DA identifies murder victim

The MetroWest Daily News

May 3, 2003

CAMBRIDGE - A murder victim found in Framingham's Sudbury River last year has been identified as a Texas man reported missing days before his body was discovered, the Middlesex District Attorney's office said.

Peter Kokinakis, 40, of Houston, was reported missing by his girlfriend a few days after she last spoke with him on his cell phone last April 5, District Attorney Martha Coakley said yesterday.

The unidentified girlfriend last saw him driving his 1995 Mitsubishi Montero three days before their phone conversation, Coakley said. Kokinakis was last seen in Port Arthur, Texas, which is near the Louisiana border, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety missing person list.

Coakley said the circumstances surrounding Kokinakis' trip to Massachusetts and his death in Framingham are still a "mystery," but authorities believe he drove across the country in his blue-green SUV. That vehicle is now missing.

"We have reason to believe that he was in that car and traveling in Massachusetts," she said. "We still have some theories on why he may have been up here and we're investigating that. We can't say it is random. We can't say it wasn't random."

A trip from downtown Houston to Framingham would take almost 30 hours and cover more than 1,800 miles.

Kokinakis was known to leave his home for periods of time without keeping in touch with family or friends, Coakley said.

Authorities do not believe Kokinakis has any family or business ties in Massachusetts. His younger brother, Chris, lives in Houston with his wife. They refused to talk about the murder when contacted at their home.

Coakley would not say if the trip or murder were drug-related, but a missing person listing on www.mpccn.com said Kokinakis "suffers from periodic bursts of depression as the result of drug usage."

Kokinakis was positively identified by fingerprints thanks to an "alert" Quincy police dispatcher, Coakley said.

"It was really quick work on his part," she said.

Bob Lingoes, known by his colleagues as "the investigator dispatcher," found information about the unidentified murder victim on massmostwanted.org and passed it on to a national missing person's Web site.

Lingoes called Framingham police after he found out the organization, doenetwork.org, had a possible match in Kokinakis, Coakley said.

A mother and her two sons found Kokinakis last April 11 under the Wickford Road bridge, which passes over the Sudbury River in a quiet Framingham neighborhood near the Mass Pike.

Kokinakis' body had been wrapped in two tarps and a blanket and weighted down with cinderblocks and at least one lead pipe.

An autopsy concluded Kokinakis was killed by blunt head trauma and asphyxiation. The medical examiner said Kokinakis had been dead between two and 12 days when he was found.

Authorities now believe Kokinakis was killed immediately before he was dumped in the river at the Wickford Road bridge, Coakley said. Kokinakis was a large man, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 220 pounds.

"We do have reason to believe that he was killed at or about the time that his body was dumped in the river," she said. "We have not ruled out that the body was dumped off the (Massachusetts) Turnpike, but it makes more sense that it was dumped off the bridge."

Coakley is asking for the public's help in finding Kokinakis' SUV, which she said could lead to his killer.

"In terms of solving the rest of this mystery, it's really important for us to get any information that can help us locate that automobile," she said. "There may be other clues in the automobile."

Framingham police now say they have to start from scratch to find out why Kokinakis ended up in a Framingham river.

"We have no idea what he was doing here. Now what our guys have to do is backtrack a year," Lt. Lou Griffith said. "It's a starting point. We know who he is now. Before we just had a body."

Kokinakis was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, a white plaid long-sleeved button-down shirt, Wrangler blue jeans, and brown Sketcher shoes - the same clothes found on the man in the river.

The tattoo authorities hoped would help identify Kokinakis last year turned out to be his initials, P.K. Photographs of the tattoo in old English script on Kokinakis' upper right shoulder were released with a composite sketch of his face last May.

Anyone with information about Kokinakis' death is asked to call Framingham Police at 508-872-1212 or the State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney's office at 617-679-6600.