Local News

New Details Emerge in Case Against Samuel James Cooper

Posted November 28, 2007
Updated November 29, 2007

— Samuel James Cooper's alleged crime spree appeared to have accelerated in the seven weeks leading up to his arrest last Wednesday, according to court documents and new information obtained by WRAL News.

The 30-year-old convicted felon was arrested a week ago at a Domino's Pizza distribution center in Garner after he allegedly robbed a nearby Bank of America.

That arrest started a chain of events that investigators say links Cooper to deaths in five unsolved murders dating to May 2006 and a string of other violent crimes, including armed robbery and home invasion. (See a list of crimes with that Cooper has been charged, so far.)

Wednesday, a day after he was charged with murder, Rockingham County authorities charged Cooper with two counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with a Nov. 4 home invasion in Reidsville. Investigators say he shot two people in the head.

"Both are considered very lucky to be alive," Capt. Perry Brookshire with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office said. "I think he has actually said that he thought he had killed both of them. And he's made a comment that he normally does kill the individuals."

Cooper is also a person of interest in another Rockingham County home invasion from early October, when two more people were shot.

Additionally, sources tell WRAL that investigators are linking him to more than a dozen armed robberies in the Raleigh area.

On Tuesday evening, Raleigh police charged a woman somehow connected with Cooper in two robberies last month.

Regina Nicole Swan, 20, of 2817 Wade Avenue, is charged with two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and is accused of stealing $3,385 from a Raleigh Food Lion and $955 from a Bojangles', according to arrest warrants.

Cooper had not been charged in those robberies as of Wednesday evening, but a notation on a court document reads: "These robberies at issue were done with Samuel Cooper."

Swan was in the Wake County Jail under a $250,000 bond Wednesday. Cooper was in the Wake County Jail without bond for the murder charges and was under a $1 million bond for the Rockingham County case.

It is unclear how Swan and Cooper are connected, but sources tell WRAL that Swan might be a former or current girlfriend of Cooper. They also say she dances at a strip club on Capital Boulevard called Foxy Lady – a place Cooper apparently frequented.

The club's owner would not talk with WRAL Wednesday about the case or confirm whether Swan works there, but he did meet there with Raleigh police detectives. When asked by WRAL if they were there to talk about the case, investigators directed questions to the police department.

Neither Raleigh police nor the Wake County Sheriff's Office has talked about the case since they announced the charges against Cooper on Tuesday, and they said they don't expect to do so because of the "complexity" and ongoing investigation of each homicide.

Nor have they explained how they linked Cooper to the cases or what led them to charge him in the slayings of Ossama "Sam" Haj-Hussein, 43, LeRoy Jernigan, 41, Timothy David Barnwell, 34, Ricky High, 48, and Tariq Hussain, 52.

WRAL has learned from unnamed sources, however, that Cooper confessed to the crimes while in custody and that forensic tests on a gun seized by police tie him to all five cases. The arrest of Cooper's father on a felony weapons charge was a factor in Cooper's confession, sources say.

Prosecutors later dropped the charge against the elder Cooper.

"There are a lot of tools in the crime-fighting arsenal," local attorney and former prosecutor Karl Knudsen said.

State Bureau of Investigation agents would not talk about the Cooper case, but said spent bullets and shell casings can hold clues that can be as powerful as fingerprints at a crime scene.

"(Detectives) don't have any witnesses, or they have witnesses who are giving conflicting accounts of what took place – so, when a weapon's recovered, it may be the only thing to tie an individual back to that scene," said SBI special agent Peter Ware, who oversees the SBI's firearms unit. (Watch more about how the SBI helps solve crimes.)

Ware said the firing pin markings on a shell casing and the microscopic grooves formed when a bullet travels through a gun barrel can tell agents what kind of weapon was fired.

As for Cooper's apparent confession, once the court appoints a public defender in a case, police are barred from pressing a suspect for more information, Knudsen said. It doesn't stop the accused from talking, however.

"As long as it's clear that that person has initiated the contact with the law enforcement, there's not a problem," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Gandalf The White Nov 30, 2007

    Now we can just wait for some civic minded organization to come forward and claim he is just a victim of society and it is the fault of every law abiding citizen for the crimes he committed. It is obvious this poor man is being railroaded and I am sure when everything is said and done, the marches have taken place, the speeches have been made, he will be exonerated and walking once again as a free man. I am sure some ancestor of his was in someway harmed so why not continue our path of exoneration and just let him go because everyone knows 2 wrongs make a right and by doing that we will wash away our history and all be better for it. Why we could even sing “We are the world” one more time!

  • UpwardlyMobile Nov 30, 2007

    He's a mess and this whole situation is a mess. We are in a quandary with our prison system. I don't think it has anything to do with liberalism or anything else. There are just some deep problems in our system that have been going on for years and years. I think that when you are a repeat offender and you've done the things this guy has done (ie. escaped off the prison van!), you shouldn't get any breaks with sentencing. He should never have been released early.

  • Sessy - Italiana Nov 30, 2007

    OMG! I am in shock. FINALLY they got Leroys killer. May his family and the other victims families have some kind of closure.

    This man is a worthless ...... (cant say it on here) YOU will get your day in prison!!!!!!!!

  • doogaad Nov 29, 2007

    Posters like NC Resident who say " can't blame this guy...it's the world we live in now" are as much to blame as the crimnals.

  • nc resident Nov 29, 2007

    it seems that this guy got a head start on what's about to happen....at least he didn't get tazered in the process..and there will be more like him to take his place...life is not as simple as it used to be and people take the short way out in a heartbeat. can't blame this guy...it's the world we live in now

  • ifcdirector Nov 29, 2007

    And on the night they execute him the candle waving liberals will be out in force for this animal while the same showboaters are nowhere to be found at the moment when it comes to comforting the families of the victims, nor will they be doing so the night he is executed nor ever. But right now they are busy infesting as much state government asnd judgeships and administrative positions as they can pry their liberal guilt ridden selves into. Leftist thought killed these people in the guise of a habitual felon let loose by liberal democrat judges. Until the people have had enough of this business and vote these people out of office we will continue to have a moratorium on the death penalty and more violent offenders will be set free to serve the liberal's sentence out on society at large. They could care less about these victims nor the children that die from abortion or anyone else except like minded killers like this one.

  • DragonladY Nov 29, 2007

    LeRoy's brother John, my dad, and a few other men helped put John and LeRoy's whole church ministry together. My family knew the Jernigans very well and LeRoy and John were uncles to me. I literally grew up around them, seeing them a majority of every week. I haven't spent time with them in a long time and I regret not pushing my parents enough to go more often since we've moved. I was at my best friends house when I saw the news story on LeRoy's murder in June last year and it really tore me apart knowing that someone obviosly so selfish could do that to someone as nice, caring, and loving as LeRoy and all the other victims. I send my love to the Jernigan family and all others affected by the pointless slayings of these people. -lc

  • dcatz Nov 29, 2007

    Another shining example of how liberalism murders people each and every day. You can't change the nature of the animal and serial killers and career criminals will never change nor can they be "rehabilitated". And now many people are dead as a result of the failure of the state of North Carolina to protect the public from criminals.

    Those that are responsible for this man being on the street should be charged with second degree murder by depraved indifference.

  • swisher1 Nov 29, 2007

    I can't imagine anyone actually WANTING to live life like this. I imagine his childhood was rotten and he got a raw deal in life, but that is NO excuse for doing anything to take another's life. He's clearly derranged and hopefully he can find a peaceful way out of this life.

  • treki70 Nov 29, 2007

    Im new to this online comments But TRUE STORY
    Leroy was a usher at my wedding.Him his whole family was a part of the wedding And like my wife says "Leroy would had gave the shirt of his back/give this guy money" But no we lost a dear friend of ours.Im Glad they got this Guy, as for the other two suspects they were only seen arould the place of the crime.If they did have anypart Im hopeful they will be cought to.Cooper can confess if he wants.Now theres a trail phase.And we will see how the outcome is -My prayers to all other familys,the man who followed Cooper and called 911 Its people like that is what makes this a great nation.Stand up take that stand protect your self and others be not afraid to call 911 for anything no matter how little.Im only human and I want this guy to be put to death(im not for it) but there comes a time were the ultimate justice must be served.
    God Bless