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Murder of Kelly Dwyer: Kris Zocco is accused of killing her during a violent sex act

Mugshot of Kris Zocco
Kris Zocco murdered Kelly Dwyer and dumped her body in a rural area of Wisconsin. Pic credit: Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections

48 Hours on ID looks at the case of Kelly Dwyer, who was reported missing on Saturday, October 12, 2013, in Milwaukee, and wasn’t seen alive again.

Kelly Dwyer, 27, was known to have gone on a date with 38-year-old Kris Zocco around the time she went missing, which made him an instant suspect.

The couple was spotted on surveillance cameras entering Zocco’s apartment, but crucially she was not seen leaving.

Her body was found over a year and a half later by a hiker in Jefferson County who noticed a glinting in the sun, which turned out to be a human skull. Unfortunately, Dwyer’s remains had become so decomposed that it was impossible to identify a cause of death.

Police were highly suspicious of Zocco but lacked definitive evidence to justify an immediate arrest. Apart from the surveillance footage, police were also aware that Zocco had driven to Madison on the day Dwyer was reported missing, meaning he would have passed through Jefferson County.

Zocco claimed that he had made the journey to pick up cheese from a store in Madison for a long-time girlfriend. Police considered this claim to be very dubious, especially as the cheese he supposedly bought was readily available in stores closer to his home.

Kris Zocco liked to choke women during sex

Investigators found a video on Zocco’s cellphone that showed Dwyer struggling to breathe during sex with him three weeks earlier.

A former girlfriend of Zocco’s later testified that Zocco would regularly choke her until near unconsciousness while they had sex.

Police believe that on the night Dwyer disappeared, the pair had gone back to Zocco’s apartment on the east side of Milwaukee, where they engaged in consensual sex. However, Zocco then performed a rough sex act for his own gratification that culminated in him strangling Dwyer to death.

Rather than dial 911 and come clean about what happened, investigators believe he then thoroughly cleaned his apartment before putting Dwyer’s naked body in a golfing bag.

After placing the golfing bag with her remains in the trunk of his car, he then drove out to the rural Jefferson County, where he dumped her body in a thicket.

Finally, in 2017, Zocco was officially charged with murdering Kelly Dwyer. He received three charges in total: first-degree reckless homicide, hiding a corpse, and strangulation and suffocation.

In December 2018, Kris Zocco was sentenced to 31 years in prison, and 19 years of extended supervision.

Zocco was already serving a 19-year sentence for unrelated charges that emerged when police began investigating Dwyer’s disappearance.

More from 48 Hours on ID

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on 48 Hours on ID.

Michael Gargiulo, aka The Hollywood Ripper, preyed on women in their own homes for 15-years. In 2001 he stabbed 22-year-old Ashley Ellerin 47 times. The case garnered extra publicity because Ellerin had a date that night with That 70s Show actor Ashton Kutcher.

Technical Sergeant Curtis Eccleston was murdered by his wife and the man she was having an affair with on an army base in Okinawa, Japan. Barbara Keiko persuaded Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Cron to slash her husband to death with a box cutter.

48 Hours on ID airs Sunday at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.

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