Porter charged with murdering girlfriend

Thursday,

An Arkansas man made his first court appearance in connection with the murder of his girlfriend and bail was set at $1 million, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday.

Joseph Porter, 25, was charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Cristina Prodan.

According to the criminal complaint, police were sent to Prodan’s Edina apartment on a welfare check on Jan. 5. They knew that Prodan had met Porter online and that he had moved here from Arkansas and began living with her around October. In December, Porter was convicted of violating a domestic abuse no-contact order sought by Prodan.

Prodan’s mother, who said she had not heard from her daughter for some time, let the officers into Prodan’s apartment Jan.5. The apartment was disheveled but neither Prodan nor Porter were there, according to the complaint.

Police learned that Porter owned a 1995 Honda Accord, which had been stopped on the evening of Jan. 4 in Green County, Missouri because the car’s registration was expired. Porter was alone in the car and the trooper noted there were large suitcases in the back seat and a brand new pick axe and shovel. Porter said he was “moving back to Arkansas from Minnesota” and “needed the tools for his job,” the complaint states.

On Jan. 9, officers were alerted to Prodan’s cell phone pinging in the area of Cabot, Arkansas. They learned it was pawned at a nearby Walmart. Video surveillance of the transaction was obtained and officers saw Porter with a man, identified as Porter’s estranged husband. Porter was later arrested at his husband’s house and he appeared to have burns on his face, hands and body, according to the complaint.

Officers subsequently learned that on the evening of Jan. 6, the New Orleans’ Fire Department had responded to a fire in a shipping container in a junk yard. After extinguishing it, fire fighters located a badly burned body within the container. An autopsy determined it was Prodan. Porter’s Honda was located a short distance from where her body was recovered, the complaint states.

Officers questioned Porter, who said that on Jan. 4, he was at Prodan’s apartment and they argued. He said he punched her several times and put her in a choke hold until she passed out.  When he realized she had died, he put Prodan’s body inside a large suitcase and started driving, eventually arriving at the junkyard in New Orleans with the intention of burying her, according to the complaint.

Porter decided instead to burn her body and placed it in a shipping container, piled old tires on top and used several gallons of gasoline to ignite the fire and that he was burned while doing this.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)