MISSOURI (KFVS) -Sometimes the news is tough to report. Faces of crime victims can become etched in our memories. But hundreds of the worst stories we’ve shared with you over the years have one thing in common. They were all worked by the same investigator.
“I don’t think specifically I’ve done anything,” said Missouri State Highway Patrol Master Sergeant Bud Cooper.
I recently sat down with Cooper, who’s leaving the Patrol after nearly three decades.
“I think I’ve been very fortunate because southeast Missouri’s blessed with a lot of good policemen. Dedicated men and women that work tirelessly day and night to get to the successful conclusion of cases.”
Those officers will tell you Cooper is the best of the best.
“No. I’m not sure who said that,” he said when I tell him that. “That’s kind. I don’t feel that way. I think that my life has been touched by lots and lots of great policemen doing lots of great work. And it’s been a learning experience the whole time.”
The head of the Patrol, Colonel Eric Olsen, joined a host of other law enforcement heavyweights in recently honoring Cooper. Troop E Commander Captain Phil Gregory said they estimate Cooper has handled more than 500 homicides.
I documented Cooper’s years of work to solve the 1998 murders of Sherri and Megan Scherer.
“That’s one of those cases that never leaves you,” Cooper said of the Scherer case. “I mean, you can be working another case and you still think about that one.”
Cooper’s daughter Natalie McKnight recalled her dad’s dedication to that case and countless others.
“I looked at it as pretty dangerous. And he would be gone a lot. He’d be out working like two, three, four days at a time. With no sleep, you know. Yeah, we worried a lot.”
Not just about the work, his son Trey Cooper said, but about the impact of what their dad did week in and week out.
“It’s very taxing on one, his time. And over the decades I would assume it’s been pretty emotionally taxing. But it’s still a miracle to me that he’s able to be such a good dad with such a heavy load.”
Cooper’s workload is decreasing at a time when his family is growing. And many in law enforcement credit him with growing a real relationship between departments, creating a network of cooperation across the region.
“I think I’m just a piece of that puzzle,” Cooper explained. “Just a part of the gear that turns the big machine. I think there’s lots of valued members of that team that keep us going.”
Bud Cooper is back home in New Madrid and not getting out of law enforcement entirely.
Sheriff Terry Stevens has tapped Cooper to become his department’s Captain of Detectives. This next phase of Cooper’s law enforcement career begins on Monday.