LEWISTON — Investigators are seeking the husband of a former Turner woman who was killed last week in Michigan.

Detectives ruled the death of Sara Lee Porter-Knight, 48, a homicide.

Porter-Knight’s body was found at her home in Fennville, Mich., after her husband, Harold “Butch” Knight, 66, phoned to tip off police on Jan. 13, then fled the area. A murder warrant was issued for his arrest.

Police said Porter-Knight’s body showed signs of strangulation.

She was hired in 2007 at Central Maine Medical Center by Julia Haverinen, who had been director of the respiratory therapy department. Porter-Knight soon bought a home in Turner and settled there, Haverinen said.

“She was beloved,” Haverinen said Monday from her South Paris home. “She was a highly regarded human being.”

Haverinen said she had recruited Porter-Knight to CMMC as a respiratory therapist because of her expertise at inserting and removing breathing tubes in patients, Haverinen said.

At one point, Porter-Knight’s health faltered and she needed to recuperate, Haverinen said. Knight left CMMC two years ago after she returned to school and earned an additional health care-related degree at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College.

Porter-Knight struggled to find a job a year ago after the economy took a downturn. She moved back to Michigan in May; her husband remained in Turner.

Last fall, she sold the house back to the bank, according to her daughter, Roxanne Harris, 28, who lives in Lapeer, east of Flint, Mich. Harris is one of Porter-Knight’s three children.

Harris said Harold Knight moved back to Michigan, had set aside his wife’s money, converting her assets into cash, then absconded with it in Porter-Knight’s blue-green Subaru Forester with Maine license plates. Michigan media outlets report that the car was registered in Michigan to Porter-Knight and had the license plate GM74A.

The couple had been married for about 13 years, Harris said. There were indicators suggesting the couple’s marriage had become strained, Harris said. But her mother never told her that her marriage was in trouble and that she needed to leave, Harris said.

“She didn’t really complain about anything,” Harris said. “But we could tell they were having a few little issues about money, and when you make a big move like that, it’s always a financial burden.”

Harris said Harold Knight had been acting “strangely.” Harris and her mother’s friends had offered her a place to stay if she had needed to leave home, Harris said.

“We would have packed her up and moved her out of there,” she said. “We never saw this coming.”

Harris said her family wants to get word out about Harold Knight’s disappearance.

“We don’t know where Butch is, and that’s the scariest thing,” she said.

A Michigan-based news organization reported that the 911 caller who tipped off authorities about Porter-Knight’s body admitted to having harmed her days earlier and said he was leaving the country.

After returning to Michigan last spring, Porter-Knight had worked as a traveling respiratory therapist for a Michigan health care company.

Harris said she hopes authorities capture Harold Knight alive so that she will have an opportunity to pose some questions to him about her mother.

“I want to know what my mom — the sweetest person in the whole planet that saved millions of lives — could have done (to him) that he could have done this, why he would have done this,” Harris said. “I have so many people that have told me that, you know, she saved my dad, or mom, or my kid. I just don’t understand why he would do this.”

Porter-Knight was so popular that her Jan. 25 funeral had to be moved from a funeral home to a Beaverton, Mich., church in an effort to accommodate everyone, Harris said.

Porter-Knight was an outdoors enthusiast, who loved to hunt, fish and especially paddle her kayak. She often picked up injured or abandoned wildlife and brought animals home to try to nurse them back to health, Harris said. Knight also was a lover of lighthouses, and often took excursions through Maine and Michigan in search of lighthouses she hadn’t visited. Pictures of lighthouses decorated her mailbox and garage door, Harris said.

Harris said she found a pebble that belonged to her mother, who had carried it everywhere in her coat pocket. The stone’s worn inscription is a quote from a verse in the Bible that reads: “God is always with you.”

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