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Death puzzles those who know stepdad

By Nolan Clay, Randy Ellis and Ann Weaver Published: December 11, 2005
MEEKER - Kelsey called him Daddy Mike.

Michael Lee Porter, 25, accused of murdering his new stepdaughter Oct. 11, is known to friends as a good young man who played basketball at Shawnee High School and took over the family business after his father and mother died.

He also has a reputation as a loving father of his own two children, Whitney, 8 and Michael, 2, and as a good stepfather to Kelsey Smith-Briggs, 2.

"She'd go in there and sit on his lap and play on his computer," said Waunita Ward, his company bookkeeper. "He'd come out in the office to get her cookies or candy bars."

He began dating Kelsey's mom, then Raye Dawn Smith, after they met at Hot Rods, a bar in Shawnee, in the fall last year. They quickly became an item.

"When he got with that girl, he was in a daze. ... He was so in love with her. If she said, 'Jump, roll over backwards,' he'd do it," said Wendell Kelley Jr., a friend and employee.

Friends said they warned him about his new girlfriend, that she had a wild reputation and was coming out of a bad marriage.

"That girl had a temper. She'd throw tantrums," Kelley said.

Ward said, "I told him, 'There's too much drama in her life right now. You need to stay out of it.' He said, '... I feel sorry for her.'"

Kelsey's father, Lance Briggs, was away in the military most of this year. His family said they initially were happy about the relationship.

Kelsey's grandmother, Kathie Briggs, said: "We had heard that he was a really nice guy and we were excited for her that she was with somebody that had two children of his own, and we thought, 'Great, they'll have a good family.'

"When the abuse started, we didn't know who did it. We still really don't. There were a couple of times that Kelsey made reference to Mike when she was talking about her injuries, but she was 2, so you couldn't really just sit there and question her detail to detail about stuff."

Still, the two got married April 18 before a judge in the county courthouse in Shawnee.

He, Raye Dawn and Kelsey then posed for a picture on the courthouse steps. He wore a pullover shirt, jeans shorts and tennis shoes.

Kelsey had been taken from her mother in January after breaking her collarbone. The mother was allowed visits and eventually got Kelsey back in June.

Their marriage has fallen apart since Kelsey's death. From jail, Mike Porter has filed for divorce. His wife, who is pregnant, wants to deny him visitation once their child is born.

The family business
Mike Porter is president of the family business, Midwest Industries Inc., a magnet manufacturing company that has a dozen or so employees.

The company makes magnets for a variety of purposes including computer keyboards, cell phones and magicians.

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