Like a gaping black hole, the picture window in front of his home, blown out by the powerful blaze that ripped through it last week, provided a dark portal of all that was left of the mans life on Midland Drive.
Of all the people on this block, Parsons said, sitting back in a chair, recounting how Kocis life spun in this direction, we were probably the only ones he stayed friendly with.
Most others in the neighborhood came to regard him as a strange outsider, a square peg among these well-groomed homes with roundly trimmed shrubs. They established that opinion, permanently, about six years ago when state police raided his home and found boxes of pornographic materials, some featuring underage boys.
The Parsons, both 67-year-old retirees, knew Kocis before all that.
They knew an actual person before he was the bizarre, mysterious man everyone heard plenty about but rarely saw in recent years.
They knew him before people started pointing out his home to one another, laughing, snickering or even warning to keep children clear of it.
During most of the 20 years Kocis lived on Midland Drive, people were more likely to motion toward the wooden home with a nod of approval.
For a little more than $56,000, the 24-year-old purchased the home at 60 Midland Drive, where investigators, after dousing an intentionally ignited blaze Tuesday night, found his charred body stabbed to death. Back then, he was just a few years out of college at Rochester Institute of Technology, about seven years removed from winning a nationwide photography contest as a high school senior, and about eight years after Troop 247 honored the future pornography producer for achieving the rank of Eagle Scout.
When he moved in, the home was a bit run down. But Kocis remodeled the inside, mostly by himself. It was always one of the more impressive residences on the block.
At the time, for him to be young and single, I was surprised he owned a house, Nancy Parsons said. He was very ambitious.
Kocis held a specialized position as a biomedical photographer at a Kingston eye doctor until a merger with another office in the mid-90s caused him to dislike his job, and he left. After a few failed business ventures into products the residents of Midland Drive would call legitimate, he launched the pornography Web site, Cobra Video.
He was very sociable before then, the Parsons recalled, a consistent presence at neighborhood gatherings.
He possessed a dynamic personality: quite confident, maybe a little too arrogant even, definitely intelligent and always generous when selecting birthday and Christmas gifts.
He held particular fondness for his mother, father and sister, the Parsons said.
Those close family members have declined interviews. Media coverage of his murder has upset them. They read of his death in Thursdays morning newspapers before being notified by police.
In a brief conversation, his sister, Melody Bartusek, politely suggested, Why dont you write about how much money he donated to charity? He was a wonderful and good person. He would do anything for anybody.
Without specifying which charities, she hung up.
Kocis carefully guarded lifestyle exploded into public view in 2001 when police arrested him for having sex in his home with a 15-year-old boy. After proving the boy lied about his age, he pleaded guilty to one count of sexual abuse of children in 2002.
In a neighborhood where a casual wave while walking the dog can lead to a conversation, which can lead to an exchange of gossip, everyone soon knew Kocis legal past and, furthermore, what he did for a living.
The lesser charge to which he pleaded didnt require him to register as a sex offender under Megans Law. But neighborly gawking and talking ensured every new arrival was well aware of Kocis.
When 28-year-old Jeanette Niebauer and her husband, Adam, moved to Midland Drive in 2003, residents stopped to introduce themselves and tell her, Just so you know, a pedophile lives on this block.
The turbulent period marked an undeniable low point for Kocis. In December 2001, Kocis declared bankruptcy in federal court, hoping to eliminate $222,800 of debt mostly from credit cards and loans.
Soon after resolving his legal troubles, though, interest in Kocis Internet pornography products apparently boomed.
Charging anywhere from 8.5 cents to about 23 cents per minute, depending on how much time a customer would purchase at once, Kocis became known within the adult film world for videos featuring young-looking men, said Doug Lawrence of Adult Video News, an industry publication. Following his murder last week, an MTV producer contacted The Citizens Voice, saying he had been in conversations with Kocis concerning a possible documentary about Cobra Video.
Im in the wrong business developed into the recurring neighborhood joke on Midland Drive as his success gained visibility. How could anyone miss him zooming past in his Maserati convertible or BMW sport utility? Recently, he added a high-end, V8 Aston Martin to his collection.
They wondered how his cottage industry could be so lucrative, and they whispered to each other about two lake-front properties he purchased in the Mountain Top area.
According to deeds filed in the Luzerne County Courthouse, Kocis owned adjacent Rice Township parcels: one acquired for $159,900 in 2004 and another bought for $225,000 in 2006. The documents show no mortgages against the properties.
Nancy Parsons and other neighbors said Kocis claimed he paid cash for both.
While his business prospects soared, his life within the neighborhood withdrew into repose.
Perhaps embarrassed, some neighbors said, his movements resembled a reticent recluse. He became a rare, mysterious sight, emerging briefly, almost always wearing aviator sunglasses, only to climb in his car and speed away.
Michael Parsons started cutting his grass and shoveling his driveway because Kocis preferred to remain hidden.
It was like we only ever saw him go from his front door to his car, said neighbor Amy Withers, 22.
Though less frequent than before, Kocis still stopped at the Parsons home to say hello or deliver a case of beer, thanking Michael Parsons for the lawn care.
In the final years and months of his life, Kocis behavior became increasingly erratic, even paranoid. Lately, Michael Parsons keeps replaying one such occurrence over and over in his mind.
Michael remembers knocking on the front door of the cozy, two-story house one day, needing to speak with his neighbor about something he cant recall.
Surely, Michael knew Kocis was home. All of his cars filled the driveway, and yet he didnt come to the door. So Michael went back inside and called Kocis on the phone.
No answer. Michael left a message.
Similar sequences occurred repeatedly in recent years, with Kocis refusing to open the door unless he had expected or screened for a visitor. Sometimes 20 minutes, sometimes even an hour later, Kocis would call back, asking what Michael needed.
Whoever he let in that night, he had to have known, Michael said, making an observation later confirmed by a source close to the investigation who said authorities found no sign of forced entry. He had to have known they were coming.
Robert Kalinowski, Dave Janoski and Nichole Dobo, staff writers, contributed to this report.