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Court Clerk’s Body Found Next to Battered Wife Spurs Investigation Into Son’s Dark Past

Court Clerk’s Body Found Next to Battered Wife Spurs Investigation Into Son’s Dark Past

It was a cold November night in 2004 when police responded to a disturbance at a suburban home in Delmar, New York. They came inside to find 52-year-old Appellate Division court clerk, Peter Porco, in a pile of his own blood, dead from massive head injuries.

Peter’s wife, speech pathologist Joan Porco, was lying next to their blood-drenched bed with similar head trauma. Her face was completely disfigured, one eye was destroyed, and her skull was caved in, but she was alive.


CBS News – 48 hours

Inside the couple’s bedroom, a bloodied ax sat upon the floor. There were no fingerprints on the weapon and no one was in the home when they arrived. Someone had killed Peter Porco and had very nearly killed his wife, now it was up to the officers to find out who. First, though, they needed to get Joan to a hospital.


CBS News – 48 hours

Christopher Bowdish was a Bethlehem Police detective on the scene. As paramedics carefully lifted Joan Porco onto a gurney, Bowdish took a moment to try and ask her if she could tell him anything about her attacker. He asked if the attacker was someone she knew, a family member, and she used her head to nod, “yes.”

Weak Nods

CBS News – 48 hours

Bowdish, knowing the family history, pressed on. He asked if it had been her older son, Jonathan, but she shook her head. When he asked about her younger son, Christopher, she nodded her head up and down. It made the most sense, Jonathan Porco was a Naval officer stationed in South Carolina at the time. Christopher was closer.

Learned of The Attack

Christopher Porco was still about 230 miles away from the Porco household on the day of the murder, of course. He was studying at the University of Rochester at the time and apparently only learned of the attack when a reporter approached him on campus the next day. He immediately made his way home to Delmar.


CBS News – 48 hours

Joan Porco slipped into a coma soon after her admission, but her wordless affirmations to Detective Bowdish were more than enough for the Bethlehem Police to put the majority of their focus on Christopher Porco. At first glance, it seemed like a rather narrow investigative avenue to follow, but the police did have their reasons. Even beyond Joan’s admission.

Grand Jury


In late November of that year, the Albany County District Attorney convened a grand jury in order to hear testimony firmly implicating Christopher in his father’s murder. Many people testified, including Christopher’s college friends, a campus safety officer, and even his old girlfriend. The indictment was handed down and then something miraculous happened.

Dying Declaration


Joan Porco’s alleged identification of her son as the murderer was a compelling fact for the would-be prosecutors to lean on. More of a dying declaration, one must not forget that Joan was severely injured and her brain was wounded. Perhaps she had not known what they were asking her. She probably didn’t even know where she was or what had happened.


Courtesy Photo / Times Union

Eventually, Joan Porco emerged from a medically induced coma to find that not only was her husband dead and her face serious disfigured, but the authorities were also trying to pin it all on her baby boy. She maintained that Christopher had nothing to do with her husband’s murder and insisted she hadn’t identified her son as the attacker.

Leave Chris Alone

She began to recover and nine months after hearing about Christopher’s trial, she wrote a plaintive letter to the Albany Times. “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 Issues

Unfortunately for Christopher, the impassioned pleas of a traumatized mother counted little when comparing them to the sordid complications of his life up to that point. There had been known tensions between the Porcos and their son, specifically when it came to money. He owed money on his new Jeep Wrangler and on his tuition and a year before the murder, had even been forced to withdraw because of poor grades.

Fall Tuition

He readmitted the following year, taking out an additional loan of $31,000 to pay his Fall 2004 tuition. His father was the cosignatory on the loan, he just didn’t know it. In fact, Christopher was using the $31,000 to repay his loans from the year before. In time, even his prodigious perfidy was discovered.


Courtesy Photo / Times Union

Two weeks before Peter was murdered, he confronted Christopher about the whole ordeal via email. “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.”

Reaching Out

CBS News – 48 hours

Before he could contact Citibank, Peter Porco was notified that his son had also used a newly-obtained line of credit from Citibank to finance the Jeep Wrangler. Peter reached out to his son again but he wasn’t taking any of his parents phone calls and he hadn’t for weeks. With that in mind, Peter tried another email.


“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,” Porco wrote. “That applies to the Citibank college loan if you attempt to reactivate it or use my credit to obtain any other loan. We may be disappointed with you, but your mother and I still love you and care about your future.” But was this threat enough to push Christopher that far over the edge?

Lies, Lies, Lies

Christopher’s spot was eventually blown when he went on a trip to England in March of 2004. His parents had seen his interim grade report and learned that he was on thin ice with the school. He, of course, denied what the college was saying and chalked it up to a registrar issue. He then earned readmission the next year by forging a transcript.

Driving Off

CBS News – 48 hours

There was also some suspicious evidence that Christopher may have actually made the 230 mile trip back home on the night of the murder. A New York State Thruway toll collector just outside Rochester recalled seeing a yellow Wrangler with large tires passing rather quickly through the toll plaza around 2 a.m.

Time Frame

The time frame was correct. There was every possibility that Christopher Porco could have driven down to his family’s hometown and then driven back in one night. It would have been one heck of a journey, but based on everything the police now knew or suspected of the young man, it would be one he’d surely be angry enough to make.

History of Offense

Then there’s the fact that Christopher had a long history of anti-social, some might say sociopathic, behavior. This included burglary and fraud, both of which were crimes committed against his own family. Christopher stole laptops, Dell and Macintosh computers, and sold them all on eBay under his brother’s name; then just didn’t ship them after customers had paid.

No Conscience

Bethlehem Police / Times Union

One of the most telling portions of this case involves Christopher’s personality. Investigators believed that he might be not just sociopathic but psychopathic as well. He had a knack for pathological lying and egomania. He also showed a distinct lack of conscience. Even his father’s clerk agreed that every encounter she’d had with Christopher led her to believe he was a sociopath.


CBS News – 48 hours

Because the case saw such a large amount of publicity, several Albany-area psychologists and mental health professors weighed in on Christopher’s alleged behavior. All of them agree that this behavior was indeed consistent with that of a sociopath, specifically when it came to his constant lying.

No Physical Evidence

CBS News – 48 hours

Despite all this evidence proving that Christopher Porco was a bad person, there didn’t happen to be a shred of physical evidence proving he was any kind of murderer. No fingerprints, shoeprints, or any other such indicators were present at the scene. So how would they prove he was there?

Overlooked Possibilities

There was also the fact that the police had overlooked other possibilities in Peter Porco’s death. There was some speculation by Christopher’s defense attorneys that the killing was some sort of retaliation against Peter’s uncle Frank Porco, who was once a captain in New York City’s Bonanno crime family.


Courtesy Photo / Times Union

Frank Porco used to work with the New York City Fire Department before he’d turned to crime. Eventually, he had been found guilty of extortion and loansharking and eventually served two years in prison because of it. During the trial, Frank’s name was incorrectly brought up in association with a murder. This obfuscation did nothing to help Christopher, however.


NYS Department Of Corrections And Community Supervision

It all amounted to very little in the end. After a few hours of jury deliberations, Christopher Porco was found guilty on all counts: one count of second-degree murder and one of attempted murder. He was sentenced to 50 years to life for each count. He won’t be eligible for parole until December 2052.

Court Clerk’s Body Found Next to Battered Wife Spurs Investigation Into Son’s Dark Past is an article from: LifeDaily

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