Read Cobra Killer Online

Authors: Peter A. Conway,Andrew E. Stoner

Cobra Killer

Table of Contents

Copyright © 2012 by Andrew E. Stoner and Peter A. Conway

Magnus Books

Cathedral Station

PO Box 1849

New York, NY 10025

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Library of Congress Cataloging-In-Publication Data available.

First Magnus Edition 2012

Edited by: Don Weise

Cover by: Linda Kosarin

ISBN-13: 978-1-936833-01-6

www.magnusbooks.com

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CHAPTER 1
 

A Murder on Midland Drive

 

“At first glance, this may look like just a lurid saga on the margins of a far-flung subculture. But the tabloid headline of the tale may conceal a larger truth…a reality where the participants hoped to realize their most outrageous sexual fantasies, where screen names and avatars enable endless reconstruction of selves: a fluid, identity-less existence that many millions of people have chosen as their primary model for seeking sex and love.”

—Michael Joseph Gross,
Out
magazine, October 2007

 

During the third week of January 2007, Bryan Kocis boarded an airplane in San Diego for a long flight back home to Pennsylvania. He was filled with excitement and hope. It was a trip he had taken many times before over the last several years as his home-based gay pornography business began to grow. He’d found financial success in producing gay porn in the most unlikely of all places—tiny Dallas Township, Pennsylvania—and his company soon rivaled anything being produced in the porn capital of the world: the San Fernando Valley of California.

He carried with him on this return flight to Pennsylvania a signed copy of a legal settlement that he thought ended an issue that had nagged him for more than a year. He thought he was nearing the end of a protracted and bitter fight that had brought him scorn and to the brink of arrest on federal child endangerment laws.

The settlement settled a lot. But it ended nothing.

Five days later, Kocis, forty-four, was dead, his head nearly severed from his body, his body curled into a fetal position and pierced with twenty-eight separate knife wounds to the abdomen and chest. His body was charred with second and third degree burns that would render him unrecognizable. Police retrieved dental records to identify him. His life had ended on the leather sofa in his living room as his home was reduced to a smoking hull of burned up dreams.

Bryan Kocis was dead and the hunt for what had brought such unparalleled violence to Dallas Township, Pennsylvania was just beginning. The violence that took Kocis’ life would send shockwaves across the community and across the country. His murder would reveal more about Kocis than most people ever knew and even more about an unexpected enterprise operating from a base in placid, conservative northeast Pennsylvania.

As details emerged, first neighbors, then the community and everyone would know that Bryan Kocis had built a successful gay pornography business from his modest home—an undertaking that may have contributed to his death. His secrets would unfurl for all to see, revealing the sometimes complicated life Kocis had led, and the hastily planned and executed conspiracy that cost him his life.

The long road to justice begins

There was never any question the investigation into the murder of Bryan Kocis would be a joint effort. Dozens of officers from local, state, and federal agencies would be involved, led by the Pennsylvania State Police Major Case Investigations.

“Right from the outset we worked with the police and this investigation rested with the state police, as it should have,” assistant district attorney Michael Melnick said.
(1)

Pennsylvania State Trooper Michael Boone, a fifteen-year veteran, was one of the first to arrive at the murder scene, a simple one-and-a-half story home at 60 Midland Drive at about 9:45 P.M. on Wednesday, January 24, 2007. Snow flurries had begun to fall. His job: process any evidence that could be collected from the scene.

Boone, a member of the state police’s Forensic Services Unit, took measurements, made diagrams, and captured the scene in photographs and on videotape. His first photographs included exterior views that showed intense burning to the front porch and entry to the home, burning so intense the ceiling and roof of the small porch began to collapse before firefighters could extinguish the flames. Outside, two small snow shovels were leaned against Kocis’ BMW parked next to the house. The intense fire had damaged the car, even melting headlamp casings. On the porch itself, a charred wooden bench and the remnants of what appeared to be a melted plastic one-gallon gas tank.
(2)
The front door was burned and charred; the exterior “storm door” melted in place. Neither of the doors showed signs of forced entry. Inside the blackened living room, a portion of the ceiling had collapsed and heavy melting damage had occurred to a giant big-screen TV and entertainment center Kocis had just purchased a few weeks prior as a Christmas present to himself. The room’s picture window was blown out, the metal bar separating the panes dumped onto the sofa below. It was just part of the fire debris that fell upon the sofa, and Kocis’ lifeless body, as the fire raged.

“(Kocis is) still lying on the couch,” Boone said in describing the scene. “He’s found lying on his back. This debris would have come down on top of him.”
(3)
Boone’s photographs showed that most of the sofa’s cushion and stuffing had burned away, the frame being all that remained of the couch. “Mr. Kocis’ body (was) lying here,” he reported.
(4)

Close-up photos of Kocis’ body showed his severely slashed throat, his skull almost severed from his body, as well as knife wounds to his left chest and abdomen. After Deputy Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman removed the body, a large pool of blood and other biological fluids remained.
(5)

As snow showers continued until after 1 A.M. and a slight accumulation began to show, investigators decided to place plastic tarps over exposed areas of the house to preserve all the evidence they could. One long, cold night of investigating was coming to a close, but days of hard work in the Pennsylvania winter lie ahead.

Assistant DA Michael Melnick got his first look at the scene in the morning light of Thursday, January 25. “It was bitterly cold that day,” Melnick said, recalling that as he stepped under a yellow police line tape surrounding the Kocis home, he was greeted with a stern “welcome” from State Police Detective Steve Polishan, who didn’t know Melnick from Adam.

Melnick recalled Polishan telling him, “Very nice to meet you. We’ll meet you back at the Dallas Township Police Department.” Melnick took the hint to back off and waited to meet the detectives later in the tiny squad room of the Dallas Township Police Department, just a mile east of the murder scene.
(6)

It would be two more days before investigators from the District Attorney’s office were allowed in the scene. State fire marshal and homicide investigators spent those two days painstakingly combing the burned rubble of the Kocis home, some detectives down on their hands and knees sifting for clues.

Among the pieces of evidence collected by Trooper Boone was “a small little razor blade knife” found underneath the burned love seat. Behind the front door, on a small half-circle table, police recovered Kocis’ untouched wallet, a money clip with $60 cash in it, sunglasses, a pocket knife, and keys to his prized BMW. Police also found loaded handguns stashed throughout drawers in cabinets and end tables in the home. Kocis’ family members would later recover $1,800 in cash left in a kitchen drawer. In the kitchen sink, two long-stem wine glasses and a broken wine bottle (damaged in the fire) and cocktail shaker were found.

Investigators did not find any fingerprints on any of the items collected. It was no surprise. “Heat is very bad for a latent print,” Boone said. “The latent print is going to be as a result of secretions from the body and the pores of the fingertips.” Boone said the heat destroyed any remaining sweat or oil needed to leave a print from anyone who was in the room before the fire was set. “Especially excessive heat is going to dissipate that away to the point where it’s either going to be obliterated or just destroyed totally.”
(7)

Further, collection of trace DNA evidence from any body fluids was impossible. As Melnick said, “The place was just incinerated where the victim was.”
(8)

The state fire marshal for this portion of Pennsylvania, State Police Trooper Ronald Jarocha, offered the official ruling: the cause of the fire was arson. Jarocha determined that the front door of the home had been left open, providing oxygen to a small fire started behind a love seat adjacent to the sofa on which the victim was found deceased.
(9)

Jarocha said in all likelihood an open flame was used to ignite combustible materials stuffed behind the love seat and that a burn pattern on the floor was created, along with heavy charring on the back of the love seat. Jarocha concluded that if the fire started elsewhere in the room, the area behind the love seat normally would have been a protected area from flames.
(10)

Among the combustibles found piled and burned in the room were a small throw pillow with tassels, paper and cardboard products. “There was nothing there to accidentally cause this fire,” Jarocha said.
(11)

Trooper Jarocha noted one other odd finding: smoke detectors had been removed from their mountings throughout the house and placed on the dining room table. The batteries, however, had not been removed, so they sounded as normal when smoke and fire began filling the home.

Jarocha and Boone supervised the painstaking effort to comb the house for evidence. Burned debris and ashes were carefully shoveled away from the living room and searched for any possible clues.

Kocis’ friend Robert Wagner came back to Dallas Township from New York City at the request of investigators, and Polishan led him in a walk-through of what was left of Kocis’ home. Wagner’s purpose was to help investigators locate and verify what items were normally present in the home and were now missing, Polishan said. Wagner, as it turned out, was the last known person to go inside Kocis’ home, having spent the weekend before as Kocis’ house guest.

Polishan said Wagner verified that Kocis used his dining room table as a desk. The dining room, adjacent to the living room, was less damaged by the fire, allowing some computer screens, a scanner, and a keyboard to remain intact. The hard-drive towers were missing, pulled violently from the connecting wires left behind.
(12)

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