Could their own son really be responsible?

Chris Porco's parents

Peter and Joan Porco. (Photo: PA Photos)

It was a house that Detective Chris Bowdish of Bethlehem New York Police Department had been to before. Two years earlier, in November 2002, he’d been called to Brockley Drive by Joan and Peter Porco. They’d been broken into, had two laptops stolen.

Now though, on 15 November 2004, Joan and Peter had been found seemingly murdered. There was blood everywhere. Peter’s hacked and mangled body lay across the landing. Joan’s across the blood-soaked bed. And the axe that had been used to kill them had been tossed onto the floor. But this felt nothing like a robbery.

Pictures from the scene being displayed in court. (Photo: PA Photos)

Gruesome pictures from the scene being displayed in court. (Photo: PA Photos)

The alarm had been tampered with, phone lines cut, the spare key Joan kept in the porch used to open the front door and nothing had been stolen. An inside job?

And then, as paramedics swarmed the bodies, an amazing discovery. Joan was alive! Her skull had been axed open, her jaw broken and she was missing teeth and an eye.

The detective knelt by her side and asked Joan if her son, Jonathan, 23, had done it. She shook her head. Then he asked if her younger son, Chris, 21, had done it. She nodded. As Joan was whisked to hospital, detectives worked hard to piece it together…

Joan and Peter’s other son, Peter, was out of the frame. He was nearly 1,000km away at a Naval base. Chris was 200km miles away too. A student at the University of Rochester.

After surgery, Joan said she had no recollection of who attacked her. Denied ever having incriminated her youngest son.

Chris claimed he’d spent the evening snoozing in front of the telly. But Chris’s housemates said Chris hadn’t been with them. He could have made the drive in a night. And there had been several sightings of a distinctive, yellow Jeep just like Chris’s at tollbooths along the way.

But was there another solution? Could it have been Peter Porco’s mobster cousin? Frankie ‘The Fireman’ Porco was serving time for conspiracy to murder. Was the axe a warning? The tool of a fireman?

Police kept coming back to Chris. Turned out he’d told everyone at university that his gran was a rich landowner. He’d splashed out on the latest gadgets and cars, trendy clothes and a social life. But he couldn’t afford it.

Desperate to keep up the facade he’d actually stolen the laptops back in 2002 and sold them on eBay. Then there was the loan. Peter had leant Chris $2,000 to buy books. But Chris used his dad’s details to take out a bigger loan for $31,000 and bought the Jeep in his dad’s name too.

Joan supporting her son Chris Porco in court

Joan supporting her son in court. (Photo: PA Photos)

In November 2005, Chris Porco was arrested. During his trial his mum took to the stand in his defence.

But would the jury agree?

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. The verdict
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