DALLAS TWP. – A convicted sex offender who owned a company that produced gay pornographic movies was dead at the time a fire ripped through his township home, authorities said.
The burned body of Bryan Charles Kocis, 44, also known as Bryan Phillips, was found by firefighters Wednesday night after they responded to the blaze at his home at 60 Midland Drive. The fire was reported around 8:30 p.m.
Kocis was identified by dental records during an autopsy on Thursday, Luzerne County Coroner Dr. John Consalvo said. He ruled the death a homicide.
Consalvo said Kocis died from multiple stab wounds and was dead before the fire broke out. The coroner based his determination on the absence of burnt particles in the victim’s pharyngeal airway and lungs.
“There were multiple stab wounds to the body, to the torso and neck, and we believe that the victim was dead at the time of the fire,” Consalvo said at a Thursday afternoon news conference at the Dallas Township Police Department.
Autopsy results couldn’t determine how long Kocis was dead before the fire started, Consalvo said.
District Attorney David W. Lupas and state police Lt. Frank Hackin, the criminal investigation unit supervisor for Troop P, said Kocis’ background and his business is being looked at as a motive to his murder.
Kocis’ company, Cobra Video, with an address on the Dallas Memorial Highway, produces and sells gay pornographic movies. Established in 2001, the company sells films and clothing on its Web site, www.cobravideo.com.
When police raided Kocis’ home during a 2001 child pornography investigation, they seized video cameras, photos, magazines, computer discs and more than 600 videos and uncovered a video production studio in Kocis’ basement.
“We’re definitely interested in any people he associated with,” Hackin said. “We need to know as much about this victim as we can, his timeline, people he’s been associated with, people he’s been talking to. The victim’s past is going to lead us to solve this crime.”
Hackin said it’s a strong possibility that the fire was set to cover up Kocis’ killing.
Neighbor Jennifer Hughes said Kocis kept to himself, and had many friends visit his home, mostly young males. Kocis also had parties at his house and would sit in a hot tub on his deck with friends, Hughes said.
“I knew what he was involved in unfortunately, it was not nice at all,” Hughes said. “All the time we saw him he would wear the same aviator glasses, baseball cap and jeans. He wouldn’t say hello to anybody. He would just keep to himself.
“I know his background so I’m not totally shocked. He had boys over all the time, young boys,” she said.
A witness said a white or silver sport utility vehicle was seen leaving Kocis’ driveway at the same time smoke alarms were heard sounding inside the home.
“My daughter’s friend saw a SUV back out of the driveway and when she got out of her car, she heard smoke alarms go off,” Hughes said.
Kocis was arrested on several felony and misdemeanor sex offenses, including the July 2001 rape of a 15-year-old boy from South Whitehall Township.
The boy told authorities that he met Kocis in a gay Internet chat room. Kocis took the boy to his home in May and early June 2001, where they engaged in sexual acts that Kocis videotaped, according to court records.
All of the charges were dropped except for a single count of sexual abuse of children. Kocis was sentenced in May 2002 to one year probation.
On Thursday, state criminal investigators and fire marshals combed the remains of Kocis’ charred home and removed evidence, including a box of gay pornographic movies.
Several investigators could be seen through a large broken window concentrating their search at the front of the home.
Hackin wouldn’t say where inside the home Kocis was found, and declined comment on whether investigators know how the fire was started.
Cobra Video filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of California for breach of contract and trademark violations against an actor in several of its movies. The actor appeared in four Cobra Video titles while underage and forged documents in order to work for the studio, the suit alleges.
A settlement conference involving the suit is scheduled for Feb. 21.