KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. – A man's arrest in the burglary of tools from Jordan Cooper's Keystone Heights home led to evidence and an arrest in Cooper's murder, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
The 25-year-old Clay County woman's body was discovered "heavily concealed" in the attic of her home more a month after she was reported missing by her mother.
Saturday morning, Joe Arthur Turner faced a Clay County judge on charges of murder, sexual battery and burglary. Turner told the judge he had hired an attorney, but had not had time to get in touch with him before the first-appearance hearing.
On Nov. 1, deputies began investigating a burglary at Cooper's home. Records of area shops where the stolen tools were pawned led them to serve an arrest warrant on Joe Arthur Turner's home, down the street from where Cooper lived, on Dec. 29. Turner was found hiding in the attic of his home.
Also in the attic of Turner's home, deputies found a bag of women's clothing, some of which matched clothing missing from Cooper's home. At that point, detectives returned to search Cooper's attic. Her body was found that evening, hidden under layers of insulation.
"It's not unusual for a suspect to take something from the scene and to keep it for whatever reason -- so many different psychological reasons," said News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith.
After DNA from a bandage found in Cooper's attic was matched to Turner, he was also charged with murder, burglary and sexual battery.
Deputies said the two knew each other.
"It's not unusual in sexual assault cases for the suspect to commit crimes in their area. In fact, it happens more often. They usually commit sexual assault in areas where they feel comfortable in, that they are familiar with," Smith said.
Court documents show Cooper died of asphyxiation. Detectives said she was killed sometime between 3 p.m. Nov. 25 and 8 p.m. Nov. 26. She was reported missing on Nov. 28.
"I don’t want to get into specifics because of any future statements that may come out," Clay County Sheriff's Office Chief of Investigations Wayne McKinney said.
In announcing details of the case, McKinney called this a bittersweet day not only for the Cooper family, but for Clay County deputies, firefighters and dozens of volunteers from other agencies and private citizens who spent weeks searching for Cooper.
"Jordan Cooper was an innocent soul who touched every one of the men and women behind me," McKinney said, adding that most had worked tirelessly in the search for the missing woman.
Koda Marsh was friends with Cooper. She doesn't know Turner and can’t understand why anyone would kill Cooper, who deputies said had the mental capacity of a teenager.
"My sister was the same way. You go with it. You can’t do anything about it, but I feel she shouldn't have stayed by herself. I wouldn't have left my child alone if she had the mental capacity of a 13-year-old," Marsh said.
The Keystone Heights community is now hoping for the best for Cooper’s family, and that the arrest will bring them some kind of peace.
"Let them know that we're still praying for them, and just pray that they make it through this the best as possible," resident Jimmy Martin said.
Resident Barbie Martin said she has also been praying for Cooper’s family.
"It was a huge shock. You just don't hear things like that in our community. It's a small town, close-knit, everybody knows everyone. And if you don't know them, you know somebody that does," Martin said. "So to hear something like that, it was shocking."
Turner, 27, is being held without bond in the Clay County Jail. He will face a judge Saturday morning for his first appearance hearing.