Cops: TZ Bridge jumper tried to kill wife

New Rochelle Police have charged would-be Tappan Zee New Rochelle Police have charged would-be Tappan Zee Bridge jumper Thomas Porzio with trying to kill his wife the previous day. (May 10, 2012) Photo Credit: Photo by New Rochelle Police Department

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A New Rochelle man who attempted to jump from the Tappan Zee Bridge on Sunday had beaten and tried to strangle his wife the day before in an effort to kill her, police said.

New Rochelle police already were searching for Thomas Porzio, 55, when he climbed onto a bridge scaffold and threatened to leap from the span, New Rochelle police Lt. Christopher Hearle said.

A day earlier, Porzio allegedly had beaten his wife with a dumbbell and then attempted to strangle her as she ran from their New Rochelle home, New Rochelle police Capt. Joseph Schaller said.

"He chased her, knocked her down, then started choking her," Schaller said. "Neighbors pulled him off her in the hallway, and then he ran off."

Neighbors called police, but Porzio had fled by the time police arrived at the couple's residence on Pelham Road. His wife, whose name police did not release, was hospitalized with cuts and facial injuries.

Police recovered the dumbbell allegedly used in the attack.

Porzio's wife since has been released from the hospital, Hearle said. The phone number for the couple's residence was disconnected Thursday.

A day after the incident, Porzio nearly tried to kill himself by jumping from the Tappan Zee Bridge. He was talked down by State Police Investigator Joseph Becerra -- the fourth time Becerra has talked a would-be jumper down from the bridge.

A witness said Porzio stopped his car near the middle of the span and frantically ran around the vehicle just before 1:30 p.m.

Porzio climbed down onto scaffolding below the roadway, and State Police arrived on the scene to find him threatening to jump.

Becerra talked to Porzio for more than an hour in an effort to persuade him not to jump. At the time, Becerra and State Police were unaware that Porzio was wanted by New Rochelle authorities.

"He mentioned that he thought his wife was going to leave him," Becerra said Thursday, "and that he had done something bad to her. But he didn't go into details."

State Police handcuffed Porzio and brought him to their barracks, where Becerra was informed of the alleged assault. He took Porzio to the Westchester Medical Center's psychiatric unit for evaluation and called New Rochelle police while en route to the Valhalla hospital.

Porzio was arraigned on one count of attempted second-degree murder in New Rochelle City Court Wednesday and was remanded to the county jail. He faces up to 25 years in state prison if convicted.

A lawyer for Porzio could not be found Thursday.

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