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Christopher S. PORCO





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 15, 2004
Date of birth: July 9, 1983
Victim profile: Peter Porco, 52 (his father)
Method of murder: Beating with a fireman's ax
Location: Albany, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 25 years to life on each count totaling a minimum of 50 years in prison on December 12, 2006
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interview sentence

Christopher Porco (born July 9, 1983) is a convicted murderer; he was convicted of killing his father and attempting to murder his mother.

He was tried in Goshen, Orange County, New York, on charges of second degree murder in the November 15, 2004 killing of his father, Peter Porco and second degree attempted murder in the severe wounding and disfigurement of his mother, Joan Porco in Delmar, New York.

The trial lasted 21 days and was one of the most highly-covered Capital Region news events in recent memory.

The trial was moved to Orange County after a New York State appeals court ruled that a change of venue was necessary to ensure Porco received a fair trial due to the intense media coverage in the Albany area.

Orange County criminal court justice Judge Jeffrey G. Berry, who presided over the trial, allowed still cameras (no sound or video) in the court during the proceedings, a rarity in New York State, which gives judges great discretion over the electronic recording of cases. The Judge did allow video taping of the summations of both defense and prosecution lawyers. The announcement of that verdict was also video taped.

The case against Porco received extensive coverage in local newspapers including the Times Union as well as in local television outlets. The case was also the subject of a one hour documentary on 48 Hours Mystery entitled "Memory of Murder," broadcast by CBS on November 4, 2006.

This attention may be due to the grisly nature of the murder as well as emails between Porco and his parents in the months leading up to the attack, which have been made public.

The emails detail tension caused by Porco's academic problems and careless spending. Perhaps most interesting to those following the case is the fact that a badly-scarred Joan Porco maintained her son's innocence throughout the trial, and accompanied him to many of his criminal proceedings.


On Monday November 15, 2004, a New York State courts officer was ordered to the home of Peter and Joan Porco. Peter, a State Appellate Division court clerk, had not reported to his Albany office for that morning. Upon entering the two-story home at 36 Brockley Drive in Delmar, the officer discovered Peter's lifeless, blood-soaked body near the front door.

An Albany County medical examiner would determine that Peter, 52, had sustained massive head injuries causing his death. Joan Porco was soon discovered by police officers. She was lying in the couple's blood-drenched bed and had suffered severe head and facial trauma. Joan would lose her left eye and a portion of her skull.

A fireman's ax belonging to the Porcos and used in the attack was found in the couple's bedroom.

As Joan was rushed to into emergency surgery, Bethlehem, New York Police quickly focused their investigation on the younger of the couple's two sons, Christopher, then a student at the University of Rochester, 230 miles westward. Less than two hours after authorities arrived at the scene of the attack, an all-points bulletin for Christopher was issued.

Christopher Porco was at the University of Rochester when his parents were discovered. He was accidentally notified of the attack by Simone Sebastian, a reporter at the Times Union who attempted to contact Porco's roommate with questions about the family.

That evening, Porco returned to Delmar and was questioned by Bethlehem Police detectives about the attack.

The prosecution's case

In the months following the attack Porco's attorney Terence Kindlon criticized investigators, saying they were focusing narrowly on Christopher Porco as a suspect. Shortly after the attack, Bethlehem Police detectives were dispatched to the university to inverview Porco's fraternity brothers and friends and to determine his whereabouts during the early morning hours of November 15.

In late November, 2004 outgoing Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne convened a grand jury to hear testimony implicating Christopher Porco in the murder. Some of those who were reported to have testified in the closed-session hearing included Porco's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers and friends from college, a University of Rochester campus safety officer, as well as a former girlfriend.

The Grand jury would field more testimony, and stretch months before finally handing up an indictment against Christopher in November 2005, one year after the attacks.


Christopher Bowdish, a Bethlehem Police detective, stated that as medical personnel attended to Joan Porco at her home, he took a moment to ask her if she could identify her attacker. Bowdish said that when he asked Joan if a family member had done it, Porco used her head to indicate "yes".

Bowdish has maintained that when he asked her if it had been her older son John, a Naval officer stationed elsewhere during the attack, she shook her head indicating it was not but nodded her head up and down indicating "yes" when he asked her if Christopher were responsible.

Joan Porco's alleged identification of her son Christopher may explain why Bethlehem Police pursued her son soon after the incident, rather than conducting a broader investigation of potential suspects.

The murder gained greater attention in the Capital District as Joan Porco, emerging from a medically-induced coma, maintained that Christopher had nothing to do with her husband's murder. During videotaped testimony submitted to the grand jury in December 2005 Joan testified about her family but did not identify her son as an attacker.

Nine months later, she wrote a letter for publication in the Times Union about Christopher: "I implore the Bethlehem police and the District Attorney's Office to leave my son alone, and to search for Peter's real killer or killers, so that he can rest in peace and my sons and I can live in safety,".

Financial problems

It was quickly revealed to the news media that there had been tension between Christopher Porco and his parents involving money prior to the attack. A series of emails disseminated through the press show the growing rift over loans that Christopher took out to pay for his tuition at the University of Rochester as well as to finance a new yellow Jeep Wrangler.

Following the Fall 2003 semester, University of Rochester officials forced Christopher Porco to withdraw from the school due to poor grades. When Porco was readmitted to the university the following year, he took out a loan for more than $30,000 to pay for his expenses, forging Peter's name as a cosignatory.

Unbeknownst to his parents, Christopher was attempting to pay for his Fall 2004 tuition with a portion of the $31,000 loan he had received. Earlier in the fall, he had told his parents he had been readmitted to the University of Rochester after the school determined a professor had misplaced his final exam from the previous fall semester. Peter and Joan Porco were under the impression that their son's tuition would be covered by the college.

Less than two weeks before his murder, Peter confronted his son about his dishonesty in an email and reprimanded him: "Did you forge my signature as a co-signer?...What the hell are you doing? You should have called me to discuss it...I'm calling Citibank this morning to find out what you have done and am going to tell them I'm not to be on it as a co-signer."

The following day, Peter Porco was notified that Christopher had also obtained a line of credit from Citibank to finance the Jeep Wrangler. His son had also used Peter's name as a cosignatory to secure the auto loan. Peter once again wrote to his son, who had not answered phone calls from him or Joan in weeks.

In an email, Peter warned Christopher that he would not tolerate any more dishonesty: "I want you to know that if you abuse my credit again, I will be forced to file forgery affidavits in order to disclaim liability and that applies to the Citibank college loan if you attempt to reactivate it or use my credit to obtain any other loan."

In the same email, Peter Porco welcomed his son to return to the family's Delmar home to resolve the matter, concluding his message by saying, "We may be disappointed with you, but your mother and I still love you and care about your future."

Christopher Porco's November 14-15, 2004 whereabouts

Christopher Porco told investigators that on the night of November 14, 2004, he retired to a dormitory lounge at the University of Rochester to sleep and awoke the following morning.

Bethlehem Police detectives and current Albany County District Attorney David Soares were steadfast that Porco instead drove more than three hours eastward to Albany in the early morning hours of November 15 to murder his parents.

Marshall Gokey, a neighbor at 53 Brockley Drive, told investigators shortly after the murder that on November 15 before 4 a.m., he spotted a yellow Jeep Wrangler in the Porco's driveway.

Investigators also contacted two New York State Thruway toll booth collectors who reported that they recalled seeing Wranglers matching the description passing through their station.

John Fallon, a toll collector at Exit 46 outside of Rochester, NY recounted seeing a yellow Wrangler with large tires at approximately 10:45 p.m. on November 14. Karen Russell, who collected tolls at Exit 24 in Albany told investigators that she spotted a yellow Wrangler shortly before 2 a.m. on November 15 because of its "excessive speed" upon approaching the toll plaza.

Four security cameras stationed at the University of Rochester recorded footage of a yellow Jeep Wrangler fitting the description of Porco's vehicle leaving the campus at 10:30 p.m. on November 14 and returning at 8:30 on November 15. Prosecutors maintain that the attack on Peter and Joan Porco occurred in the early morning hours.

Christopher Porco's character


Much attention has been focused on the personality of Christopher Porco. Police contended that he is a sociopath who lied to attain a car as well as tuition payments. Michelle McKay, a law clerk who worked with Peter Porco, said he had described his youngest son as a sociopath during a conversation with her.

Several Albany-area psychologists and mental health professors have stated for the Times Union that Porco's behavior was consistent with that of a sociopath. In particular, they focused on a consistent pattern of lying that Porco did to convince acquantances that he was from a wealthy and influential family.


During the course of their investigation, authorities determined that he had a history of anti-social behavior that included burglarizing his parents' Delmar home. In 2005, Bethlehem Police detectives travelled to San Diego, California to retrieve a laptop computer Christopher Porco had stolen from his parents on July 21, 2003 during a break-in that occurred while he was home from college.

Porco had sold the laptop on ebay. Eight months earlier on November 28, 2002, Police contend Christopher also staged a burglary at his parent's home in which he took a Macintosh laptop computer and a Dell laptop computer.

A camera reported missing from the burglary was recovered from the couple's front yard. One month before the attack, both Christopher and Johnathan Porco had their ebay accounts frozen because they shared the same Delmar address. Christopher had not sent several customers the items they had paid for from his account.

During their investigation it was revealed to prosecutors that Christopher posed as a Porco brother, sending emails to the jilted customers explaining that his brother had died and was unable to deliver on the items.

Forged transcript

While away on a trip to England in March 2004, Christopher received an email from Joan Porco's account admonishing him for failing classes at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY.

In the message, Joan and Peter complained to their son, "You just left and (we) can't believe (our) eyes as I look at your interim grade report. You know what they say, 'Three strikes and you're out.' Explain yourself." The email's subject header was entitled "Failing Grades-You did it again!"

Several days later, Christopher replied in a message to his father. Blaming the community college's office of registrar, he wrote, "[B]ut obviously they are incorrect... My lowest grade that I got on anything was a B on a physics test...Don't jump to conclusions, I'm fine." Porco earned readmission to the University of Rochester with a forged transcript from HVCC.

Judge Berry has refused to allow prosecutors to use the forged transcripts as evidence in their criminal case against Christopher Porco.

The defense's case

Defense attorney Terence Kindlon emphasized that the Bethlehem Police Department had no physical evidence linking Christopher Porco to the attack on his parents. No fingerprints were recovered from the fire ax found at the scene of the crime.

In statements to the press and criminal proceedings, Kindlon has suggested that the Bethlehem Police Department had made Christopher Porco's guilt a forgone conclusion. During his opening remarks to jurors on June 27, 2006 Kindlon described the Bethlehem Police as a department "that chases skateboarders away from the 7-11...This is not the FBI."

Kindlon's co-counsel and wife Laurie Shanks has also maintained that police overlooked the possibility that Peter Porco's death was the result of retaliation against his uncle Frank Porco, a captain in the Bonanno crime family in New York City. Frank Porco had served two years in prison for loansharking and extortion, although Shanks incorrectly told jurors that he had been indicted for his involvement in a murder.

Shanks noted that Frank Porco's nickname with the mob was "The Fireman" which could have had something to do with the type of murder weapon found, a fire ax. He had served in the New York City Fire Department.

Trial and conviction

On August 2, 2006, the prosecution completed its case against Porco, and the defense's case, which was much briefer, began.

In the morning of August 10, 2006, the jury began deliberations. By 5:00 EST, Christopher Porco was found guilty of second degree murder and attempted murder.

On December 12, 2006 Judge Jeffrey Berry sentenced Christopher to 25 years to life on each count totaling a minimum of 50 years in prison. Judge Berry was quoted as saying, "I fear very much what happened in the early morning hours of November 15 is something that could happen again."

Porco was initially sent to Downstate Correctional Facility. On January 23 he was moved to Clinton Correctional Facility in the Dannemora (village), New York to serve his prison term.



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