Cape Town - Police have made the dramatic decision to charge Michael Cooper with his mother Stella’s murder, despite her body not being found.
The Daily Voice exclusively revealed last month that Cooper allegedly confessed to strangling his mother, stuffing her body in his bedroom cupboard and then dumping her in a wheelie-bin.
Stella Cooper. Picture: Mlondolozi Mbol. Credit: INLSA
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk confirmed that Michael appeared briefly in the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court earlier this month on a murder charge.
The murder charge has been added to his charge sheet when he appears in court on January 17, 2013.
Cooper was already at Pollsmoor Prison, charged with theft, when he allegedly confessed to his uncle Stanley Adams that he killed Stella.
The 63-year-old disappeared on October 13. Michael had allegedly told family that his mother had gone away for the weekend.
Cooper also intially told police his mother, 62, had left with friends in a blue VW Golf.
Stella’s eldest son, Emmanuel, and his girlfriend, Mymoena Stremmers, also share the family home.
Cooper reportedly told his brother to wait until Wednesday before reporting Stella missing.
On Wednesday, October 17, Grassy Park cops opened a missing persons docket. Soon after that the Michael was again arrested for theft, but he lied to police and gave them a false name.
Cooper’s uncle told the Daily Voice that while he was in jail his nephew had confessed in writing to strangling Stella.
The uncle said that Cooper claimed he stuffed his mother’s body in the bedroom cupboard before dumping her in a wheelie bin.
“Michael locked his bedroom door and for days no one was allowed anywhere near his room,” Mymoena told Daily Voice at the time.
Cops scoured the Grassy Park home and found traces of blood in the cupboard and wheelie bin.
Stella’s body has still not been found.
In a desperate search to find his sister’s remains, Stanley Adams was seen digging in the backyard on Saturday.
Neighbours say Stella’s brothers Stanley and Sam showed up with spades and dug up most of the ground around the house.
Forensic teams have scoured the house, taken Michael’s bedroom cupboard apart and have removed the wheelie bin for analysis.
Stella’s neighbour and close friend Charmaine Heuvel says she has little hope of ever attending her funeral service.
Charmaine was the last person to see Stella that Saturday afternoon when she disappeared.
“Stella was here and she was looking well. [Earlier] that week she was in great pain and had been rushed to hospital because of her gout,” she says.
The much-loved Grassy Park mother’s legs were bandaged and she was using a walking stick the day she disappeared.
Charmaine tells the Daily Voice: “When Michael came out of Pollsmoor, Stella became very stressed.”
Cooper was released on parole but was still under house arrest.
Charmaine says Stella told her that he was angry because she had sold part of the family property that belonged to him.
When Stella’s husband James Cooper passed away nine years ago, his will stated his two sons Michael and Emmanuel share ownership of the extensive property.
“Stella had sold Michael’s piece of the land to her sister and this upset him. It was the cause of a lot of arguments,” she says.
“Even when Stella was very sick and in bed for days, Michael would shout at his mother that she’s lazy.”
Stella’s friends say there are many unanswered questions about her disappearance.
*This article was published in the Daily Voice