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Man Charged With Helping Friend Commit Suicide

June 20, 1988

MANORVILLE, N.Y. (AP) _ A man who twice saved his best friend from trying to kill himself was in jail on manslaughter charges Monday, accused of helping the man commit suicide on a third try.

Thomas Petrillo, 25, told police that his friend, John Stockle, 29, was despondent over the break-up of his marriage and that Petrillo agreed to help him end his life.

″He feels his friend is better off now,″ said Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney John Collins, who videotaped Petrillo’s confession. ″He seems to have done it out of affection and friendship. He has shown no remorse.″

Petrillo told authorities Stockle was depressed and begged for his help in committing suicide after the two shared a few beers early Saturday.

Stockle, an unemployed auto mechanic, wanted to hook up a flexible pipe to his car exhaust to kill himself by carbon monoxide poisoning but couldn’t get the engine started, Petrillo told police.

Petrillo, from Shirley on Long Island, said Stockle then asked him to push his car to a wooded area about a mile away.

Petrillo said he then connected the pipe to the exhaust of his Jeep and placed the other end inside Stockle’s Firebird.

Petrillo let his motor idle while Stockle sat in his car, Collins said.

″He said he then walked away, about 50 feet away, for about two hours,″ said Collins. ″When he returned he broke a window in the Firebird to make it look like he tried to rescue Stockle.″

He then went to another friend’s house and told him that Stockle had killed himself. Police were called; Petrillo at first said he accidentally found the body, but later confessed to assisting Petrillo in the suicide, officers said.

Petrillo, a swimming pool construction worker, had rescued Stockle on two previous suicide attempts, the dead man’s family told police.

New York state law specifically prohibits anyone from helping someone commit suicide or attempt suicide.

Petrillo has been arrested six times since 1980, including arrests for rape and burglary, Collins said. He was placed on three years probation for the burglary conviction; the disposition of the rape case was not immediately available.

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