Before going to work on March 3, 1993, Vivian Rice stopped as usual at the Silver Spring, Maryland, home of her sister, 43-year-old Mildred “Millie” Horn. This visit, however, would be anything but routine.
Vivian was surprised both garage doors were open, and she became alarmed when the door leading from the garage into the home was also standing open. She called out Millie’s name but received no response. Vivian cautiously entered and came upon a gruesome scene. The lifeless body of her nephew lay in his bed. On the floor was the body of his home care nurse. She had been shot to death. The nightmare continued as Millie ran upstairs to find her sister shot to death in her bedroom.
Vivan suspected someone from the beginning, but he had an airtight alibi, as he was on the other side of the country. Dogged detective work eventually connected the dots and brought the perpetrators to justice. The murders of Millie and Trevor Horn also resulted in a landmark legal ruling.
Larry Horn was a household name in Detroit during the 1960s. He was recognized as one of the top recording engineers and producers for Motown Records. Among his many credits was Junior Walker and the All-Star’s hit “Shotgun.” Horn went with the booming Motown when the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972.
On his flight to L.A., Horn met stewardess Millie Maree. The two began dating and married the following year. The couple had three children, a daughter Tiffani, born in 1974, and twins Tamielle and Trevor, born in 1984.
Both Horn’s career in Los Angeles and his marriage to Millie were rocky. Although Horn did have some initial success in producing records in Los Angeles, the money was not coming in as it had in Detroit. By the mid-1980s, Motown’s fortunes were waning, and Horn was laid off. In 1987, after eight years of on-again-off-again divorce proceedings, Larry and Millie finally made it official.
As his career disintegrated and his debts accumulated, Larry Horn became desperate. How he attempted to alleviate his troubles proved a devil was residing in the City of Angels.
Without much of a fight from Larry, Millie gained custody of their three children following the divorce. They moved across the country to Silver Spring, Maryland, where they lived only a block from Vivian’s sister.
On the evening of March 2, 1993, Tiffani was in her dorm room at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Tamielle was spending the night at a friend’s house. Millie and Trevor were home along with the nurse on duty, 38-year-old Janice Saunders. Trevor required 24-hour care following a botched surgery when he was only two-years-old. The incident left him with severe brain damage and had left him a quadriplegic.
Autopsies on Millie and Trevor showed they were killed at approximately 2:00 a.m. on March 3, 1993. Someone had deactivated the alarm, gained entry to the home, and attempted to make the murders appear to be a robbery gone wrong. Millie and Janice were both shot multiple times in the head. Janice had been a last-minute substitute as Trevor’s regular overnight nurse could not make it that evening. I could not find a picture of Janice Saunders.
The killer had disconnected the tracheostomy tube Trevor needed to breathe. The defenseless child was then smothered to death as the killer placed his hand over Trevor’s nose and mouth.
Larry Horn was painting the town on the evening and morning of March 2 and 3, 1993, and the town around which he was gallivanting was Los Angeles, not Silver Spring, Maryland. Horn made sure every person he came in contact with remembered seeing him. Many felt Horn was going out of his way to make his presence known.
Horn succeeded in proving he was not in Silver Spring, Maryland, on March 3, 1993. But he failed in covering his tracks.
Investigators discovered many phone calls made from payphones to Horn’s old stomping grounds in Detroit. They also found a substantial Western Union payment made under a fake name to James Perry of Detroit. Perry, a former acquaintance of Horn from the music man’s Motown days, had recently been released from prison for committing a series of armed robberies.
After months of painstaking work, detectives established the phone calls, and the payment had been made by Horn. Perry had been careful not to leave a trail, but he made one seemingly fundamental mistake. He believed by paying for his motel room in cash; he would not be asked to show identification. However, the Silver Spring motel required identification from all guests, no matter the method of payment. Perry was forced to show them his driver’s license, proving he was in Silver Spring at the murders’ time.
The felon-turned-minister James Perry was fond of reciting the Ten Commandments. However, he did not always practice what he preached as he had violated the sixth commandment of Thou Shalt Not Kill.
After several lawsuits resulting from Trevor’s botched medical procedure, a $1.7 million malpractice settlement was established in the form of a trust fund. If Trevor died, his parents were the beneficiaries. If Millie were dead as well, Larry Horn would be the sole beneficiary.
Horn’s motive for wanting his ex-wife and son dead were simple; the former Motown millionaire wanted money again, and Millie and Trevor being eliminated provided an opportunity. The former hitmaker turned to hire a hitman.
James Perry and Larry Horn were both convicted in the murders of Millie and Trevor Horn, and Janice Saunders. Perry was sentenced to death, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. He was convicted in a second trial but was spared death, instead of being sentenced to three life terms. He died in 2009.
Larry Horn was also sentenced to three life terms behind bars. He died in 2017.
The murders of Millie and Trevor Horn and Janice Saunders resulted in a unique lawsuit.
Published by Paladin Press in 1983, the book “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors” is, essentially, a blueprint on how to commit murder. In committing the murders, James Perry had followed the book’s suggestions nearly to a tee.
In “Rice v. Paladin Enterprises,” the Horn and Saunders families sued Paladin Press, claiming the company had “aided and abetted” in the murders (“Rice” is the last name of Millie’s s sister, Vivian.) The families argued that Paladin, by marketing the book as a “How-To” manual, was culpable in that the book could be used for reference by would-be criminals in the solicitation, planning, and commission of murder for hire.
In 1997, an Appeals Court ruled the book was not protected by the Free Speech/Free Press clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, and thus Paladin could be held liable for a crime committed by one of its readers.
In 1999, Paladin’s insurance company, against the wishes of Paladin Press itself, agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the families. The company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money (believed to be several million dollars) to Horn and Saunders families. In addition, Paladin decided to destroy the remaining 700 copies of the book in its possession and surrender any rights it had to publish and reproduce the work. Some praised the ruling, but others criticized it as “economic censorship.”
It is believed nearly 13,000 copies of “Hit Man” were sold, although Reason Magazine estimates there are 20,000 copies of the book still in existence. The book is allowed to be purchased from independent sellers. I also found it available for sale on both Amazon and eBay.
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Recommended Reading:The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War
More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:
Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)
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