Summary

Birth:
31 Aug 1948 1
Stuart, Florida 1
Death:
26 May 2007 1
Minneapolis, Minnesota 1
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Personal Details

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Also known as:
Howard Porter 1
Full Name:
Howard Edward Porter 2
Birth:
31 Aug 1948 1
Stuart, Florida 1
Male 1
Birth:
31 Aug 1948 2
Death:
26 May 2007 1
Minneapolis, Minnesota 1
Cause: Homicide 1
Death:
25 May 2007 2
Burial:
Burial Place: Washington Park Cemetery in Orlovista, Florida 1
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Occupation:
probation officer, basketball player 1
Race or Ethnicity:
African American 1
Education:
Institution: Villanova University 1
Place: Philadelphia PA 1
From: 1967 1
To: 1971 1
Social Security:
Card Issued: Minnesota 2

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Stories

Howard Porter, 58, Villanova All-American

 

Ramsey County probation officer Howard Porter has died. The former Villanova standout basketball player died Saturday night, more than a week after he was found severely beaten in an Minneapolis alley. He was 58. Police are awaiting a report from the medical examiner to determine the cause of death.

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) - Howard Porter's grace and power on the basketball court led Villanova to remarkable heights.

The drug addiction that followed an unsuccessful NBA career brought him crashing down, but a tale of redemption that allowed him to return to Villanova's good graces and help troubled adults in the Twin Cities has been derailed by his mysterious death.

Porter, one of the best players in Villanova basketball history, died Saturday after he was found severely beaten in an alley a week ago. He was 58.

It was a bizarre ending to an inspirational story.

Porter went missing on May 18 after leaving his St. Paul home. He was found without identification, bloodied and beaten in an alley, a day later. Authorities didn't know at the time that the man brought to the hospital as an unknown assault victim was Porter, and he remained hospitalized through his death.

Police are still trying to piece together exactly what happened to a man who had his share of problems, but emerged from a drug rehab program in Minnesota in 1989 and turned his life around.

They have no suspects and have not made any arrests, and are unaware if the attack had anything to do with his work as a probation officer for Ramsey County.

The shocking death has shaken the Villanova community.

"Howard provided so many Villanovans with thrills on the basketball court playing for coach (Jack) Kraft," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement released by the school. "Since his playing days ended, he has been an outstanding role model for our current players and coaching staff."

Porter grew up in Sarasota, Fla., leading his local high school to the state championship before a brilliant career at Villanova. From 1968-71, the 6-foot-8 Porter averaged 22.8 points and 14.8 rebounds and led the Wildcats to the 1971 NCAA title game, where they lost to UCLA.

He was voted the tournament's outstanding player, an honor later vacated because he had been dealing with an agent before the season ended. Villanova's 1971 runner-up finish also was vacated. The scandal tarnished his reputation in Philadelphia for a time, but the fences were eventually mended.

The school retired his No. 54 jersey in 1997 and Porter bonded with the 2006 team that played in Minneapolis during the NCAA tournament.

Wright raved about Porter's impact on the team during that run, and star guard Randy Foye forged a special relationship with the school's career rebounds leader once he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"The guy was a legend," Foye said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "I met him two or three times at Villanova, but our relationship really grew when I came to Minneapolis. He was just always there, always offering to help me out with anything I needed, if I had any questions about basketball or life in general."

Porter learned plenty of lessons during a life filled with ups and downs. He was drafted 32nd overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1971, but his NBA career never fulfilled the promise he showed in college. Porter also played for Detroit and New York, but he began using drugs when his career flamed out.

"I took a ride with the devil," Porter told the Star Tribune in a 2001 interview. "And the devil picked me up and rolled me for a while. But I always knew, deep down inside, I felt God wasn't through with me yet."

By 1985, he was out of money, addicted to cocaine and sleeping on the couch at his mother's house in Florida, the newspaper reported.

Once he completed a rehab program in Center City, Minn., Porter decided to stay in Minnesota. He became a probation officer for Ramsey County in 1995, where he supervised adults who had been released from prison or sentenced to probation.

He oversaw violent and nonviolent offenders, making sure they followed the law, as well as terms of their release.

St. Paul man charged in death of Howard Porter

Former college basketball star Howard Porter was robbed, beaten and dumped miles away to die after he went to a St. Paul woman's home, apparently to trade drugs and money for sex with her, according to a murder charge filed Tuesday against a St. Paul man.

Co-workers of Porter, a Ramsey County probation officer for the past 13 years, said the focus should remain on bringing the killers to justice, rather than what may have been a relapse for a man whose life had been marked by spectacular highs and lows.

On Tuesday, Rashad A. Raleigh, a 29-year-old with a history of assaults, theft and robbery, was charged with second-degree murder in Porter's death.

Porter was found May 19 in a north Minneapolis alley, severely beaten and robbed of his jewelry and other personal effects. He died eight days later without regaining consciousness.

Raleigh was an associate of a woman who lived at 389 Sherburne Av., who told police that she took Porter there after he agreed to give her crack cocaine and money in exchange for sex.

The woman, Tonya Evette Johnson, told police that after she and Porter arrived at her residence, four masked men broke in and beat Porter. She was arrested recently in connection with Porter's slaying but released without charges. Police, however, say that Raleigh may not be the only person to ultimately face murder charges.

On May 18, the night that Porter disappeared, Raleigh needed money, according to the criminal complaint. Among other things, he needed to pay a $228 fine and court costs in Ramsey County. He paid that fine on May 19 -- the day after Porter was last seen alive.

Porter, 58, was a former Villanova University basketball star who had struggled with cocaine addiction and a drug possession conviction before rehabilitation in 1989 with the help of Hazelden, near Center City, Minn. He became a Ramsey County probation and parole officer in 1995.

"I took a ride with the devil," Porter had told the Star Tribune in a 2001 interview. "And the devil picked me up and rolled me a while."

The woman who claims to have last seen him alive, Johnson, 33, also known as Tonya Washington, has a previous conviction for drug possession. Neither she nor Raleigh were ever Porter's probation clients, corrections officials said Tuesday. The court papers say that she and Porter had met for the first time on the night he was attacked.

At the probation office where Porter worked, there was gratitude on Tuesday for the arrest of a suspected killer, said Chris Crutchfield, deputy director of community relations and external affairs for Ramsey County Community Corrections. Crutchfield said because of the ongoing investigation, his office would not comment on the possibility that Porter had relapsed before he was slain.

"Howard was not on duty when this happened, and it doesn't appear to have anything to do with his job," Crutchfield said Tuesday evening. "This was a heinous, heinous crime, and we are all focused on bringing those people to justice for their vicious acts."

The complaint traces the last known movements of Porter. Anaya Neal, the daughter of Porter's fiancée, Theresa Neal, told police that he had dropped her off at an Iglehart Avenue address between 8 and 8:30 p.m. on May 18.

Porter was driving a loaner vehicle, a 2007 champagne-colored Cadillac DeVille. It was likely that he was wearing a gold-and-diamond pinky ring, a gold D-shaped ring with small diamonds, a gold diamond ring and a Mondovi watch, his fiancée told police.

Hours after Anaya Neal last saw Porter, Minneapolis police and firefighters found an unconscious man who had no identification and wore no jewelry.

It was 5:30 a.m. on May 19. The man had traumatic brain injuries and was clad only in blue shorts as he lay in an alley in the 3700 block of Girard Avenue N. He was identified as Porter the next day after Minneapolis fire personnel contacted St. Paul police, who had been looking for Porter and had asked for the public's help in locating the probation officer. His car, with blood on it, was found in St. Paul.

Porter died May 27 at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale of blunt-force trauma injuries, including to his brain.

On June 1, an anonymous caller told police that the two people responsible for Porter's death lived at 389 Sherburne Av., and one of them was Raleigh. But those people had moved, the caller said.

Police checked the residence and found it unoccupied. They could see that a carpet had been removed, and also what appeared to be blood stains at the bottom of the doorway. A neighbor told police that people had hauled many items out in garbage bags earlier that day. Police searched the house and found more blood and blood spatters throughout it, the complaint says.

Police located Johnson on June 2, and she told them that she had no involvement with Porter.

Soon, Johnson again contacted an investigator, saying she wanted to provide more information. Johnson then told police that on the night of May 18, she was street-walking on Sherburne Avenue near her apartment when a "big pretty car" pulled up. She told the black male driver -- later identified as Porter -- that they could go to her apartment for sex.

At her residence, she later told police, four masked men rushed in and threw her to the floor, then went to Porter and demanded money and drugs. She said they beat him and that "there was blood everywhere."

She was jailed on suspicion of being involved in Porter's slaying, and was later released without charges, although police said at the time that they continue to believe she is connected to the death.

Crime described in calls

As police continued to investigate, they learned from phone company records that someone at the Sherburne Avenue residence had been talking to someone at the Ramsey County Workhouse on several occasions. Such calls are recorded, so police obtained tapes from the dates in question, including a call made the same day that Porter was found severely beaten.

Police identified Raleigh as talking to a workhouse inmate and saying:

• That Johnson brought Porter to the house, where Raleigh, who needed money, robbed Porter.

• That Johnson and a person he called "Killer" were present and that Porter tried to run away, the complaint says.

• That Porter "rushed" him and "didn't go along with the program." Raleigh allegedly told Porter to "just lay down." Raleigh also said that Porter's body was found in Minneapolis, although the attack took place at the Sherburne Avenue address.

The tape also contains statements made by Johnson in which she said she wasn't "losing any sleep or getting any grey hair" over Porter's death, the complaint says.

Porter's fiancée, Theresa Neal, was unavailable for comment Tuesday evening.

"Our hearts continue to go out to the family," Crutchfield said. "This is something we think about all the time and have been working with police on from the day it happened, and continue to do that. We're very happy that they've made an arrest."

MINNEAPOLIS -- A prostitute who was with former Villanova basketball star Howard Porter on the night he was beaten aided and abetted his killing, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday. Porter, 58, died May 26, a week after he was found unconscious in a Minneapolis alley. Tonya Evette Johnson, 33, is charged with second-degree murder for her role in Porter's death. She told authorities that she was walking near her St. Paul apartment when she approached Porter for a "date." Johnson said she brought Porter to her apartment to exchange sex for money and crack cocaine when four masked men rushed in and beat him, according to the complaint. Johnson told police she knew one of the men was Rashad Arthur Raleigh, 29, who has been charged with second-degree murder. The investigation is ongoing. Porter disappeared the night of May 18 after leaving his St. Paul home. He was found in Minneapolis the next morning, badly injured and without identification. Authorities didn't know at the time that the assault victim brought to the hospital was Porter, and he remained hospitalized until he died. His car was found in St. Paul. According to the complaint, Johnson, also known as Tonya Evette Jones, told authorities in a Sept. 4 interview that she believes the door to her residence was locked and that Raleigh had a key. Johnson also said she cleaned up Porter's blood in the apartment after the beating. In a phone call at the residence on May 23, Johnson is recorded as saying she wasn't "losing any sleep or getting any gray hair" over Porter's death. She also used expletives and said she didn't care about it. The complaint said Johnson admitted it was her voice on the recording but denied that she was talking about Porter's beating and death. In a series of recorded calls, the complaint said, Raleigh told a caller from the Ramsey County Workhouse that Porter had "rushed" him and "didn't go along with the program." Raleigh allegedly said that he robbed Porter because he needed money but that Johnson had come up with the idea. Porter was a standout at Villanova, leading the Wildcats to the 1971 NCAA championship game and was selected outstanding player of the tournament despite the Wildcats' loss to UCLA in the final. But he was stripped of his award and the team's accomplishments were wiped from the record books after it was learned he had begun dealing with an agent before the season ended. Porter was drafted 32nd overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1971 and played seven professional seasons, including stints with Detroit and New York, but never achieved the success he had in college. He became addicted to drugs and came to Minnesota for treatment. He decided to stay and became a probation officer for Ramsey County in 1995. Those who worked with Porter said he often used his past struggle with drugs to show his probation clients that they, too, could turn their lives around. The complaint said an autopsy showed no drugs in Porter's blood when he died. "That is good news," said Chris Crutchfield, spokesman for Ramsey County Community Corrections. "Again, we want to stay focused on catching the people who did this. It's even better news that [authorities] have made another arrest."

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