In a chilling 911 call, a Colorado man tells the 911 operator that he is calling to confess to killing 19-year-old Lea Porter.
“I’d like to confess to a murder,” Christopher Waide says to the 911 operator. “The case is for the disappearance of Lea Porter.”
Lea Porter went missing from Westminster, Colorado, on Jun 3, 2014.
Waide, then 23, went to high school with Lea Porter. According to Waide, she was hanging out at his apartment while preparing to move to a new place.
She was missing for about a week when her brother Maxx Porter confronted Waide about his sister’s disappearance.
Maxx Porter and a few other friends met with Waide at a gazebo in a park near Waide’s apartment. Waide has an obsession with tarot cards and Maxx lured him there under the guise of doing a tarot card reading to help find his sister and secretly recorded their conversation on his phone.
On the recording, Maxx Porter is heard asking Waide to tell him what happened to his sister, but Waide denied knowing anything.
“It went back and forth, like, 10, 20 times: ‘I know,’ and, ‘No, no, I don't. You know.’ ‘No, I don't.’ And eventually he cracked,” Maxx Porter told ABC News “20/20.”
On the recording, Waide says to Maxx Porter, “All right, look … You have every right to be angry with me.” Waide finally admitted for the first time that he killed Lea Porter – but he told Maxx Porter and his friends he was acting in self-defense.
Maxx Porter said that Waide claimed he and Lea “went out to eat. She came back. They had sex. Then she wanted drugs, so she took his knife and tried to stab him for drug money.”
On the recording, Waide tells Maxx that he squeezed her throat to get her to let go of the knife.
“I thought that her muscles would relax when she went unconscious, and that I could gradually move the knife away and let her go and let her regain consciousness. But, that didn't happen,” Waide is heard saying.
Maxx Porter said he then punched Waide in the face after what he heard.
“I made sure that Maxx got at least one good shot in on his face before I grabbed him and pulled him off,” Maxx’s friend Eric Fey, who was also in park, told “20/20.” “ I want to jump and go after him myself, but I wanted him to rot more than that.”
Waide said he wanted to go home and prepare for his surrender to police, but Maxx Porter and Fey called 911 and forced Waide to get on the phone to tell the 911 operator that he was calling to confess to a murder.
“It was an amazing scenario that I'd never seen in 25 years of being a prosecutor, where a family member confronts a suspect and essentially gets a confession out of the suspect,” Adams County District Attorney Dave Young told “20/20.”
By this point, police were already suspicious that Waide was responsible for Lea Porter’s disappearance. They had previously brought him for questioning once, and Waide had admitted Lea was with him at his apartment the night before she disappeared. But police said at that time they didn’t have enough evidence to charge him so he was released.
Not willing to wait for authorities, Maxx Porter set a trap for Waide to get him to confess.
Unbeknownst to Waide or Maxx Porter and his friends, police surveillance units had been watching Waide since after his first interrogation with police. They had even followed him to his school, where Waide was majoring in criminal justice.
“If you want to learn how to clean up a crime scene, some of the challenges police have in making sure that all the evidence is acquired -- these are things they’re learning,” Waide’s criminal justice professor Robert Wells told “20/20.”
Police had been tracking Waide when Maxx Porter made Waide talk to the 911 operator. After Waide confessed, police moved in immediately to arrest him.
In the interrogation room again, this time with a lawyer present, Waide stood by his story that Lea Porter had come at him with a knife and he had killed her in self-defense, but Waide admitted to detectives that he took steps to hide her body.
“I re-clothed her and I placed her on the bed while I started off gathering her belongings from where they were in the living room and bringing them into my bedroom,” Waide told police during the interrogation.
Waide said he forced Lea’s body into a duffle bag and then left it in a dumpster outside of his apartment. The dumpster’s contents had already been taken to a landfill by the time Waide admitted this to police.
“His efforts to clean and purge the crime scene -- those are things he could have learned right there in my class,” said Wells.
Authorities had searched a landfill for 40 consecutive days but did not find Lea Porter’s body. But they did find a pillowcase containing her cell phone, wallet, ID and her clothes. Although authorities don’t believe Waide’s self-defense story, they were hesitant to take the case to jury without a body.
"We need a body," said Westminster Police Det. Matt Calhoon. "There are very few solved no-body homicides."
Instead, prosecutors offered Waide a plea deal of second degree murder in return for information about where her body is. He accepted and was sentenced to 48 years in prison. He maintained that he put the body in dumpster.
“We could not go to a judge and say, ‘We can prove that this man's lying to us. We want you to reject this plea bargain.’ There's no way we can prove that. Now, if the body's found somewhere else, we can certainly come back and say, ‘Wait in minute, we had a plea bargain. He lied obviously, because the body was found in a different location,’” Young said.
Waide, now 26, is serving his sentence at Sterling Correctional Facility, where he will be released from prison in 2062.
Lea Porter’s family doesn’t believe Waide and remains determined to find her body.
“I want to do it for her,” Maxx Porter said. “She doesn’t deserve to be just tossed away like a piece of trash.”