Details of Disappearance
Cooper was last seen in Rochester, New York sometime between May and July of 1999. He left behind a three-year-old son, and his girlfriend was pregnant with their daughter. Most of his family lived on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, more than a two-hour drive away. His mother died of cancer in 2010, eleven years after his disappearance.
In March 2011, James Kendrick and Pablo Plaza were charged with murdering Cooper. The defendants, both of them Cooper's cousins, were two of eleven individuals charged with a variety of drug- and weapons-related offenses.
Kendrick, Plaza, and other individuals are also charged with murdering Francisco Santos, who disappeared from Rochester in 1998. His body was found in May 1999 on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. Authorities believe Kendrick had been the ringleader of a violent drug trafficking enterprise since 1993. A photo of him is posted with this case summary.
In May 2014, Plaza reached a plea deal with the prosecution; he admitted he'd been involved in the murders of Cooper and Santos, and pleaded guilty to Santos's murder. Plaza stated he's been present when two people beat Cooper to death. The motive for the killing was that Cooper, who was also a member of the drug gang, knew about Santos's murder and knew where the body was, and the other members of the gang thought he might go to the police.
In July 2016, Kendrick was convicted of a slew of charges, including the murders of Santos and Cooper.
Cooper's body has never been located; investigators believe it was dismembered, possibly in a wood chipper, and the parts were stuffed in garbage bags and dumped near the railroad tracks in Rochester. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.