Hundreds of friends and family members gathered Saturday to remember the loving family man who possessed a quick but quiet wit and an insatiable love of gadgets.
Those who spoke of 52-year-old Peter Porco, who was found murdered in his 36 Brockley Drive home last Monday, can’t seem to make sense of the violent death of such a peaceful man.
Police have been tight-lipped about the details of the investigation into Peter Porco’s murder and the attack of his wife, 54-year-old Joan Porco, who remains in critical condition at an Albany hospital with facial and head injuries.
According to Bethlehem Police Chief Lou Corsi, Joan Porco was conscious when she was transported to the hospital, but he said Tuesday he didn’t know whether she was awake yet.
Early this week, police submitted more than 200 pieces of evidence to the State Police for examination, according to Corsi.
Police are not releasing any information about possible suspects.
There’s a lot of people we’re talking to, Corsi said. `The investigation is quite large.`
Peter Porco’s service was led by Joan Porco’s cousin, the Rev. David Noone at St. Francis de Sales Church, in Loudonville, where Peter Porco was a Eucharistic minister.
Peter Porco was called the `nicest person in the courthouse,` Appellate Court Justice Anthony V. Cardona, whom Peter clerked for, said.
`It’s so hard without him. It’s impossible to comprehend such a senseless brutality, destruction of human life,` said Cardona, who said he knew Peter Porco was listening. `I’m praying that God helps me with my anger.`
Peter Porco was a `model of thoughtfulness,` Noone said, who recalled a recent exchange between himself and the Porcos.
`Joanie Porco,` he said, granted him, without thinking twice, permission to borrow their family car to teach a new driver. The couple then invited the pair to dinner at their house.
Dinner was steak.
`How many people would loan you their car to teach someone to drive and then feed you steak?` Noone wondered.
Calling hours were at the church before the Mass Saturday morning, with the receiving line wrapping the front of the church, where family, including the Porco’s two sons, Christopher and Johnathan, stood. When the family went to sit down for the service, Chris, who had shared in a number of long embraces with friends and family, removed his glasses and wiped his right eye.
Early on in the investigation, the two sons were called by police `persons of interest` who they believed possessed relevant information. Chris Porco’s yellow Jeep Wrangler, registered to Peter Porco, was obtained by Bethlehem Police early last week.
`The jeep is still in our possession,` said Lt. Thomas Heffernan, Jr. Monday. `We’ve processed the vehicle.`
The forensic investigation at the home continued through the weekend.
`The investigation is still very active at this point,` Heffernan said.
The house experienced a string of burglaries in the past couple of years, all of which remain `open investigations,` Heffernan said.
Corsi wouldn’t elaborate on whether the police had determined whether anything was taken from the house this time or whether there was forced entry.
Heffernan said the New York State Police Forensics ID Unit is assisting the Bethlehem Police Department’s Forensics Unit. Officials at the University of Rochester, where Chris Porco is enrolled as a student, are also assisting.
Chris Porco’s family obtained a lawyer for him last Thursday. Terence L. Kindlon, citing EZ Pass records, Rochester witnesses, gasoline credit cards and e-mail records, said he knows at the end of the day, there will be no evidence implicating Chris in this crime.
`Chris felt no need to have a lawyer, he was fine on his own, he felt,` Kindlon said. `But his family, his aunts and uncles were concerned that the police were putting too much pressure on him. He’s in a terrible situation; his father’s dead, his mother’s in a surgical intensive care unit, and his family felt he needed some peace.`
Bethlehem Police have not confirmed that the weapon used was an ax or the time of death of Peter Porco.
`There’s a lot of information out there; some accurate, some not,` Heffernan said. `We’re very limited with the amount of information that can be released at this time.`
News media trucks had been camped out at the Bethlehem police station for much of the week, though their presence was diminished early this week. The news media also was present at Peter Porco’s funeral Saturday, though cameras were not allowed inside.
Noone asked for everyone to pray for Joan Porco, whose condition, he said, was much worse than reports had implied.
Cardona said it was nearly impossible to talk of Peter Porco without thinking of Joan Porco, or vice versa.
`Sweet, beautiful Joan who never hurt anybody,` said Cardona, described as Peter Porco’s `beloved P.J.,` with tears in his voice.
Cardona spoke of Peter Porco’s tendency to diet and to bring Cardona along for the diets, most of them unsuccessful. He talked of diet root beers and cottage cheese packages and fruit that often turned into an afternoon snack for Cardona after Peter Porco would go pick up a couple of sandwiches from Emma’s. Judge Joseph Cannizzaro, who Peter Porco worked for as a law guardian in the Third Department, representing children making their way through the Albany County Family Court, remembered Peter Porco’s love for all things gadget-like and a dieting with Jesus program he undertook.
`We laughed with him. Sometimes, we laughed at him,` Cardona said. `He helped so many people and all he wanted in turn was for good things to happen to people.`
Though Joan Porco couldn’t attend Peter Porco’s funeral, her love for Peter Porco made its presence known through a reading of something she wrote as an example for a task she assigned her students.
Joan Porco assigned students in her class in the Schalmont School District to write about their best friends. Leading by example, she wrote about Peter Porco, her best friend and husband and how they met, at college the first day she arrived on campus and asked him where the library was.
Chris Porco was listed to give a memorial reflection of his father, but did not speak. Kindlon, who advised Chris not to participate in any further police interviews, said Chris Porco didn’t speak at the funeral because of his sadness.
`Chris was too emotional, too devastated,` Kindlon said. `The second he would’ve opened his mouth to speak, there would’ve been tears.`
`This is a standard-issue Delmar young person,` Kindlon said of Chris Porco. `Everyone thinks very highly of him. You spend three minutes talking to him, and you realize, ‘oh, OK, I know him.’`
By Thursday, Supervisor Theresa Egan said calls from concerned citizens had dwindled.
`People understand this is a crime investigation and that the police don’t want to jeopardize any evidence. Every resource available needs to be checked, every angle, every lead, evidence needs to be checked and rechecked. We may not hear of an arrest for two weeks,` Egan, who attended Peter Porco’s funeral, said.
Heffernan said a neighborhood canvas had been conducted, including interviews with neighbors.
`Obviously, if anyone thinks they saw or heard something relevant, we encourage them to call the police,` Heffernan said.
Daily briefings among police officers and district attorney representatives continue, Heffernan said.
A private service will be held so that Joan Porco may celebrate her husband’s life when her recovery is complete.