An Arkansas man has admitted choking his ex-girlfriend to death in her Edina home, then driving her body to New Orleans and burning it, authorities said in charges filed Tuesday.
Joseph S. Porter, 25, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with second-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 4 death of 27-year-old Cristina Prodan.
Porter, charged initially in federal court with kidnapping, remains held in federal custody in the Sherburne County jail and has a court appearance in Hennepin County scheduled for Thursday afternoon. On Tuesday, he made his first appearance in federal court in St. Paul on a substitute charge of interstate domestic violence.
The new charge in Hennepin County contains the same allegations as the federal case, but adds his confession and his numerous interactions with law enforcement as he drove south with Prodan’s body. His federal attorney could not be reached for comment.
According to the criminal complaint, Porter told a police officer that he argued with Prodan and punched her several times. He then placed her in a chokehold until she lost consciousness.
Believing she was dead, he put her body in a large suitcase and fled with it to New Orleans, the confession said. He said he had intended to bury the body, but instead, he piled tires on top it and used several gallons of gasoline to set a fire in a shipping container. The flames left Porter with burns on his face.
He was arrested by Arkansas State Police for car theft later that month at the Little Rock area home he shared with his husband. The husband told investigators that Porter had talked about killing Prodan. A search of the home and the stolen car revealed items belonging to her, including jewelry, clothing and a cellphone.
Authorities say Porter met Prodan on Facebook and had been living with her since last fall. Prodan’s mother, Livia, told Edina police that Porter raped her daughter, beat her service dog and killed a puppy in Arkansas, charging documents read.
Edina police answered 19 calls for service at Cristina Prodan’s home on Parklawn Avenue from Oct. 24 until early January, a period roughly spanning the time Porter lived with her. Arlie Kathryne, Porter’s mother, said Cristina Prodan suffered from epilepsy and that made her more vulnerable to his abuse.
On the day of Prodan’s death, her mother asked police to check on her welfare about 1:15 a.m., according to police records. Less than a half-hour before, a police officer had encountered Porter and Prodan in a car near the home, according to court records. Porter told the officer that Prodan refused to get out of the car. Prodan said she wanted to work things out with Porter, but she got out and walked toward her home, and Porter drove off.
The new complaint notes Porter had several brushes with police as he fled south with the body. Law enforcement spotted the car in Lakeville and checked the license plate but didn’t stop him.
That night, Porter was pulled over in Missouri. He told the trooper that he was moving back to Arkansas, and the new pick ax and shovel were tools for his job, the complaint continued. Less than five hours later, he was stopped in Arkansas, still possessing the suitcase and tools.