WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – The investigation into a missing Denver-area woman has grimly turned into a search for her body.
Lea Chali Porter, 19, disappeared more than a week ago, and an acquaintance was arrested Thursday on first-degree murder charges after allegedly confessing to her slaying when confronted by Porter’s brother and boyfriend.
Police said Christopher Waide, 23, is cooperating and assisting in the search for her body. He is also charged with sexual assault and is being held at the Adams County jail.
“I don’t know how I’m doing,” Porter’s mother, Rene Jackson, said. “I’m in a nightmare right now.”
Porter was visiting Waide at his Westminster apartment when he said she left in the middle of the night.
Porter’s brother and her boyfriend went to Waide’s apartment on Thursday to speak with him. He had them follow him to a nearby park where he then confessed to murdering her and dumping her body. He also described how he did it, police said. That alleged confession was recorded with 911 on the line.
Since Porter’s disappearance, police had interviewed Waide multiple times and searched his apartment, but apparently never had enough evidence to arrest him. On Wednesday, Waide told CBS4 that Porter left his apartment on her own and that he wanted to help find her.
“Well, overall I just want her to be safe,” he said during the interview. “I don’t have very many friends but the friends I do have I’m very loyal to. So even losing one is a heavy blow for me. I tried texting her. I’ve tried calling her. I’ve left her some messages on Facebook and haven’t heard anything back from her.”
Police removed several trash bins at Waide’s apartment complex and have cordoned off an area near a landfill. But it was unclear whether they targeted the landfill for a search.
“It’s like she disappeared off the face of the earth, and it’s not like her,” Jackson said on Wednesday before Waide’s arrest.
Porter hadn’t used her cellphone since June 3 and her social media accounts and credit cards hadn’t been active since then either. Her car was still in the parking lot of Waide’s apartment after she went missing but her personal belongings inside were gone.
Porter’s mother said her daughter was in the process of moving to Denver and Waide, an acquaintance from high school, offered to help her.
During his interview with CBS4 on Wednesday, Waide said Porter got upset while she was visiting him because he confronted her about having heroin. He said she left after that. Porter’s mother told CBS4 her daughter had no known issues with drugs.
Waide told CBS4 earlier this week the attention was overwhelming: “It’s definitely intimidating because I’m more of a person to listen and not speak. So with everyone trying to get in touch with me and asking me what happened, it’s been a shock to my system.”
Waide’s first appearance in court will be on Monday.