CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The neighbor of a Keystone Heights woman whose body was found hidden in her attic in 2017 was sentenced Friday to 55 years in prison after pleading guilty to raping and killing her.
Joe Arthur Turner, 31, pleaded guilty March 10 to second-degree murder, sexual battery and burglary with an assault or battery.
He had been set for trial next month in the high-profile murder of Jordan Cooper.
As part of Turner’s deal with prosecutors, the death penalty was taken off the table. Turner was instead sentenced to a total of 55 years in prison on the three charges and is not eligible for parole before his full sentence is served. Turner will also be labeled a sexual predator.
Cooper disappeared in November 2017. She was 25 years old, but her family said she had the mental capacity of a young teenager.
The following month, her body was found hidden in the attic insulation of her home in Keystone Heights. The medical examiner found she died from asphyxia and had been sexually assaulted.
The DNA from the rape kit matched Turner, prosecutors said, and his DNA was found on other evidence connecting him to Cooper’s murder. The State Attorney’s Office said Turner was arrested in December 2017 in a separate burglary, and in January 2018, Turner was charged in Cooper’s murder and was later indicted.
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Cooper’s parents, who know Turner’s family, shared victim impact statements and never-before-seen photos of Cooper during Friday’s sentencing hearing.
Her mother said her daughter was a very happy child and a very happy person.
“This man took the love of my life, my daughter. I know she wasn’t the brightest star in the world, but she was my brightest star,” said Jeffery Cooper, her father.
Cooper’s father at one point turned around and spoke directly to Turner, the man who killed his daughter.
“Joe, I don’t know what to say. I really don’t know what to say,” he said. “You came to my house. You ate dinner. You grew up with my son and Billy and all that. I never, ever, ever would figure this from you; ever, ever ever. But I just hope that one day something will change you. Something needs to happen. This never should have happened.”
Turner seemed remorseful in court, apologizing to Cooper’s family.
“There is nothing that I can say or do to bring Jordan back. I just wanted to apologize, sincerely apologize. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” Turner said. “From what I’ve heard, there is forgiveness in your hearts, and I am so thankful for that.”
Cooper’s family will honor her memory through a nonprofit organization that will give scholarships to the students at Keystone Heights High School, where Jordan was a graduate.
Cooper’s family released the following statement Friday, ahead of the hearing:
From the Family of Jordan Cooper:
Our hearts will forever be broken and missing the piece that is Jordan. Nothing will ever take her place, but her memory will always be with us.
Jordan was a true victim. She was in the place she felt most secure, her home, when she was brutally murdered and taken from us. A senseless tragedy. The guilty plea and sentencing of the perpetrator, after a four year process, brings closure to the legal process and finally attains some type of justice for Jordan. While the negotiated sentence may not be what the defendant deserved, it will allow those who loved Jordan the opportunity to move forward and hopefully find peace.
To truly honor Jordan, we would ask that you remember her in her brightest moments, and not as a victim. Jordan was passionate about all things Harry Potter, as well as, music, books and her dog Dozer. She was also a loving daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin and friend. Our happiest memories as a family, are of our times spent together with Jordan. There is not a day that goes by that we will not remember that she is not with us, or feel her loss.
While nothing will ever bring Jordan back, to honor her memory we have formed a non-profit organization that gives scholarships to the students at Keystone Heights High School where Jordan was a graduate. It is open to all seniors, and endeavors to assist students with pursuing their goals after high school, jordancooperscholarship.org. Jordan would love knowing that she is helping other graduates fulfill their dreams, whatever they may be. In this way, every scholarship recipient takes Jordan’s memory forward into their lives. In this way Jordan will live on, not only in our hearts, but in the hope that her memory brings to those students who receive scholarships.
Jordan, we love you and we miss you. We wish you were still here with us. We know you are in heaven and that we will see you again. Love always.