Murder suspect described as 'troubled'
Caught on camera, NBC 10 obtained exclusive video of the man accused of fatally stabbing a woman aboard a RIPTA bus in Portsmouth.
People who know Christopher James describe him as troubled.
A fellow traveler on a RIPTA Route 60 bus in May 2011 decided to record a conversation with Christopher James.
"I was just shooting the video because he was talking a little off," said Jim, the bus rider and cameraman, who declined to give his last name.
In the video, James says things including, "I've had a couple of beers, but my relationship is with God ... He know me. He knows everyone who's come before me."
Jim took the video never expecting nearly two years later the man across the aisle would be charged with murder.
"He was probably under the influence when I was talking to him that day," Jim said. "But, I never thought he was capable of such a thing."
Portsmouth police said James boarded a Route 60 bus Wednesday morning and waited for his ex-wife, Terry Chiodo, to board, and then stabbed her to death.
The police account sends chills down Deb DeBare's spine, she's worked for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence for decades.
"This one in particular ... seems even more horrific than anything I can remember in the past decade or two," DeBare said. "Because of the fact it occurred on a public bus, in front of people, in broad daylight like that."
DeBare said most domestic violence cases ending in murder usually take place at someone's home, not in public.
"It's certainly rare," she said. "I can't recall an incident like this happening in Rhode Island before."
Neighbors told NBC 10 that James was a troubled character who had problems at his home on Rhodes Street. Joaquim Alvarenga said James never paid for rent or electricity during the five months he's lived there.
"I have the eviction notice for him to get out," Alvarenga said.
NBC 10 also learned James has been in and out of courtrooms and jail for more than two decades. Some of the charges include assault, domestic abuse and violating a protection of order.
DeBare said she thinks the fact that some of those charges were dismissed is disheartening. She hopes it's a wake-up call to everyone.
"The problem is the system isn't really holding abusers accountable enough as we're seeing in situations like this," DeBare said. "Someone can go to court numerous times, have cases dismissed all too often. Have other charges pled down and minor penalties imposed and still be out on the street and still be a serious threat."
Domestic violence experts said Chiodo's death is the first domestic violence killing in 2013. They urge anyone in a violent relationship to turn to The Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center for help. You can reach the center at 1-800-494-8100.