Hide the Screwdrivers…Kevin Cooper is Still Living it up on Death Row

25 Sep

In 2006 I wrote an essay in the Los Angeles Times Magazine that received an incredible amount of support.  It was  about my family living in terror after Kevin Cooper had escaped the local prison in Chino, CA  less than three miles from our home.  I wrote about how in under 72 hours he had bludgeoned a family in the hills.  He stabbed and struck the father’s head and chest so many times that one of the man’s fingers was later found inside the closet.  With a knife and hatchet he slaughtered the mother who had only made it so far as the foot of the bed.  Next he killed the young daughter and a young neighbor boy who was staying over at the house, both of whom must’ve heard the screams and came into the bedroom.  There was one survivor – another little boy.  He was the son of the slain family, who with a slashed neck, lay there in his parents’ bedroom for eleven hours plugging the wound with four fingers until help came.

It was one of the worst mass murders in San Bernardino County history.  Cooper had invaded the home and caused such carnage simply to steal the family car.  He was later arrested off Pelican Cove near Santa Barbara for rape.  He’d been working under an alias as a deckhand and was accused of sexually assaulting a woman on a nearby boat.  Initially the local police had no idea who they’d just caught.

Much has been said about this rape – how Cooper was never tried for the crime and therefore must be innocent? First off, Cooper had raped before.  Back in Pennsylvania he had been doing time for raping a woman with a screwdriver against her throat before he escaped from that particular institution and came out to California.  Secondly, the reason for not trying him for the new rape charge had nothing to do with his guilt or innocence.  It had to do with the overwhelming physical evidence left at the murder scene and inside that family’s car that would put Cooper away far longer than any rape conviction.  Cooper has lived the majority of his adult life on death row in San Quentin.  He gets hours of fresh air every day with his fellow inmates.  He gets to watch TV, listen to the radio and have access to the prison’s law library.  And yes, he still has his own website (you really should check out “Paula’s Plea”).

But in late 2009 Cooper finally suffered his own deafening blow.  The US Supreme Court refused to hear his case.  All of his appeals have officially been exhausted.  Recently a California judge ruled that lethal injections are not cruel and unusual punishment and can commence again.  Whether they will or not is anybody’s guess (we do like to keep our prisons overcrowded here).  Out of the hundreds and hundreds of condemned killers waiting their turn at the needle, I do know, however, who deserves to first feel the sting.


Leave a Reply


  1. Hollywood

    September 28, 2010 at 10:43 am

    This story coming up is timely considering the drug company that produces the chemical to induce the death penalty process cannot get an ingrediant to make the chemical. So now all the death row inmates in 35 states have a stay of execution. By the way, the drug company doesn’t like the drug being used for the death penalty but claim not being able to produce the drug is not a political statment. Hmmm.

    • I Love Lucy Fan

      November 4, 2010 at 9:27 am

      I didn’t know that about the drug company being so biased! That’s corrupt. This Kevin Cooper sounds horrifying and doesn’t deserve anybody’s sympathy.

  2. Duncan

    November 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    What a disturbing yet informative article on such a dangerous man. He deserves everything he gets.