Reunited sisters search for mother's killer

SPECIAL REPORT: Reunited sisters search for mother's killer
Shannon with her grandmother and twin sisters (Source: NBC12)
Shannon with her grandmother and twin sisters (Source: NBC12)
Shannon's twin sisters (Source: NBC12)
Shannon's twin sisters (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Shannon Cooper has a heavy heart. She sent me a Facebook message, telling me about her mother, who'd been murdered in an alley in south Richmond 18 years ago this month. In fact, I actually covered the story back then. Channel 12 was there on the scene, the day Penni Cooper's body was discovered.

As Shannon grew older, she became curious about her birth mother, but the grandmother who raised her, wouldn't tell her much about her mom.  "My nanny wouldn't allow her to see me because she was on drugs," Shannon says.

Shannon dug for answers and came across a picture of two babies. It seems her mother had given birth to twins at Chippenham hospital in 1994, just four years before her death. Shannon was shocked to learn she had twin sisters, girls she now desperately wanted to meet. That's when she contacted me and I posted her plight on Facebook. Our viewers did the rest.

Shannon was amazed at how quickly we had answers. "You posted the story and not even 24 hours, we found them," she says.

A reunion soon followed. We didn't videotape their reunion because they wanted to keep that private. But now, all three sisters are left with the question, what happened to their biological mom?

Detective David Burt was also on that crime scene 18 years ago. At the time, police had information, leading them to believe Penni Cooper had been murdered in an apartment off Hull Street, and then later, dumped in the alley. There was even a person of interest back then, but never enough evidence to prosecute. But now, new DNA tests that weren't available in 1998, are in play. In fact, forensic test results could be back in the next few weeks.

As for that person of interest?  Detective Burt has kept close tabs on his whereabouts, all this time.

According to Detective Burt, "he's incarcerated now for unrelated things.  But hopefully, he will remain there until we can say that either he did it or eliminate him from our list of persons."

For Shannon, closure can't come soon enough. Even though she has no real memories of her mom, other than pictures, she still feels like
she's been robbed.

"I do, I do want to find who did this, " Shannon says. "They took a mother I never had, that I never had nor my brother and sisters. It's hard."

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