Charleston Chief of Detectives Steve Cooper
A Tennessee prison inmate, now charged with a 1999 murder in Charleston, is scheduled to be in Kanawha County Circuit Court to be formally arraigned on February 1st.
“I never forgot about this case,” said Charleston Police Chief of Detectives Steve Cooper. “It was a case that I was assigned from Day One and I traveled all over the country looking for suspects. We interviewed a few people.”
For more than 13 years, though, no arrests were made in the case of Terry Clark whose naked body was found along Route 119 in Roane County back in May 1999.
She had been strangled to death in her Charleston apartment on Memorial Day Weekend.
“We worked thousands of hours on that case. We didn’t have any suspects at the time and the manner in which she died was mysterious. It was very violent,” Det. Cooper said on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.
Last week, almost 14 years after the crime, a Kanawha County Grand Jury indicted Daniel Turner on a first degree murder charge for Clark’s death.
Turner is already serving time in a federal prison for separate gun and drug charges. As part of that sentence, he had to submit a DNA sample last year.
Detective Cooper says it was that DNA sample, which was entered into an FBI database, that linked Turner to Clark’s murder. Turner then allegedly confessed to the crime during police questioning, saying it was an attempted robbery that went too far.
Cooper says, over the course of the investigation, Turner was “never really on the radar” as one of the potential suspects. “DNA ruled out a couple of individuals that I was fairly suspicious of at the time,” he said.
Clark’s father has died in the time since her murder. Still, Cooper says he is glad her other family members may have some closure, if Turner is convicted.
“So many hours and so much effort went into this case and we felt a lot of sympathy for the victim, a lot of sympathy for the victim’s family and we just continued to work on it,” he said.
“When we were notified of this (DNA match), it was very exciting.”