A man accused of killing a woman in her rural home Aug. 16 has been charged with several felonies, including murder and rape.
Charles Michael Cooper, 26, is accused of killing his neighbor, 55-year-old Cindy Allen, in her residence near Byng, setting the home on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime and then fleeing out of state.
Cooper was charged Tuesday in Pontotoc County District Court with first-degree murder with deliberate intent, second-degree rape by instrumentation, first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree arson.
Allen was found dead at her residence in the 3000 block of County Road 3579. A neighbor who smelled smoke that morning investigated and saw that the windows at Allen’s home were blackened. The neighbor looked through the windows and saw someone lying on a bed in a bedroom, then called authorities.
When firefighters and deputies responded to the home, they found fire damage to the the residence, but the fires had burned themselves out. While searching the house, firefighters discovered Allen’s body in a back bedroom.
Investigators located several areas in the house where fires were started.
“(Oklahoma State Fire Marshal Investigator Trenton) Griffin observed there to be three, possibly four, separate source locations where the fire originated,” OSBI Agent Josh Dean said in a court affidavit. “One in the southeast living room, one in a crib located in a nursery in the north side of the house, one on the bed where Allen was located and possibly one utilizing a roll of paper towels in the kitchen.”
Investigators discovered two blue rubber gloves in the bedroom where Allen’s body was found, according to Dean.
“(Oklahoma State Medical Examiner Investigator Leroy) Johnson examined the body of Allen and there appeared to be trauma to Allen’s left eye, and a shirt wrapped around her mouth and throat,” Dean said.
Authorities believe there was a struggle before Allen was strangled. They also believe Cooper went back after setting the first fire and set several more. since the first fire burned itself out. Investigators said they discovered soot on clothing found at Cooper’s residence.
Cooper was subsequently arrested in Montana.