Dawn Cooper
- 1975

On October 13, 2006 I watched a show called "Skeleton Stories" on The Discovery Health Channel. This particular show in this series was about a 25 year old mystery of a child who had died at the age of 3 1/2 years old, her name was Dawn Cooper.

From the show, I learned that Dawn went to live with her father, Ted Cooper and was at the mercy of her stepmother, I just didn't get her name. The stepmother had told people that when Dawn would have an accident, she would rub her face in it as punishment. Dawn was taken to the emergency room in 1975 with many bruises on her body. Her father stated she had fallen out of a tree. It was also stated that she had problems with her feet and it made her clumsy.

Dawn was in a coma when she was taken to the E.R. and pictures were taken of her bruises. Dawn's stepmother tried to explain the fall:

"There were statements made by the stepmother that said "We think her bones
were deformed and that's why she fell"
Jill DiCarlo - Deptuty District Attorney

Those ding the cold case files investigation read the reports and looks at the pictures, they were not convinced that Dawn had fallen:

"These injuries were in unusual places, bottom of the feet. Extremely
difficult to bruise. There's no doubt in my mind, this child was beaten.
The number, the sizes, the locations of the injuries that were apparent
in the photographs, left me with no other conclusion that this was a
homicide, not an accidental death"

The cause of Dawn's death was listed as swelling of the brain.
Madeline Hinkes was to do a thorough examination of the 25 year old skeleton of Dawn Cooper, looking for clues as to how she died. Her main concern was for Dawn's feet. If Madeline Hinkes prove that she had no problems with her feet, then Dawn's father and stepmother could be brought up on charges of child abuse.

Dawns body was taken from her above ground tomb and found to be in mummified condition due to a casket that had not been air tight when sealed and the air in the city she was buried in was warm, causing her remains to be in good condition.

A full, careful examination was done and bruises were still viewable on portions of Dawn's body:

"My job was to focus on the ankles and the feet to see if there were some
difference between the feet, if there was some sort of  pathology or
anomaly that might have contributed to her being more clumsy than the
average three year old. It was chilling to see the solid evidence of the bruises
that were there. I was looking for any disparity between the two feet and on
xray, I couldn't see any difference, but I needed to look at the actual bone.
So I don't see evidence to support the stepmother's claim that there was
something wrong with her feet and that's why she fell a lot and got bruised
all the time.
Forensic Anthropologist - Madeline Hinkes

When police went to arrest Dawn's stepmother, a woman answered the door and was hysterical. The woman was screaming "What have you done to my mother". Police found the stepmother dead on the floor of a self inflicted gunshot wound. There are no reports about if Ted Cooper was ever found or prosecuted.

I have searched the web many times for more details on this story. There doesn't seem to be any. If you have any information or can point me in the direction of any information, I would love to hear from you.

Death occurred in a state unknown to me

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