Cops: Man charged in Dravosburg woman’s death feared she’d rat him out to drug dealer
A West Mifflin man charged with killing a Dravosburg woman allegedly feared she’d tip off a drug dealer that he had robbed of $700 and an ounce of crack, according to the criminal complaint filed against the man.
The skeletal remains of 46-year-old Heather Short were found Wednesday in a wooded area in Westmoreland County, according to police. A witness led police to her body.
Dale Cooper, 36, is charged with homicide, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.
Allegheny County police searched Cooper’s home Nov. 23 and found Short’s purse, license and bank card, according to the criminal complaint. Cooper allegedly told police he and Short smoked crack together Nov. 6 and into the morning of Nov. 7. When Cooper awoke, Short was gone but her car remained.
On Dec. 13, a witness told police Cooper had admitted he’d killed Short and that no one would find her body, according to the complaint.
Another witness reported to police being in the West Mifflin home when Cooper killed Short. That witness said Cooper demanded help disposing of her body, according to the complaint.
“Or you’re next,” the witness said Cooper allegedly threatened.
Cooper allegedly told the witness he had strangled Short with an extension cord because he worried Short would tell a drug dealer Cooper had robbed that he was the one who robbed him. Cooper said he thought the dealer would kill him, according to the complaint.
Cooper allegedly doused Short in bleach and wrapped her in plastic, the witness told police. The two drove her to a wooded area near White Oak, according to the complaint. Cooper allegedly took the plastic with him and left Short covered in leaves.
Led by the witness, investigators found Short on Wednesday. Police arrested Cooper in Homestead shortly before 9 p.m.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.