A Quincy woman who has been questioned about the killing of fashion writer Christa Worthington was a key figure in the prosecution of Dirk Greineder, the Wellesley doctor convicted last summer of murdering his wife, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the Worthington case.
State Police Sergeant James Plath, who is leading the investigation into Worthington's slaying in Truro, would not comment last night on Beth Porter's connection to the two cases.
A woman answering the phone at Porter's mother's home, identifying herself as Porter's sister, said Porter would not comment on the Truro investigation. "She's devastated by all this," she said.
Porter's involvement deepens the mystery surrounding the death of Christa Worthington, a freelance writer found stabbed to death Jan. 6 on the kitchen floor of her Truro home. Worthington's 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Ava, who was found beside her mother's body, stands to inherit her mother's $700,000 estate.
The first days of the investigation focused on the close-knit off-season Cape Cod community where Worthington was raising her child, who was fathered by a married local man. But late in the week, State Police left the Cape to interview Porter and a man who had been living with her in a Quincy apartment building, the Ritz Manor.
Last year, Porter testified before a grand jury that she had met Greineder in 1998 while working for an escort service. The renowned allergist had wooed her in a hotel suite with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Worthington's father, Christopher Worthington, rented the apartment for Porter, said building manager Rocco Vasile. Police questioned Porter and the other occupant, known only as Ed, for five hours, Vasile said.
Shortly after Porter was approached by reporters on Thursday, Christopher Worthington drove to her apartment and picked her up, said a witness.
"From what I gathered from the State Police, they do not believe she is involved one iota," said Vasile. "They told me, `She is a good kid.' "
Yesterday morning, investigators returned to a Quincy Store 24 seeking a surveillance tape that might provide evidence in the case, said Nancy Perez, a Store 24 employee.
About a year ago, Christopher Worthington, an attorney, rented the apartment for about $500 a month, said Walter Perry, who was the Ritz Manor's building manager at the time.
Perry said Worthington, a white-haired man in his 60s, told him he had separated from his wife and was "looking for a place to live." The Ritz Manor has had a history of drug problems, and has been the site of several overdose deaths in recent years, Perry said.
But Worthington himself turned out to be an occasional visitor, and Porter was the one who stayed in the apartment. She was not employed and told Perry she had trouble breathing and that her back hurt, Perry said.
Vasile said Christopher Worthington told her the occupant of the apartment was his stepdaughter.
Several days after Christa Worthington's slaying, Porter came up the stairs crying, and asked Vasile if he had "made the connection" between her and the victim because she used the name Worthington.
"She was very distraught about the death. She came to me and said she didn't want to talk to nobody," Vasile said.
Several close friends of Christa Worthington said the victim had been distraught over her father's relationship with a much younger woman. According to Tim Arnold, a sometime boyfriend who lived with Worthington for several months last year, Worthington's father had been involved with the woman while her mother was dying of cancer. He told his daughter "he was in love," Arnold said.
Worthington was so concerned that she hired a private investigator to look into her father's relationship, he said.
"He was spending quite a bit each month" on the young woman, Arnold said. "Christa was worried he would start spending her inheritance."
A call to Christopher Worthington's law office in Dedham was not returned, and a man answering the telephone in his Weymouth home said he would not comment on any relationship with Beth Porter.
"You're going to have to find another source," the man said.
One relative, who grew up with Christopher Worthington and was close to his daughter, said Christa was concerned about her father's "inappropriate girlfriends." Christa's mother, Gloria Worthington, a landscape painter, died in 1999.
Christa "thought he was not being home enough, and was going off with some girlfriend," said the relative, Patricia Worthington Bartlett, 68, who lives in Georgia. "I didn't pay much attention. It's probably a natural daughter thing to do."
Christopher Worthington, a former assistant attorney general, now practices law with the Dedham firm of Parasco, Worthington and Chase. Many of his colleagues showed up on Saturday for a memorial service for his daughter, and said rumors of his relationship with a younger woman could not be true.
"None of this sounds like Chris," said David Hopwood, 56, who called him his mentor. "It doesn't sound like him at all."
Greineder, 60, had said he found his wife, Mabel, with her throat slashed after they separated during a walk near their home. Prosecutors said he killed her because she had discovered his extramarital sex life, including pornographic chat rooms and trysts with prostitutes. He was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without parole.