Suicide-Murder in Orlando: Who is Robert Drake?

Excerpt from: http://crimeblog.us/?p=536

Drake

... The name “Drake” has been mysteriously associated with the January 24, 2007 murder of gay porn producer Bryan Kocis since early in the investigation.

Bryan Kocis was 44 when he was stabbed 28 times and his home in Luzerne County PA set on fire. He’d already been in trouble with the law himself.

In 2001 Kocis taped himself having sex with a 15-year-old boy. Kocis pled guilty in 2002 to the charge that he’d sexually abused a child, and Judge Michael Conahan gave Kocis one year of probation. A mitigating circumstance in Kocis’s case allegedly was his claim that he didn’t know the boy was underage.

When Bryan Kocis was murdered, (his house was also burgled before it was burned), he was embroiled in another controversy — a gay porn actor, Brent Corrigan (real name: Sean Lockhart), was alleging that he was still underage when he made some movies for Bryan Kocis’s Cobra Video.

Naturally, some suspicion first fell on Corrigan after Kocis was murdered. It appeared that his conflict with Kocis was still in the Internet pissing match stage on January 24, but it would be an understatement to say that some gay-themed blogs were abuzz like agitated hives of Africanized honeybees over the whole deal after it was learned that Kocis had been the victim of a homicide.

But when two men were arrested in connection with the murder of Bryan Kocis, they were picked up in Virginia. Harlow Cuadra, 26, and Cuadra’s business partner and housemate Joseph Kerekes, age 33, are currently in Pennsylvania awaiting trial on charges inculding conspiracy, homicide, arson, and abuse of a corpse.

Investigators believe that while Cuadra and Kerekes ran a male prostitution service out of their home at 1028 Stratem Court in Virginia Beach they were also plotting to take out Bryan Kocis.

Kocis and Cobra Video were competition for Cuadra and Kerekes.

Online, Joseph Kerekes used the e-mail nick stareyes23510 (source for this information was the domain registration record for NorfolkMaleEscorts.com). A Web search for that handle revealed many ads placed by a male escort in Northern Virginia named “Trent,” who advertised himself as “your typical All-American pretty boy.” “Trent” aimed to fulfill his clients’ “wildest dreams.” The same search also showed that Kerekes (and presumably Cuadra) were associated with the # boisrus.com. The domain registration info for that # showed it was run by “Norfolk Companions,” and the same stareyes23510 screen name was entered in the boisrus.com registration record.

A Google search of “Norfolk Companions” indicated that it was the name for a manufacturer of gay porn DVDs with titles like Young Bucks in Heat. Products being sold by Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes via the “Norfolk Companions” name would have indeed been in direct competition with Cobra Video products. Both seemed to target a specific audience in the gay community — viewers who liked porn featuring men who were supposed to be legal adults but appeared to be younger than 18 years of age.

One theory about the murder of Bryan Kocis does incorporate the conflict he was having with “Brent Corrigan.” It appears that in addition to Cobra Video producing movies targeting the same audience coveted by Norfolk Companions, Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes had their eyes on having Corrigan be in their movies.

Where would “Drake” have fit into this bizarre series of events and allegations?

Authorities in Pennsylvania began looking for Kocis’s killer with only the name “Drake” to go on.

Prior to his death Kocis had planned a meeting at his home in Dallas Township with a man named Drake. He’d received a photo of Drake via e-mail and Drake was supposed to talk over a modeling job with Kocis.

The fire at Kocis’s residence on January 24 was first reported over an hour after that scheduled meeting with “Drake.”

The photo Kocis allegedly received of Drake may have been a photo of Harlow Cuadra.

In March of 2007 The Virginian-Pilot published an article addressing Cuadra and “Drake.” A quote from that piece, authored by Duane Bourne and Jon Frank:

[Cuadra] has not denied being the man in the photograph. […] Cuadra’s photo is easily available on the Internet and […] Cuadra has often had it stolen before and used by other people involved in the male modeling and escort businesses.

[…]

Cuadra told the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre that he was not acquainted with Kocis and was with a client for three hours in Virginia Beach on the night Kocis was killed.

A telephone message at Norfolk Male Escorts said Cuadra was one of 40 male escorts and is now starring in a new porno-graphic film with “Drake.” Cuadra told the Times Leader that he met Drake at a recent adult film convention.

The plot may have thickened a bit in the comments left on yet another blog.

El Mysterio (link basically NSFW) says he is “Just you’re [sic] above average super sexy super-model type who does not want to be judged on his extraordinary beauty but on his really extremely high intellect.”

On April 7, 2007, El Mysterio wrote an entry about Bryan Kocis’s murder titled “Lies Trickery Fabrication Deceit.” The blogger made some interesting points about the conflict between Kocis and Corrigan/Lockhart, but just as interesting was this comment left on the post by “mark@www.boisrus.com” on April 9. It alluded to the first time authorities entered the home shared by Cuadra and Kerekes and added a first name for the “Drake” associated with both Kocis and Cuadra — emphasis has been added:

TO INTERJECT ON A HAPPY NOTE!!! Harlow & Joe are staying put in their home in Va Beach and are repairing the SWAT damage this week! ALSO AS I WRITE THIS MEMO …Harlow is filming his newest XXX blockbuster in Va Beach with NEW STUD Jakob Drake and Harlow…wild stuff too!!!!

One article about Robert Jason Drake seemed to indicate that he may have gone by his middle name. A name not too different from “Jakob.”

Norfolk to Orlando?

If a fatal dispute finally bubbled up between Ralph Gonzalez and Robert Drake last week, the dispute could have been purely financial, and had nothing to do with sexuality. Such volatile situations typically seem to revolve around two fundamental human motivations — greed and lust.

The AP published a story on August 24 indicating that the murder-suicide in Orlando might have been a lovers’ quarrel. But as Towleroad noted, they later scrubbed any references in the story to homosexuality, or the murders and suicide being related to a “lovers’ quarrel.”

So in the traditional media, references to any of the dead men in Ralph Gonzalez’s home being gay have been almost non-existent. In part that may have been because one of the men, David Abrami, was not gay, and many newswriters on deadline don’t have the time or inclination to stop and make distinctions. (It may have been Abrami’s girlfriend in North Carolina who first alerted police to something being wrong at the house in Orlando. See the comments left on the first CrimeBlog.US version of the entry about the murder-suicide for statements regarding Abrami and his friendship with Gonzalez.)

Comments left on this blog, discussions on other blogs and some news accounts did suggest that Gonzalez was “out” to his friends, and that Robert Jason Drake was formerly a roommate of Gonzalez’s.

WFTV reported that Drake did a four-year stint in the Marines. The TV station’s article stated that Drake had been living with his aunt and uncle in East Orlando for at least 6 months and had worked as tiler for his uncle.

As a Marine, the chances for Robert Drake to pass through Norfolk, VA were many. No less than the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command is located in Norfolk, at the Naval Station there. If Drake was at Camp LeJeune or perhaps stationed in San Diego, then the likelihood of his somehow having been connected to Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes was slim. If Drake’s time in the Corps was spent stateside in Norfolk and he was gay, the possibility that Drake may have known about “Norfolk Companions” or NorfolkMaleEscorts.com increases.

Dates of hearings in the Cuadra/Kocis case line up to some degree with the assertions made by Zenoble in his comment on the Brad Blog post. They may also square with one statement Robert Drake reportedly made.

Zenoble: “Robert Drake was trying to hit Gonzalez up for cash to raise money to defend a kid who is on trial for murder up in Pennsylvania.”

Preliminary hearings in the Kocis murder began Monday, August 20. Two days prior to that, it was reported that the house owned by Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes was on the market. Police in Orlando believe Gonzalez, Abrami, and Drake may have died on Tuesday, August 21. The hearings in Pennsylvania continued on August 23.

It was hard to not make note of one of Drake’s relatives reporting that he’d said 6 weeks ago that he was having problems with a friend that apparently made him angry enough to be homicidal.

Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes were finally extradited from Virginia to Pennsylvania about 6 weeks prior to the murder-suicide in Orlando, in early July, 2007. Around that time it became clear that the assets owned by both men were also up for forfeiture, allegations of prostitution in part making up the state of Virginia’s argument for seizing the pair’s assets.

If Robert Jason Drake was indeed trying to get Ralph Gonzalez to give some financial aid to Harlow Cuadra and/or Joe Kerekes, it seems logical to think that the issue would have come up between Drake and Gonzalez over 6 weeks ago, when it became clear the men in Virginia were being extradited and losing their money, as well. It makes sense too that Drake would have been in crisis mode again on August 21st — gruesome testimony about Kocis’s murder (he was nearly decapitated) given on August 20 in the preliminary hearings for Cuadra and Kerekes in Pennsylvania already seemed to be pointing towards the men heading to trial.

Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes had up to 40 escorts in their employ at one point. As the Jeff Gannon/Guckert scandal from a few years ago demonstrated, there seems to be some market in Northern Virginia for male escorts with military “looks” — close-cropped or shaven heads, clean-cut appearances overall, muscular physiques. If Drake was gay, could he have been making money on the side, and come to know Cuadra and Kerekes that way?

Clandestine ties between men ultimately linking a violent homicide in Pennsylvania with a double murder and suicide in Florida 7 months later may not be the politically-charged conspiracy some seem ready to believe this story to be. If those ties do exist, though, it doesn’t matter if politics are only incidental to the story of Ralph Gonzalez, Robert Jason Drake, and David Abrami. The story would still be as weird and complicated as any tale of murder ever gets.

Finally, while some of the statements made by “Zenoble” at The Brad Blog could be made to dovetail with what was known about the murders in Florida and the murder last January in Pennsylvania, one of his assertions couldn’t be addressed. Zenoble wrote that Robert Drake might make “THE REPUBLICAN CLIENT LIST OF THE GAY ESCORT BUSINESS PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE” if Ralph Gonzalez didn’t help fund the defense of Harlow Cuadra and Joe Kerekes.

This statement can be taken one of at least two ways — either the person making it is full of it and spinning a conspiracy theory, or there may be a client list of Republicans who used the services of NorfolkMaleEscorts.com.

If the latter possibility came true, then another story of prostitution and “client lists” from earlier in 2007 would pale in comparison.