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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, September 26, 2014

Troubled Teen Admits to False Abduction Report at Nazareth Boro Park

DA John Morganelli
Mathew Cooper, an 18 year-old Nazareth High School sophomore, is the person who falsely reported that a 7 year-old girl had been abducted at Nazareth Borough Park on September 14. At a news conference, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced that Copper has been charged with false reports, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, and disorderly conduct, a summary offense with a 90-day maximum. He indicated these are the most serious charges that can be filed. Despite some mitigating circumstances indicating that Cooper himself is a troubled young man, Morganelli said criminal sanctions were appropriate because of the significant diversion of police resources to investigate what turned out to be a wild goose chase. This includes state police helicopters that were supposed to be assisting in the manhunt for a slain state trooper.

Morganelli's charges are by summons. There will be no arrest. No shackles. There will be no staged perp walk, something his office disdains.

The False Report

Mathew Cooper (Facebook profile)
As explained by Morganelli, this case started when Cooper approached Sean Hand, who was walking his dog near the park on Sunday evening, September 14. Cooper, claiming that he had just seen the abduction of a 7 year-old girl, asked Hand to dial 911. Hand did so, and Cooper borrowed the phone to claim that a male had dragged a 7 year-old girl with short blond hair, black shorts and a white shirt, into the woods. He tried chasing after them unsuccessfully.

Nazareth Police Officer Eric Schwab, who was patrolling in the vicinity of the park, was the first to respond. Eventually, a massive manhunt was undertaken as darkness fell. This included at least five police departments, along with the Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI. It also included volunteer firefighters from several local departments as well as the Nazareth road crew. Thermal imaging devices, night vision equipment and spotlights were used. Nazareth was in virtual lockdown for several hours.

In the meantime, there had been no report of a missing child.

Hand showed police his cell phone, in which it appeared that Cooper had made several calls after contacting 9-1-1, including calls to his birth father in Ohio.

Cooper Wanted to Draw Attention to Sister

The next day, police took Cooper out of school to return to the park and explain the abduction in more detail. Pennsylvania State Police asked him to submit to a polygraph, during which he admitted that he had made the whole thing up. He did so "to draw attention to his sister," Jacqueline Mae Cooper. A 13 month-old tot, she was pummeled to death on October 6, 2004. She suffered bruises, broken ribs, a broken ankle, a lacerated liver and a killing blow that snapped her neck. Her feet and cheeks had also recently been punctured 47 times with a tattoo needle.

Cooper's mother, Vanessa McGlumphy, pleaded to involuntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to prison for 10 years. She was aware of the abuse, but had done nothing to stop it.

"When push came to shove, she had to choose between her daughter and her boyfriend," an Akron prosecutor stated. "She chose her boyfriend and her daughter died."

She's due out of jail any day.

The boyfriend, Daniel Duffield, was sentenced to 28 years in prison, following a jury trial. .

There was some testimony that he may have even sacrificed the child in a bizarre religious ritual as a "black pagan."

News accounts from that period do not indicate whether Cooper, then 8 years old, was living in that household. But clearly, it had an impact on him.

According to Cooper's Facebook page, September 15 would have been her 11th birthday. On that day, at 2:16 am and shortly after his false report, he writes, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JACQUELINE MAE COOPER,YOUR ALWAYS IN MY HEART I HAVE NEVER FORGOT ABOUT YOU .AND I NEVER WILL .#FOREVER.ALWAYS"

Below is a Youtube video released in honor of Jacqueline Mae Cooper on what would have been her 7th birthday:

Morganelli acknowledged at the news conference that he was aware of these Internet reports, but stated he needed to confirm the details before deciding on a sentencing recommendation. He did state that the story about the Ohio murder is "not really relevant to my decision. It's not a good reason to call in an abduction."

Sticker Gang Cleared

Sticker Gang: Jeremy Peters, Trevor Gehret and Dan Logothetis
Before these charges were filed, there were a number of anonymous accusations implicating the Sticker Gang, yours truly and other Nazareth police officers.

For example, there's this comment, which has to come from a part-time Nazareth police officer who would like very much to be a full-time Nazareth police officer.
Why don't you pay attention to your own problems Bernie ???? You have many of them!!!! Trachta is a true professional and you can't stand that he won't just go away because that's what you and the loser sticker gang want! When this investigation is over concerning the abduction , I am sure you, the sticker gang, Lehovsky and dumb dumb will be implicated!!!! That's the word on the street ! There's a line and you crossed it!
Then there's this from the trolls:
Word on the street is that the perpetrators of this hoax will be faced with a 5 figure bill minimum. Looks like your little band of rebels will be paying interest on the case they dodged earlier this summer, maybe you can start a commune above Army Navy it would save money on heat in the winter all those young nubile bodies curled up together.

The investigation is under way................. Stay tuned!!! I am sure you'll have a front row seat!!!!!!! Better get your story straight!
Matthew Cooper's Facebook reveals he has no "friends" among the Sticker Gang.

Questions Raised

Though Morganelli had no choice but to bring charges, the question in my mind is why so many police resources were diverted to investigate a report from someone who is obviously an emotional mess. Though he has no record as an adult, sources report he is well-known to Nazareth police. The fact that he is 18 and is still a sophomore should have set off a few flares in Chief Thomas Trachta's head before he alerted half the police departments of the United States to investigate this bogus abduction. The fact that not one other person saw or heard the abduction should have triggered a few alarm bells as well. I won't condemn him on this one, however, as he erred on the side of caution. He over-reacted, but maybe that's a good thing.


Anonymous said...

Given what he has to deal with in Nazareth,the Chief erred on the side of caution . He is surrounded by troubled people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are probably an expert in that category.

Anonymous said...

If the3y run I hope the dude with the black shirt and pink tie wears his rodeo clown outfit. that is great.

Anonymous said...

Trachta/Nazareth PD really had no choice in the matter.

In a real abduction situation those first few minutes/hours are literally life and death moments and I'm happy that the threw everything they had at it, even though it turned out to be a wild goose chase.

Clearly the boy has issues and what happened to his sister is horrific, but it doesn't excuse or validate what he did. I hope he can get help, but there should be a price to pay for what he did.


Anonymous said...

Troubled teens grow into troubled adults. Hopefully he gets the help he needs before he becomes an adult.

Anonymous said...

At 18 he's old enough to vote and die in a war. He's not a kid. He's already a troubled adult. Shitty parents can do that. May God help him get help.

Anonymous said...

I find it odd that he's 18 and still in the 10th grade. Is he friends with the sticker gang?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I heard he's friends with you.

Anonymous said...

Nazareth seems to have a problem with messed up young men.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No wonder Mezzacappa came up for Martin on Main!