Johnson City man arrested for killing neighbor

By Suzanne Proulx
By Kelly McCarthy

July 8, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 6:45 PM EDT

Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A Johnson City man is arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the death of his neighbor.

Johnson City Police say Christopher Davis, 43, of Johnson City, killed his downstairs neighbor at 36 Brown St.

Police responded to a 911 call on Monday afternoon and found 50 year-old Patricia LaCaprara dead in her home.

Broome County Coroner Dr. James Terzian said he concurred with the autopsy conducted by Dr. Tim Jones that LaCaprara died as a result of traumatic head injuries.

The manner of her death was ruled homicide.

He declined to provide additional details, citing the ongoing investigation.

LaCaprara is a long-time resident of the first floor at 36 Brown St. Police say Davis has only lived on the second floor for three months.

Johnson City Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said Davis' motive appears to be burglary, but he would not say what was taken from the apartment, other than LaCaprara's cell phone.

Police said Davis is a self-proclaimed tattoo artist, and recently returned to the area to visit a family member. Before this, Davis was in California where, according to Zikuski, he has a criminal history.

At the time of the crime, Davis was alone in the upstairs apartment. Police said his girlfriend left the area last week and they confirmed she is currently out of state.

Neighbors told Action News the landlord of the duplex stopped by Monday to check on LaCaprara and found her on the kitchen floor.

The landlord went across the street to call 911.

Police also arrested 20-year-old Zachary Franks, of Binghamton.

Franks was taken into custody for outstanding warrants, but he was found in the white Toyota Camry that police were searching for Monday night.

The arrests were made within hours of police finding the victim's body.

Zikuski says Davis and Franks were spotted in the white Toyota Camry after the homicide happened, but before police knew who did it.

Broome County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Merrell approached the two suspects in a remote area off Pennsylvania Avenue in the town of Binghamton.

Merrell asked them a few questions and took the license plate number before leaving the area.

"Part of the information he gathered was [to go to] 36 Brown St.," Zikuski said. "He showed up there and was met by all of us there, wondering what was going on. He provided information to us, like I said, that was very valuable, including the car they were in."

Davis was picked up by police around 9 p.m. Monday at a residence in the town of Dickinson. Hours later, Franks turned himself in to the Johnson City Police Department because he knew police were looking for him.

Zikuski says Davis and Franks refer to themselves as relatives but it has not yet been confirmed

Police have not ruled out any additional suspects or charges.

"There's a lot of work to be done, a lot of follow up to do," Zikuski said. "A lot of people don't understand that, that once you make an arrest actually our work has just started. So, there's a lot of stuff still to be done. At this point he's the one suspect charged with the homicide. Whether others will be charged, it remains to be seen."

Police are still searching for the victim's cell phone.

Zikuski said LaCaprara's black iPhone is likely somewhere along Pennsylvania Avenue in Binghamton near Maxian Road. Anyone in the area who sees the iPhone is asked to call Johnson City police.

Zikuski referred to LaCaprara as a model citizen.

"As far as we know," Zikuski said, "Gainfully employed. We spoke to some of her friends. Unfortunate. A very sad situation."

The investigation is being conducted by Johnson City and Binghamton detectives, with help from the Broome County Drug Task Force.

Residents living along Brown Street said Monday the death has left them shaken.

"It makes us all feel a little nervous. Talked to the woman across the street and down there and it makes us all feel a little jittery after all this is going on," said neighbor Edward Michalak.