Oakey “Al” Kite was a 53 year-old-man who lived in Aurora, Colorado. He was described by family and friends as being an all-around nice guy, very compassionate and trusting. He enjoyed spending time outdoors.
Al lived in a condo that had a basement unit complete with a bedroom, bathroom and family room that he liked to rent out for extra money. The basement unit had just one small window in the bedroom and no exit doors. The only way in and out of the house was through the front door.
His previous renters had just moved out, so Al was looking for a new occupant to come in. To advertise his basement unit, Al posted advertisements around the library of the University of Colorado Medical School, thinking a student would be interested in renting out the unit.
A few weeks after putting up the advertisements, a man by the name of Robert Cooper got in touch with Al about renting out the unit. Robert told Al that he was from the East Coast and that he worked for Wells Fargo, a financial company. Al and Robert agreed to meet so that Al could show him around the unit.
Whilst Al was showing Robert around the basement, Al’s girlfriend at the time, Linda, popped by the house. Al wanted Linda to meet Robert, but whilst Linda was in the bathroom, Robert said he had to go somewhere and left the house. Linda only caught the back of Robert but said that he was well dressed and walked with a limp. Linda said she didn’t get a very good feeling from the man and was relieved when Al told her that Robert didn’t want to rent out the unit.
However, a few days pass, and Robert contacts Al again and tells him that he does want to rent the unit. Robert sends Al the deposit on the 18th of May, 2004, and Al gives Robert keys to the house.
On the 22nd of May, 2004, Al dropped Linda off at the airport, as she was going on a trip for a few days. At 3:30pm, Linda called Al to let him know that she had arrived at her destination. Linda said that Al was being short with her, and was not acting like his usual self.
On May 24th, 2004, Al’s employer became concerned that Al didn’t turn up for work that day. It was very unlike him not to show up to work without getting in touch. Al’s employer then contacted his sister, who lived in a different state. Al’s sister had not heard from him either, so she contacted the police to do a welfare check.
What the police found when they entered Al’s apartment was truly horrific.
Al’s body was found tied up, faced down and dead in the basement bedroom. His hands had been tied to his ankles, and he had sustained extensive injuries on his feet which were later found to be caused by Falaka – a corporal punishment that involves beating the soles of someone’s feet. It is thought that a honing rod found in the sink was used for this.
The way Al was tied was also unusual and in 2019, Oxygen Channel featured Al’s case and Lindsey Philpott, a bindings expert, said that the way Al was bound (around the upper arms, above the elbows, and twice above the knee) is connected to the Turkish Hezbollah, a radical and violent Kurdish Islamic group that was organised in the 1980s with the sole intention of securing a separate Islamic state in Turkey.
The killer had also inserted kitchen knives above Al’s eyeballs and into his ears and shoulders. Al was then stabbed 22 times in the head and face area, the stabbings were so severe that they nearly decapitated Al’s head from his body.
The autopsy revealed that Al had died on Saturday, 22nd March, the same day Linda had spoken to him.
The killer was smart and cleaned up after himself. All of the kitchen knives, a honing rod, house key, pen, drinking glass and Al’s car keys in the kitchen sink, soaking in bleach in order to destroy any DNA. The killer had also taken a shower but poured bleach down the drains again to destroy any DNA evidence. He even took trash with him.
But, whoever the killer was, forgot to clean up two spaces. There was a bloodstain on the basement stairs that didn’t belong to Al, and there was a rental agreement that was found crumpled up in the trash can. These were the only bits of evidence detectives had to work with.
The prime suspect in the case was Robert Cooper, the man to who Al had rented the basement unit to just four days before his death. When detectives started looking for him, they realised that all the information he had given to Al had been fake. His name, social security number, references and even his current address all belonged to different people. The mobile phone he was using was found to be a prepaid phone that had been brought at a 7-11 at some point in March 2004.
One woman came forward and said that Robert Cooper came round to her house to have a look at her rental property. She said that the man gave her the creeps and that he was only interested in looking at the windows and the doors. The woman worked at a local college and taught Romanian, and she said that the man had a slight Romanian accent.
ATM surveillance at a nearby Wells Fargo ATM shows the killer driving Al’s truck and withdrawing $1000 the day after Al was killed. He was wearing a ski mask to cover his face.
Police believe that the man killed Al, stayed the night at the condo, and then used Al’s truck to drive to the ATM to withdraw the money. He then parked the truck a block and a half away from Al’s condo, threw the truck keys into a sink full of bleach, and then left.
Detectives think that a reason Al was killed was because he lived by himself, and didn’t have any close friends or family who would have interrupted the murder. Another reason was the location and privacy of Al’s condo. Police believe that the man who murdered Al had definitely killed before and that he is likely a meticulous psychopathic killer whose only aim was to kill.
Police were able to come up with a composite sketch of the man and in 2017 Aurora police used a Virginia lab to develop a more accurate image of the man using the DNA that the killer left behind in the bloodstains. It is thought that the killer was a male, between the ages of 40-50 years old at the time of the murder. The killer also has a southeastern European background.
The DNA sample has also been added to the FBI’s National DNA Index System, but as of 2022, there have been no matches. The Aurora police and FBI are conducting genealogy testing and are piecing together the killer’s family tree, so it is looking positive that Al’s killer will one day be identified and brought to justice.
If you, or someone you know, has any information regarding Robert Cooper or Al’s murder, please contact Detective Thomas Sobieski at the Aurora Police Department on 303-739-6710.
Unsolved, Murder, Homicide, Investigation, DNA, FBI, True Crime