Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Asheville, NC: Asheville-area case likely murder-suicide

ASHEVILLE — A husband and wife found dead in their home on Thanksgiving night had argued frequently in the weeks leading up to their deaths, neighbors say.
The bodies of Michael David Cooper, 39, and Lisa Reanna Cooper, 35, a well-regarded nurse at the Charles George VA Medical Center, were discovered shortly before 11:30 p.m. Thursday at their home at 12 Melissa Court.
Buncombe sheriff’s Lt. Randy Sorrells said the evidence points to a murder-suicide, but authorities were withholding final judgment until autopsy results are returned.
Both victims appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound, Sorrells said, and officers recovered a handgun at the scene.
Autopsies are planned for today or possibly Wednesday, Sorrells said. He said he could not say who fired the fatal shots.
Melissa Court, off Mount Carmel Road northwest of Asheville, is a quiet cul-de-sac where neighbors expressed shock at the deaths.
“It’s absolutely insane,” said Linda Sluggett, who lives two houses down. “This is a real family-oriented community.”
The Coopers had recently moved to the neighborhood from Bakersville. Sluggett said her next-door neighbor, who lives beside the Coopers’ home, had told her of frequent arguments between the two — loud enough that the neighbor could hear them from inside her house.
“She said she could hear them every night, sometime between 2 and 4 a.m.,” Sluggett said.
Sorrells said Buncombe had no official reports of domestic violence involving the two. Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street, who knows Lisa Cooper’s family, also said he knew of no history of violence between the couple.
Nancy Sparks, of Burnsville, Lisa Cooper’s close friend, said the pair had been married about 10 years and had no children together, though Michael Cooper had three children from a previous marriage. He had worked as a truck driver, but sheriff’s investigators said he was unemployed at the time of his death.
Sparks, who spoke with Lisa Cooper last week, said she knew of no trouble between the couple.
“She never mentioned anything to me about having any kind of problems with him,” she said. “He was very loving and doted on her. It’s just hard to believe.”
Sparks, who’s also a nurse, had known Lisa about a dozen years and had worked with her at the VA Medical Center.
“She was kindhearted and bubbly, just a goodhearted person,” Sparks said. “She was very caring. She loved taking care of people. That was her calling.”
VA Medical Center officials were making counselors available to help staff, volunteers and patients cope with Cooper’s loss.
“Charles George VA Medical Center staff members were deeply saddened to learn of Lisa Cooper’s death,” said David Pattillo, the hospital’s associate director. “She was a dedicated professional who will be sorely missed by the Charles George family and by the countless veterans for whom she provided care.”
Family members are making separate funeral arrangements for Michael Cooper, a Burnsville native, and Lisa Cooper, who’s originally from Bakersville.
Michael Cooper’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Holcombe Brothers Funeral Home in Burnsville.
Arrangements for Lisa Cooper were incomplete at Henline-Hughes Funeral Home in Bakersville.
Family members declined to comment.

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