Hit man, hired by quadriplegic's father in Silver Spring triple slaying, dies

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 1, 2010

James Edward Perry, serving life in prison for one of the Washington area's most shocking crimes in the 1990s, completed his sentence early Wednesday, dying in a Maryland hospital bed at age 61, officials said.

Perry, a Detroit street preacher turned killer-for-hire, bought and studied a how-to manual titled "Hit Man," then put the lessons into practice March 3, 1993, police said. He was convicted of murdering Mildred Horn, 43; her 8-year-old quadriplegic son, Trevor; and the boy's nurse, Janice Roberts Saunders, 38, in Horn's Silver Spring home.

Trevor's father, Lawrence T. Horn, a former Motown recording engineer, was convicted of hiring Perry to commit the killings in a scheme to gain control of the youngster's $1.8 million trust fund, the result of a hospital malpractice settlement.

"I'm elated," said Saunders's 84-year-old mother, Mary Lou Roberts, who was notified by corrections officials Thursday that Perry had died. "I was hoping somebody killed him," she said. "I was hoping it was something awful and lingering."

Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for Maryland's prison system, said Perry had been terminally ill. Without specifying the affliction, he said Perry was transferred late Tuesday from a prison medical facility in Jessup to a Laurel hospital, where he died.

Mildred Horn, an American Airlines flight attendant, was shot to death, as was Saunders. Trevor, paralyzed and severely retarded, suffocated after Perry dislodged an air tube that aided his breathing, evidence showed.

After Perry's original conviction in 1995 was overturned by an appeals court, he was found guilty in a second trial in 2001 and sentenced to three life terms without parole.

Lawrence Horn, now 69, who was estranged from his family and living in Hollywood at the time of the murder-for-hire plot, also was sentenced to three life terms.

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