RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The family of a Richmond man who went missing more than two weeks ago are saying a body discovered in Henrico County is him.
On Thursday, Nov. 10, Henrico Police officers were called to a wooded area off Walnut Avenue after a person was found dead in a blue 1986 Chevrolet truck.
A missing person report on Nov. 1 described the same as belonging to 54-year-old Michael Cooper. Amanda Cooper said her family and friends had been searching for her husband for 16 days after he had not been seen since Oct. 25. According to Richmond Police, he was wearing a dark grey Nike sweatsuit with a hood, a white t-shirt and white Nike sneakers.
While neither Henrico Police — leading the death investigation — nor Richmond Police — leading the missing person case — has confirmed the identity of the victim, Cooper told 8News that her husband was the person found in the Chevrolet based on the clothing.
According to Cooper, her husband was found by his own daughter.
“She found him, and his body all ate up,” Cooper said.
Cooper said her daughter, Mikea Cooper, had been checking surveillance footage from businesses and homes in the area for weeks.
“She searched every day and every night, determined to find her father,” Cooper said. “If you find a truck, you find him.”
Mikea said she had spotted her father’s truck driving fast on several occasions on different surveillance cameras. Workers at Superior Auto Works, a nearby auto shop, shared surveillance video with 8News that showed a vehicle driving in front of the shop on Oct. 26 before turning down the path next to it.
Using a $1,300 drone, they had bought to help find their dad, Cooper said her children found the truck in a wooded area down a path with their father inside on Thursday afternoon. According to family members, the body was found ‘badly decomposed.’
“I mean, they could’ve just parked him on the side and let somebody find him so we could at least have a proper burial,” Cooper said.
She told 8News she believes someone killed her husband.
“We know he would never do nothing like that — not to be hidden,” she said. “I believe someone drove him there and left him to die or either he was dead from the beginning, and they took him there to dump him.”
Mikea said her father would never let his phone die. When she noticed it had been dead for a few days, she said she knew something was wrong and filed a missing person’s report the same week.
“It’s heartbreaking to watch my children keep crying and still no closure because now they want to know who did it and how did he get there?” Cooper said.
According to Henrico Police, investigators are working with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner who will formally identify the individual and determine a cause and manner of death. Cooper said her son’s DNA was tested to see if it matches the unidentified body.
Michael Cooper was a loving family man, according to his loved ones. One family member, Karen Jones, said he was a “nice guy” who always helped others.
Cooper said she will now have to bury him on the date of their anniversary.
The investigation remains ongoing, check back with 8News for updates.