This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Taah Cooper was born in 1980 living in paradise on the Hawaiian island of Honolulu. She spent the first eight years of her life living in Hawaii before her family packed up and moved to Sycamore, Ohio, a small town of fewer than 1,000 people.
Ten years later, Taah still lived in Sycamore. In fact, it would be her final resting place.
The day after Thanksgiving in 1998, Taah’s body was discovered in the weeds near the Sandusky River in Tiffin, 15 miles north of her hometown. She had been strangled to death.
Her murder remains unsolved to this day.
Growing up in the 1990s, Taah was fascinated by video games. She could often be found on the couch playing games with her cousin Ryan Sherer, who was only a year older.
“She liked video games and just hanging out with me,” Ryan said. “We were just close.”
Taah loved playing with “kid stuff,” but had some other hobbies that weren’t very child-like, like knitting. If she wasn’t playing video games with Ryan, she was probably busy knitting her newest project.
Ryan remembers her as being outgoing and funny.
“She was funny as hell,” he recalled.
As a teen, Taah had a rebellious streak and often got into trouble. At the time of her death, she was not attending high school and had moved around a lot.
“She was an ambitious, smart girl,” Ryan said. “She would just get into a lot of trouble.”
On November 25th, 1998, a retired Tiffin firefighter and his granddaughter went to the Sandusky River to feed ducks. There, they spotted Taah’s body covered by forest debris and a brown coat, just a few blocks from Columbian High School.
The following Friday, Seneca County Coroner Dr. Donald Shanabrook ruled that the cause of death was suffocation.
Police spent the ensuing days investigating the crime and following up on leads. On July 12th of 1998, Matthew Miller was charged with the death of Taah. A trial was held, but Miller was ultimately found not guilty.
“They focused on one person and then when that didn’t work out, they kind of just gave up,” Ryan stated.
After Taah’s death, Ryan remembers a lot of crying and grieving within the family.
“I miss her,” Ryan said as his voice trailed off.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Taah Cooper, please call the Tiffin Police Department at (419) 447-2323.
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