A man convicted of murder in Leelanau County in 1971 and of First Degree Sexual Assault in 1979 will be released from prison tomorrow. Wayne Frank Porter, 63, will be turned out with his maximum sentence served. He will not be on parole so the Michigan Department of Corrections will not have supervision of him nor does he have to advise them where will live. Porter will be released from Cooper Street Facility in Jackson on November 7th.
Porter's Offender Profile located on the Michigan Department of Corrections Offender Tracking Information System shows an Earliest Release Date of October 31, 2026. Click here for Wayne Frank Porter's OTIS information It also shows his Maximum Discharge Date of November 7, 2013. It is possible that Porter was given extra good time by Michigan Department of Corrections officials in order for him to be released early to avoid excessive medical costs the state is incurring as a result of his treatment for an undisclosed illness. He has reportedly loss nearly 100 lbs. as a result health issues.
Porter will be required by law to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life with the State of Michigan. It is believed that he will reside with a sister in Traverse City. His mother resides in a senior living facility in Traverse City. Porter has 3 days after his release from prison to register his new address with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. Click here for the Michigan Sex Offender Registry
Porter was 21 years old in December 1971 when he pleaded guilty to Second Degree Murder. The Suttons Bay High School graduate admitted to strangling Barbara Belfour, 43, who's body was found covered in snow behind her home on Valentine's Day 1971. Porter went to high school with Belfour's children and was home on leave from the Army at the time of the homicide.
Michigan State Police located Porter in Montreal, Quebec Canada and brought him back to the County several weeks after the murder. Porter was AWOL when located in Canada. He had served two tours in Vietnam and was seriously wounded by a grenade and land mine in combat.
Barbara Belfour was found buried in a snow bank on the ice on the frozen waters of Suttons Bay behind her home. Porter had attempted to chop a hole in the ice with an ax in order to hide the body but was unsuccessful. Police were called when Belfour did not show up for work the next morning. State Police determined that she was strangled with a rope and was found with her hands bound behind her back.
Wayne Porter was sentenced to 12 to 25 years in prison. It was Porter's first criminal conviction although he was charged with Felonious Assault by Traverse City Police Department in June 1968 but those charges were dismissed. He was released on parole on March 23, 1979 after serving 7 years 3 months and he returned to Suttons Bay.
On August 6, 1979, a 16 year-old runaway reported that she was hitch hiking on S Airport Road in Grand Traverse County. The child was in foster care and had snuck out of her foster home in an attempt to return to her mother in Reed City.
She later told her social worker that she was picked up, kidnapped and raped. The victim was interviewed by Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Detectives who determined that the assault occurred in Leelanau County. The victim was taken to Leelanau County by the detectives and showed investigators where the crime took place. Because of the physical description of the suspect, the vehicle used in the crime, the location of the assault and the case facts from the 1971 homicide, Leelanau County Sheriff's Detective Robert Russell suspected parolee Wayne Frank Porter.
Porter's mother had a yellow Volkswagon Beetle which was described by the victim as the vehicle that picked her up. His grandparents had property on the Lake Leelanau Narrows which contained an abandoned trailer that the victim identified as the place where the sexual assault occurred.
The victim said that she was picked up by a white male with black hair and a stocky build. The man was Wayne Porter. He drove towards Interlochen and then north on S Long Lake Road. He pulled off into a subdivision, saying he had to go to the bathroom. When he returned, he held a knife to her throat and told her that if she moved she was dead.
Porter tied her hands behind her back with a rope he had and made her sit on the floor of the car while he held the knife to her throat. The kidnapper tried to cram a towel down the victim's throat as he drove. He tried to choke her into unconsciousness several times while driving as well. The victim was not cut or stabbed with the knife.
After he drove to Leelanau County, Porter stopped the car and attempted to choke her out again and used both his thumbs, one in each eye, to attempt to push her eyeballs back into her head. The victim remained bound with her hands behind her back while still seated on the Volkswagon floor. The man continued to choke her into unconsciousness as he removed her clothing and sexually assaulted her. He told her that he was raped in prison, his girlfriend had just left him and he could not have regular sex as he assaulted the victim.
The suspect took her out of the car after the assault and took her to a creek that ran into the Lake Leelanau Narrows. Porter grabbed her by the hair and forced her head into the watermultiple times while telling her he was going to drown her. Thinking she was going to die, the victim decided to start talking about anything that came in her head. She said "Daddy, what are you doing to me"? Wayne Porter immediately stopped trying to drown her and said "Oh my God, what am I doing?" He then untied her and took her into an abandoned trailer that was on his grandparents' property. The Volkswagon that he kidnapped the victim with was stuck in sand so he could not drive away.
The victim said Porter laid newspapers, plastic and old life jackets on the floor and she slept on and off throughout the night. In the morning they were not able to get the vehicle unstuck. Porter asked her why she didn't scream so the neighboring house could hear her. She told him that there was no need because he would get his punishment when he died. He then for some reason showed her his driver's license and asked if he took her to a phone, would she want him to wait for the cops to come.
The victim said Porter then gave her the knife he had held to her throat earlier and told her if she was going to use it on him, to do it quickly. She gave him the knife back and began to talk to him about God and how her foster father was a preacher. He agreed to talk to her foster dad sometime.
Porter then took her to a boat that was tied on the Narrows and rowed her across to the village of Lake Leelanau. They walked to the grocery store and she used the payphone to call her case worker. Porter went into the store and bought her cigarettes and a pop.
As they sat on the curb in front of the store, Porter told the victim that her case worker would call the cops and they would know where to find him. He went back to the boat and the victim did not see him again.
The initial investigation by Leelanau County identified Wayne Porter as the suspect. They staked out his mother's home in Suttons Bay and located him there. He let investigators into the home but chose not to speak with them about the crime. He was arrested for Attempted Murder and First Degree Sexual Assault.
Porter pleaded guilty to the 1st Degree CSC in return for the Attempted Murder charge being dropped. He was sentenced on April 29, 1980 by 13th Circuit Court judge Charles Forster to 60-90 years in prison. The sentence was imposed prior to 1995 when truth in sentencing was enacted. The law in 1980 allowed for good time and credit for disciplinary credits. The law did not require prisoners to serve the mandatory minimum sentence as is now the case and has been since 1995. He served 33 years 5 months on the 60-90 year sentence imposed.
Porter was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluations after both Leelanau County arrests and was found competent to stand trial. Although no one but Wayne Porter knows for sure, he does not appear to be an immediate threat to society due to his deteriorating health and physical condition.
|Wayne Porter, 1979 Leelanau Co. SD photo|