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James Allen KINNEY






Alias: Jerome Romano Porrovecchio
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Mutilation - Vietnam War veteran with a history of mental illness
Number of victims: 3 +
Date of murders: 1997 - 1998
Date of arrest: 2001
Date of birth: September 11, 1949
Victims profile: Young women
Method of murder: Beating to death
Location: Washington/Michigan/Iowa/Virginia, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prion without parole in Washington on January 2002

James Allen Kinney

Keri Lynn Sherlock, 20, of Braintree Mass., was eager to see the world. She was always friendly and trusting of people. Those qualities concern her mother as Sherlock boarded a bus to travel across the country to Bellingham. She let her daughter go, but made Sherlock promise to call every day. Regrettably, her mother would later learn the validity of her concerns as Sherlock became the latest victim of another Bellingham killer.

Sherlock came to Bellingham in 1998 to visit her uncle, to look at Western as a potential school and to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. As a lover of the outdoors, she went for a hike in the area on Oct 3. This was the last time her uncle, and everyone else, would see her alive. Her body was later found about an hour outside of Bellingham on the Mount Baker Highway. She was raped and beaten to death.

A backpack found near her body led police to James Allen Kinney, a Bellingham resident and Vietnam War veteran with a history of mental illness. A warrant was released for his arrest, but Kinney already fled the area. Kinney also had warrants in Michigan and Ohio for murdering two other women.

Kinney managed to avoid capture for three years. It wasn''t until a tip was called into "America''s Most Wanted" from a viewer in North Carolina who recognized Kinney, that he was arrested and admitted to Sherlock''s murder. Kinney was sentenced to life in jail without parole. He is serving his sentence at the Washington State Penitentiary.


Two Faces of a Killer: Kinney Details Life

By Mia Taylor - The Patriot Ledger

January 16, 2002

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – He shifts seamlessly between personas with the slightest change in the direction of a conversation.

There’s the James Allen Kinney who stares down through dust-covered eyeglasses at his lap, rubbing his knees nervously and speaking in almost childlike tones about bad memories and painful moments.

And then there’s the James Allen Kinney who looks right at you, with a smirk, talking proudly about the clever tactics he used to stay one step ahead of the law for more than two years, the Kinney filled with bravado, willing to take risks even as his mug shot appeared on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

“I walked into a police station in Pennsylvania, to get directions to Allentown, and the officer said, You look familiar,’” Kinney boasts. “I said I’m just your average Joe,’ and walked back out.”

On Monday, in a courtroom in the northwest corner of Washington state, the 52-year-old drifter was sent to prison for life for the rape and murder of Braintree resident Keri Sherlock in 1998. She was 20.

Kinney picked up Sherlock while she was hitchhiking near Bellingham. A nature lover who enjoyed travel, Sherlock was in Washington fulfilling her dream of seeing the Pacific Ocean.

Monday’s sentencing closed a case that devastated a Braintree family and inspired a nationwide manhunt.

A tip generated by the television show “America’s Most Wanted” ultimately led to Kinney’s capture.

Kinney spoke with reporters for an hour Monday in an 11-by-15-foot holding cell while awaiting transfer to a state prison. Wearing white rubber sandals and yellow prison fatigues, he sat unshackled in the small room with cinder block walls and a gray concrete floor.

The conversation wandered, disjointedly, through childhood, traveling across the country, and what he called the two James Allen Kinneys: “The monster who killed Keri Sherlock” and the “civic-minded” citizen.

Kinney’s lawyer said Kinney’s account of his life and actions are not entirely true, but investigators working on the case were able to verify parts of it.

He was born Earle Norman Suskey in Tulsa, Okla. on Sept. 5, 1949, the second child of a troubled marriage.

His father was an alcoholic who physically abused Kinney and would abandon the family for days, weeks or months at a time, according to court records.

By the time he was 2, alcohol, infidelity and violence had taken such a toll on his parents that Kinney and his brother were put up for adoption, becoming wards of the state.

A young couple, Margaret and Clifford Kinney, took in the two children, initially on a foster-care basis, and adopted them after just a few months.

The family moved to Lansing, Mich., so the boys could grow up on a farm. The Kinneys joined the local Methodist church, where the family attended weekly Sunday services. They lived a modest life, spending much of their time on the farm or fishing.

“I had my own cows,” Kinney says with a sudden, surprising laugh and lingering smile. “I got up at 4 a.m. to feed the cows and got an animal husbandry badge, along with a Future Farmers of America badge.”

Clifford Kinney worked a lot and his wife ran a strict home in his absence. Her approach to child raising was detailed in dozens of interviews in the court file, among them conversations with Kinney’s brother Robert, Michigan neighbors and his Boy Scout troop leader.

There were no hugs or physical affection. But there was a great deal of yelling and punishment in the home. Court records show that Kinney was horse-whipped, leaving scars on his right cheek.

When he talks about the bad times, Kinney seems to recede into a shell, looking at his lap or staring with vacant eyes.

“It was fun there for awhile,” he says. “But then it wasn’t fun anymore. It started getting bad for us.” Eventually, Kinney joined the Army and went to Vietnam.

Clifford Kinney began to notice signs of “mental problems” when Kinney returned from the service in the early 1970s.

Kinney has been in hospitals for extended psychiatric treatment at least 26 times since 1980. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with bipolar disorder.

Kinney’s public defender, John Komorowski, said his client is now taking several mood-stabilizing medications, including lithium.

As Kinney talked, Komorowski leaned against a nearby wall. Often, Kinney appeared overwhelmed or confused, turning to look at Komorowski for assistance. He frequently expressed feeling “jittery,” and again looked to his lawyer for help.

But Kinney also revealed details of a thought process sharp enough to figure out how to avoid capture after Sherlock’s murder.

He went to a library and checked out a book detailing how the FBI tracks suspects. Then, Kinney said, he used what he learned reading the book to stay out of jail. He also watched television broadcasts about the case.

“I let John Walsh pave the way,” he says, of the “America’s Most Wanted” host. “Wherever they were looking, I wasn’t there.”

Kinney said he spent time in California, Vermont and even Massachusetts. He claimed to have thought about turning himself in, not to police, but to Sherlock’s family.

“I went up to Massachusetts looking for her parents, but couldn’t find her house,” Kinney said, explaining he looked in phone books but didn’t know what town the Sherlocks lived in.

When reporters appeared incredulous about the claim, he added, “If you were her mother and this guy comes in and says, I’m here to turn myself in,’ you might have been frightened, but you might have felt like, My prayers are answered.’”

Komorowski, who had investigators independently verify the facts of Kinney’s life, doubts some of the things Kinney said during the interview. He said Kinney lied about being the leader of a Boy Scout troop.

Did he get a book about the FBI? Maybe, Komorowski said.

He was probably not in all the places he claimed to have visited, Komorowski said.

The lawyer stressed that Kinney’s mental illness is no excuse for murder. He said Kinney deserves to die in prison.

But his client does not deserve all the blame.

“Society fails the mentally ill,” he said. “If he had been on the proper medication, I don’t think this would ever have happened.”

As for whether the apologies he has offered time and again for his violent actions are sincere, only Kinney himself knows.

He insists they are.

“I can’t undo what I’ve done. I’ve had rages for years and years,” Kinney said as the interview concluded. “I’m asking Keri to forgive me for what I did to her. If I have to die the same way she did, so be it.”


James Allen Kinney

October 26, 2000

Police in Delray Beach, Florida, are searching for suspected serial killer James Allen Kinney who is believed to have been living in Delray Beach since May. 

Kinney, 51, is suspect killer women in Washington, Michigan e Iowa. "He lives somewhere between Boynton Beach and north Broward county," said Detective Robert Stevens at a news conference.

The Vietnam veteran has stayed at Veteran's Administration Hospitals and homeless shelters throughout the U.S., and most recently he befriended an elderly Delray man confined to a wheelchair, who he met at a local VA hospital. Investigators said he typically hangs out at American Legion halls or Veterans of Foreign Wars halls.

"We've exhausted all leads and haven't been able to identify where he is," Stevens said. "He hasn't been seen (by police) in two years. The trail is cold, but hopefully this will generate leads."

Two years ago, Washington police said Kinney was responsible for the disappearance and murder of 20-year-old Keri Lynn Sherlock. Her body was found on a dirt road in the woods and was identified through dental records. A 1997 murder of a Grand Rapids, Michigan, woman and a 1998 murder of a Des Moines, Iowa, woman also point to Kinney, police said. All three victims were young, white women.

The suspect has previously worked in South Florida on temporary day labor jobs, Stevens said. In April, Kinney was spotted at the Philadelphia International Airport after he was profiled on the TV show "America's Most Wanted."

The suspect, who uses the alias Jerome Romano Porrovecchio, is known to be friendly and a pathological liar. He befriends elderly people and becomes their caretakers to make money. He has also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, a result of his service in Vietnam. "If you have a suspect involved in three murders and hasn't been charged with one, obviously it's important ... so we can bring him to justice and he doesn't do it again," Stevens said. The Whatcom County Sheriff's Office in Washington is offering $10,000 for information that leads to Kinney's arrest.


James Allen Kinney

January 21, 1999

Investigators in Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Idaho and Oregon all say they have unsolved homicides of young women occuring when fugitive killer James Allen Kinney was living in their areas. Kinney, 50, first came to the attention of police in Washington following the 1998 murder of Keri Lynne Sherlock, a 20-year-old Braintree, Massachussetts, woman who was visiting relatives in Bellingham. 

Now, the authorities of Michigan are investigating a possible connection among Kinney and the murder without resolving of 22-year-old Billie Jo Watson, happened in 1997.

Sherlock was raped and her body mutilated in what authorities called a ritualistic sexual manner. Detectives in Whatcom County found papers in a vehicle abandoned near Sherlock's body that belonged to Kinney and listed the Grand Rapids address where he had lived for nearly two years.

Billie Jo Watson was last seen alive in Grand Rapids the night of Nov. 30, 1997. Four days later, when her body was found, Kinney left Grand Rapids, buying a one-way bus ticket for Iowa, leaving behind a business he had started with another man and all his personal belongings.

The allegations against Kinney were broadcast nationally in December on "America's Most Wanted," including investigators' suspicions that he might be linked to killings across the country. A Vietnam veteran, Kinney has been travelling across the country since the 1980s, checking in and out of veteran's facilities and living off his disability checks.


James Allen Kinney

May 25, 1999

Still at large, James Allen Kinney has become the focus of a nationwide manhunt for the suspected Grand Rapids serial killer. He is wanted for the slaying and rape of a 20-year-old woman in Washington. He also is a suspect in the 1997 slaying in Grand Rapids of 22-year-old Billie Jo Watson, and is wanted for questioning on several other killings.

Kinney, then 50, had been a resident of the Creston Heights area until shortly after Watson's death. A Vietnam veteran, Kinney is believed to have traveled the country since the 1980s, checking in and out of veteran's facilities. He came to Grand Rapids in 1996, checking into the veteran's clinic at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, 3000 Monroe Ave. NE, according to police. He remains on the FBI's fugitive task force wanted list. Investigators also have said Kinney's victims suffered mutilation of a ritualistic sexual nature.



FBI Crime Alert

James Allen Kinney

James Allen Kinney has scars on his right hand, his left calf and his right calf. In the past, he has worked as a cook, a commercial fisherman, a truck driver, a hospital worker, and a landscaper. Kinney is a transient who has stayed at Veteran's hospitals and homeless shelters all over the country. He has been diagnosed as being bipolar and as having post traumatic stress disorder. He is also known to be very friendly and is allegedly a pathological liar.

James Allen Kinney is wanted for his alleged participation in the brutal murder of Keri Lynne Sherlock in Richmond, Virginia. On October 2, 1998, Sherlock, a twenty-year-old woman who had recently moved to the area from Massachusetts, left her residence and told her family she was going hiking in a local park. By late in the afternoon of October 3, 1998, Sherlock had not returned home and was reported to be missing by her family. On October 4, 1998, Sherlock's body was found in Maymont Park.

James Allen Kinney and Keri Sherlock were seen together in numerous places during this time period, including at a bank and a local sports bar. On October 8, 1998, a warrant was issued in Richmond County Superior Court in the state of Virginia, charging Kinney with Aggravated Homicide. On November 18, 1998, an Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution warrant was issued in the Eastern District of Virginia.



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