An autopsy report also revealed that Harkey suffered a severe beating and was likely alive when she was dumped into a shallow grave.

Leon County Justice of the Peace Doug Preston said the cause of death for Harkey was Homicidal Violence Comprising Blunt-Force Head Injuries and probable asphyxiation, including signs of drowning, but that it was unlikely that she was dumped into a body of water. More likely, he said, Harkey breathed in standing water from recent rains in the area.

Carl Wade Pressley, 28, and Lillian Annette King, 25 are charged in Johnson?s death. Bond is $500,000 for Pressley. King is held on $250,000 bond. Bruce Harkey was being held in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

San Saba County Sheriff L.A. Brown said he would also seek kidnapping charges against Pressley and King.

According to records in San Saba County, Harkey?s children and stepchildren have filed multiple court documents in a fight over who should be listed as Harkey?s guardians and what should happen to her considerable fortune.