BY GABE LICHT
HENNEPIN COUNTY, MN A man with a Delano connection has been charged in Hennepin County with murdering his ex-girlfriend at her Edina home Jan. 4, transporting her body in a suitcase, and burning her remains in New Orleans.
Joseph Porter, 25, is identified in a formal complaint as a resident of Delano. The address listed is a commercial address.
According to that complaint, Porter fatally choked the victim who the Star Tribune has identified as Cristina Prodan, 27 and has since admitted to transporting her body across state lines, driving to a junkyard in New Orleans, where he put her remains in a shipping container, covered it with several gallons of gasoline, and lit the blaze, burning himself in the process.
Police were first called to Prodan’s home Jan. 5 on a welfare check requested by Prodan’s mother. Officers were familiar with the home due to prior calls and knew Porter had met Prodan online, relocated from Arkansas, and began living there in October 2017. In December 2017, Porter was convicted of violating a domestic abuse no-contact order against him.
When officers entered the home, they found it disheveled and neither Prodan nor Porter were present or able to be contacted via phone. Porter’s mother was contacted and reportedly told police she was concerned for Prodan’s safety.
Authorities entered Porter’s license plate into law enforcement databases and learned he had been in Lakeville; Greene County, MO; and Evening Shade, AR.
During the stop in Missouri, due to expired registration and contact with Prodan, an officer observed large suitcases and a brand new pickaxe and shovel in Porter’s vehicle. Porter explained he was “moving back to Arkansas from Minnesota” and “needed the tools for his job.”
During the third stop, the suitcases and tools were once again observed.
An officer in Lonoke County, AR later located Porter asleep in a different vehicle Jan. 8. Porter had burns to his face and indicated he was having problems with his vehicle. Because the officer was unaware of any investigation involving Porter, he was allowed to drive from the area in the vehicle, which was later identified as being stolen.
A day later, Prodan’s cellphone pinged in the area of Cabot, AR. Officers learned her phone had been pawned in this area. Video surveillance showed the defendant and a man identified as his estranged husband.
Law enforcement then located and arrested Porter at his husband’s residence.
They later learned the New Orleans Fire Department had responded to a fire in a shipping container in a junkyard in the city the evening of Jan. 6, and located a badly burned body, that has since been identified as Prodan, leading to the murder charges, following federal kidnapping charges in January.
When questioned, Porter reportedly admitted to punching Prodan several times before placing her in a choke hold until she died. When he realized she was dead, he placed her body in a large suitcase and started driving south, he allegedly admitted to authorities.
Porter is currently being held in the Hennepin County Jail. If convicted of the charge of second-degree, non-premeditated murder, he could face 40 years in prison.