COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The lead detective in a missing transgender Columbus woman’s case shared an update Wednesday as the Federal Bureau of Investigation got involved to help find her.
The 3 p.m. press conference at Columbus Division of Police Headquarters comes shortly after the one-year anniversary of Devin “Sacoya” Cooper’s disappearance, according to Detective Chuck Radich. Cooper’s family and friends were in attendance as well as a member of Central Ohio Crime Stoppers. Radich gave a recap of what police knew about Cooper’s disappearance, and why the FBI is stepping in.
“We believe that there are witnesses in the community that could help bring closure for the family, and hopefully, this partnership will be there to push and achieve information necessary for locating Ms. Cooper,” Radich said. “BCI is also assisting us, looking into information regarding the case.”
Cooper, a transgender woman whose legal name is Devin, went by Sacoya.
Central Ohio Crime Stoppers announced Tuesday it would be offering a $10,000 reward together with the FBI for information to find Cooper. The 33-year-old transgender woman was last seen leaving her home in north Columbus on Aug. 31, 2021, in a black Ford Fusion.
“She told her partner that she was headed to a convenience store on Weber,” Radich said.
Weeks after Coopers’ disappearance, police found her car on the west side of Columbus. While they were able to gather some evidence from it, CPD did not say what they found beyond that the car did not have Cooper’s original license plate on it.
Saying she was endangered the month after she disappeared, CPD detectives thought foul play was involved in why she never came home. When asked about this at the press conference, Radich — who said he believes there’s someone out there who has information about Sacoya’s whereabouts — could not go into further detail, citing the active investigation.
Cooper’s friend of almost 20 years, Bre Belcher, took the podium to talk about the woman she called a sister. She asked people to check their Ring cameras if they still have footage from August or September last year, to see if they caught anything suspicious,
“It’s been a year. It’s gonna have to be a miracle to even believe that she’s still amongst us today,” Belcher said. “If you know something and you have not said something … you’re opening that door up for an opportunity for it to happen to someone else.”
LGBTQ+ community center Stonewall Columbus has displayed a missing poster for Cooper since her disappearance, according to executive director Densil Porteous. He encouraged both the queer and Columbus communities to keep Cooper’s case at the forefront of their minds.
“If we don’t speak about things, people often will forget, and Sacoya isn’t someone we should be forgetting,” Porteous said. “It’s a community member who has disappeared, who has vanished ultimately without a trace. So, if we stop talking about this person no one will ultimately do that.”
The missing woman’s birth mother came to the podium, but could only get a few sentences out before she walked away crying. Her adoptive mom, Ada Luann Cooper, asked for the public’s help while praising those who have contributed to her daughter’s case.
“[She] used to call me every day,” Ada Luann Cooper said. “I don’t care who you are, could you please call the police department or call Crime Stoppers to let us know something about what happened to them.”
Friends and family say they need closure.
“Can you please say something — can you please reach out,” pleaded Belcher. “Because this is somebody’s child this is a human and no one deserves to go through this.”
Central Ohio Crime Stoppers can be contacted at 614-461-8477 or through the P3 tips mobile app. Tips can be submitted anonymously.