Lea Chali Porter's Family Upset by Plea Deal With Her Killer, Christopher Waide

In June 2014, we told you about the arrest of Christopher Waide in regard to the disappearance of Pueblo's Lea Chali Porter, nineteen.

Waide was busted on suspicion of sexual assault and murder even though Porter's body hadn't been recovered at the time of our post.

More than a year later, Porter's remains still haven't been found — one reason cited by 17th Judicial District DA Dave Young for offering Waide the opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder in the case.

As a result, Waide has been sentenced to nearly half-a-century behind bars. Yet Porter's loved ones are upset that any deal was made with the man who took their loved one's life and tossed out her body like so much trash.

The Help Find Lea Porter Facebook page was created shortly after she vanished, and it remains online and active at this writing. For the past year-plus,it's featured numerous photos and missing posters of Porter, as well as a screen capture from a Tumblr page that offers an indication of her values:

While the original missing persons report on Porter was filed on June 5, 2014, the Canon City Daily Record quoted Porter's mom, Rene Jackson, as saying she'd actually been gone since June 3.

In a June 11 article, Jackson told the newspaper Porter and her boyfriend had spent the night at the Castle Rock Inn in Castle Rock on June 2.

However, Porter is said to have been upset that her boyfriend was moving out of state and traveled to Westminster on the 3rd to stay with what was described as "a male friend" with whom she'd gone to school.

The latter was subsequently identified as Waide, seen in the following Facebook photo:

Porter's car was found abandoned at Waide's apartment building.

As for Waide, the Daily Record reported that he initially told police Porter had received a phone call at about 11 p.m. on June 3 and split.

According to his account, he last saw her leaving in a light-colored truck.

In the days that followed, Waide placed numerous items about Porter on his Facebook page.

For instance, he shared the following poster on June 6 under the line "Please share this. We just want to know she is safe. We miss her very much:"

The next day, June 7, and twice on June 9, Waide put up another poster....

...along with similar entreaties. The first item read, "MISSING: LEA PORTER. PLEASE SHARE THIS ANYONE/EVERYONE!!!!" The second said, "My friend, Lea from Colorado is missing since Tuesday. I'm really sad and scared. If you live around Canon City or Denver, please let me or family know if you've seen her. THANKS!" And the third simply states, "Please Lea come back to us."

On June 12, however, Waide presented a very different story. Porter's brother and her boyfriend reportedly traveled to his Westminster apartment, and during a subsequent conversation between them at a park, Waide allegedly confessed to murdering her.

Moreover, the conversation was recorded.

Shortly thereafter, Waide was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder and sexual assault. But according to 7News, complications in prosecuting him surfaced.

The station notes that Waide told investigators he'd placed Porter's body in a dumpster. 

This claim prompted a 45-day search of the landfill to which the dumpster's contents had been transported. But while Porter's clothes and cell phone were recovered, her body was not.

Without her remains, Young feared that a jury wouldn't convict Waide of first-degree murder or sexually assaulting Porter. Hence, his office allowed Waide to plead guilty to second-degree murder and sexual exploitation of a child — an accusation based on twenty-plus pornographic images found on his computer during the investigation in the Porter case.

The stipulated sentence: 48 years in prison.

This arrangement incensed the managers of the Help Find Lea Porter Facebook page, as illustrated by the following graphic:

On Saturday, September 26, a Help Find Lea Porter link to a Canon City Record article about the announcement of the pact was accompanied by this note:
MORE reasons from elected DA as to why the plea deal.

We had more confidence in potential jurors in that jurisdiction than they had.

Apparently the Adams County DA's don't think very highly of the people; the potential jurors of Adams County.
Young defended his choice in a statement that reads, "The defendant will receive the maximum sentence of 48 years for second-degree murder and most probably will spend the rest of his life in prison. I know the family is very frustrated with the legal system right now and I empathize with this family that has lost their nineteen-year-old daughter. This case has been one of our highest priority cases since June of 2014."

Waide is set to be sentenced on November 6. In the meantime, Rene Jackson spoke to 7News about her unhappiness with the deal. Here's that report.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts