When Christopher Tucker, 34, asked 19-year-old Tara Serino to marry him, she said no. So Tucker snapped her neck, he told police.
Tucker, a Kutztown, Pennsylvania man, confessed to murdering the teenager around Halloween. He doesn’t remember the exact date, he told police. But he remembers killing her over a scorned marriage proposal, wrapping her body in a rug, and fleeing to Illinois, where he was arrested trying to break into a farm vehicle with the farmer still inside.
Serino’s father last saw the teen the morning before Halloween, when she went out with a friend, according to an affidavit reviewed by The Daily Beast. Serino told him she would call later to let him know she was safe.
But the call never came. On Halloween night, Serino’s father called the police to report Serino missing. Police knocked on Tucker’s door, but heard no response.
In fact, Serino was likely dead inside the house and Tucker was well on his way to Illinois, the affidavit reveals.
The exact nature of Serino and Tucker’s relationship is ambiguous. Serino’s father told police she described Tucker as a friend, although a police report describes Tucker and Serino as being in a romantic relationship. Sometime between the morning of Oct. 30 and Halloween night, Tucker asked Serino to marry him, he told investigators, according to the affidavit. Serino said no, and told him she was seeing other people.
Then, Tucker claimed to investigators, Serino made a comment to the effect of “just kill” her. Tucker admitted to strangling the 19-year-old. When Serino survived, Tucker poked out her eyes, snapped her neck, and hit her with a hatchet, he told police. The affidavit also accuses Tucker of using a 25-pound weight plate in the murder. Then he wrapped Serino’s body in a rug and drove over 200 miles to Iroquois County, Illinois.
Illinois police weren’t looking for Tucker. But on the evening of Nov. 1, the Iroquois County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call from a truck stop. A farmer had barricaded himself inside a farming combine machine while Tucker attempted to break in. Arresting officers said Tucker was making no sense, and transported him to a nearby medical center. While under medical supervision, Tucker told a detective about murdering Serino.
Meanwhile, Tucker’s father received a call informing him that Tucker had been hospitalized in Illinois. The elder Tucker drove to his son’s house, where he found the door closed but unlocked. A front window was shattered.
Tucker’s father went inside. There, on a couch, were Serino’s purse and cell phone. Tucker’s father drove the belongings to Serino’s father, who had reported the teenager missing the previous night. He never checked his son’s bedroom.
But when police entered Tucker’s home shortly thereafter, they found what Tucker’s father hadn’t. Serino’s body was wrapped in a bedroom rug, exactly as Tucker had described to a detective at the Illinois medical center.
Tucker has been charged with first degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of instruments of a crime including the hatchet and weight plate he allegedly used to “cut strangle and bludgeon the victim to death,” the affidavit reads.
In an obituary, Serino’s family remembered her as a kind and creative young woman, who was deeply involved with her church community. Serino loved the outdoors and art, and focused her photography on the natural surroundings of her Pennsylvania town.
She would have turned 20 this month.