"Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever."
It was the 10th of October 2013. Kelly Dwyer was due to meet her boyfriend for a night out. The 27 year old finally felt happy with how her life was going. She was having fun and enjoying life. It had taken her a few years to feel happy with her life and how things were going for her.
In 2002, Kelly's parents, Tony and Maureen , told her they were divorcing. She graduated from high school just a year later and was a little lost as a result. Kelly no longer knew where home was for her or where she wanted to build her life. She found her answer four years later when she moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The place and people suited her well and she found her footing there.
Life was good in Milwaukee. Kelly got a job she loved as an educator with Lululemon. It suited her well as she loved yoga and working out. Her coworkers quickly became her friends and they met up outside of work too. Kelly also worked part time as a nanny. It helped to support her life and lifestyle in Milwaukee.
One of the reasons Kelly loved Milwaukee was for the night life and vibe of the place. There were a number of trendy spots near to where she lived. She liked to be seen out and about and soak up the atmosphere of popular places.
Tony visited his daughter in September 2013 and he saw how happy she was . She loved her job and told him about her boyfriend Kris Zocco. He was a wealthy IT executive and they had been dating for a year.
Kris seemed like a great match for Kelly. He was 38 years old, smart, hard working but loved sports and to have fun. He had a degree in International Business and had once worked in IT for the Yankees. When he left New York, he moved to Milwaukee and got a job at a relocation management company working as the CIO. He seemed to be doing really well in life. He had a nice condo, car and plenty of money. Kelly liked both his serious and fun side. He was always up for a night out on the town. That night, the 10th of October, Kelly met up with Kris. She met him at his apartment at Lafayette Towers.
Before 8pm, they left the apartment for a short time. During that time, they tried to get cocaine. They returned to the apartment and went out again a short while later. They went for drinks at a bar called Allium. It was just across from the apartment block and they spoke to other people there. It looked like they had a great time.It was around 2.37am when they got back to the apartment and they were still talking and telling stories.
CCTV footage of Kelly and Kris from the Lafayette Tower
On the 12th of October, Kelly didn't show up for work and her coworkers tried to contact her but she wasn't answering her calls. It went straight to voicemail. Kelly normally uploaded her movements on social media but there was no social media activity. Kelly was reported missing. Police retraced her movements. The last person she had been seen with was Kris.
Kelly in Lafayette Tower after returning from a night out with Kris
Police spoke with Kris. Things were not as perfect for Kelly as she liked to portray. For one, Kris wasn't her boyfriend. They weren't exclusive. Kris had a long term girlfriend, Meagan and Kelly was dating other guys as well as Kris. Kris told police that he was with Kelly the night of the 10th but he also told them that she was with other guys too so they would need to look into that. She was active on a number of different dating sites.
Kris answered any questions the police had.He said they often partied together and had a good time and described them as "friends with benefits". He said that that night was no different. They did cocaine, drank, had sex and passed out. Kris said that Kelly left around 9 am and he knew this because he heard the front door close.Where she went after that, he had no idea but she had told a friend at Allium that she had the following day off and planned to take it easy.
Police had no real reason to suspect anything bad had happened to Kelly at that point apart from the silence. She had not used her phone, social media or credit card and that in and of itself was alarming. Kris was the last person they knew who had seen Kelly so they believed he may know more than what he was saying. As Kris had told the police he did cocaine in the apartment, they were able to get a search warrant. They found drugs in the apartment-cocaine, marijuana, hydrocodone and oxycodone. They also found child pornography on CD-ROMs in his apartment.
On his phone, police found disturbing images and videos of Kelly. She appeared to be in distress and looked as if she couldn't breathe. One video was taken just 3 weeks before she went missing. In some of the images, Kelly looked unconscious on the bed. They now knew that Kris was hiding something.
As police searched the apartment, a number of things troubled them. In the bathroom it looked like the shower curtain had been torn down as the hooks remained. Molly, the cadaver dog, was brought in to sniff for odour of decomposing human remains. She spent time at the top of the bed. As a result, police believed that Kelly was dead and died on the bed. They knew that Kelly had been at the apartment that night, they had footage of her entering the apartment. They knew Kris was with her. They had footage of him with her and he confirmed same. They knew the two of them engaged in dangerous sexual activity which resulted in difficulty breathing and possibly unconsciousness from the videos and images found on Kris's phone. Furthermore, they believed Kelly never left the apartment alive as there was no footage showing Kelly leaving.
Even with those details though, police didn't have enough to charge Kris with anything in relation to Kelly's disappearance. They did have enough to charge him for drug offences and he was sentenced to 19 years in prison.
Police continued to work on the case. They had no body which made it difficult but they were determined to build a strong case against Kris. On the 11th of October , at 10.06 am, CCTV showed Kris leaving the apartment and two minutes later Kelly's phone went dead. Police believed at that point he took Kelly's body out of the apartment in a golf bag and put it in the boot of the car. Kris's girlfriend Meagan told police that there was a large travel golf bag missing from the apartment.
That night, the 11th of October, he had made plans to meet Meagan for dinner at 7.30pm. He arrived over an hour late . Meagan told police that he was not himself that night. He was nervous and sweated so much in bed she had to remove the sheets. Police believed he was nervous because his car was outside and Kelly's body was still in the boot. They believed he only disposed of the body the next day.
The next morning, he took a 160 mile roundtrip to buy cheese and it was during that trip that police believed he disposed of Kelly's body. It would be another couple of years before police got the evidence they needed for Trial.
On the 1st of May 2015, Kelly's remains were found 45 miles west of Milwaukee by a man out for a walk. Five years after Kelly first disappeared , police finally believed they had enough to charge Kris. He faced Trial for first degree reckless homicide, hiding a corpse and strangulation.
It was the Prosecution's case that Kris and Kelly were having sex and he killed her while strangling her as part of a sex act. It was their case that he enjoyed taking women to the brink of death for his own sexual gratification. Women from his past confirmed he enjoyed it as far back as high school. The Prosecution then claimed he wrapped Kelly's body in the shower curtain , put her into the golf bag and then the boot of his car.
The Defense argued that all of the cameras from the apartment block had not been preserved for them to view and it was their case that Kelly left at 9am that morning of her own accord. They claimed that she may have come to harm through one of the men from the various dating sites Kelly used.
The Jury found Kris guilty and was sentenced to 31 years. That was in addition to the 19 years he had already been sentenced to.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
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