Arlington county police try to link Dumfries computer to triple slaying

Arlington County police searched a home at 3089 Azalea Sands Lane in Dumfries on Thursday and confiscated computer equipment they believe may contain evidence linking the residents son to a triple murder.

Police suspect that the computer hardware belonging to Ramona Cooper-Howard may contain correspondence from her son, Marine Corps Sgt. Zachary M. Cooper Sr., who police found in a bloody Arlington hotel room with three bodies, Arlington Detective Kevin Norwood wrote in an affidavit for the search warrant.

Cooper, 23, stationed in Fort Knox, Ky., is charged with the Jan. 20 murder of Arlington resident Marie Gault, 20, the Associated Press reported.

Coopers 22-year-old wife, Maya Lajuan Cooper, and his daughter Dessire L. Cooper, 5, both of Arlington, also were found dead in the room with Zachary Cooper after police responded to a 911 call reporting a disturbance, Norwood wrote.

Police found Gaults 19-month-old daughter unharmed in the room at the Travel Lodge on Columbia Pike, clinging to her mothers body while she cried, The Associated Press reported.

During his initial response to the disturbance at the hotel, an Arlington police corporal heard someone screaming and a gunshot as he approached the room, Norwood wrote in the affidavit.

When the corporal entered the hotel room, he noticed that Zachary Cooper stood, with bloody hands, near a knife and a rifle on the floor, according to Norwood.

During the murder investigation, detectives determined that Zachary Cooper and his wife had known Gault for some time and that he and Gault had been involved romantically before he and his wife married, Norwood wrote.

Investigators also discovered that Zachary Cooper and his wife often corresponded with Cooper-Howard via e-mail, information that led to the search-warrant filing. Police seized an IBM computer, miscellaneous papers, a notebook, notes and scrap papers and two floppy diskettes at Cooper-Howards residence, according to police records.

A telephone message left for Cooper-Howard on Thursday evening was not returned.

Police also searched Zachary Coopers residence in Kentucky and his workplace at Fort Knox.

Zachary Cooper appeared at a preliminary hearing Thursday in Arlington where General District Court Judge Thomas J. Kelley Jr. found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury, said the Associated Press.

Zachary Cooper, who his attorneys say will plead not guilty/self-defense, remains in jail in lieu of bond, according to the Associated Press.

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