By Amy Wadas


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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dale Cooper, 36, is behind bars at the Allegheny County Jail, charged with criminal homicide for the death of Heather Short, 46, who’d been missing since November.

“It’s a big relief. We always hoped for the best but we knew the worst,” Valerie Graham said.

Valerie Graham is trying to comprehend that her daughter is gone.

“I think that’s the worst thing is not being able to see her again. But I know where she is,” Graham said.

Short’s remains were found Wednesday morning in Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County, near the Allegheny County line.

(Photo Credit: City of McKeesport Police Department)

“We knew who was involved. It was just a matter of them finding her,” Graham said.

Police arrested Cooper in Homestead on Wednesday night. Police said Short had been staying at a home in West Mifflin with Cooper and a few other people.

“Drugs were involved and Heather had drug issues because of all the pain she had. It just got out of control for her over the years,” Graham said.

Witnesses told police Cooper beat and killed Short because he was worried she was going to expose him to a drug dealer. One witness said an extension cord was wrapped around her neck. Police said Cooper doused her body with bleach. Police said he wrapped her body in plastic and placed two straps around it, carried her out of the house and took her to Westmoreland County, where he dumped her body.

Short leaves behind three children between the ages of 12 and 23.

As for Graham, she’s now trying to figure out how to cope with the loss of her daughter.

“I think as a mother, as parents, we don’t have a choice you know. We just have to keep going day by day,” Graham said.

Cooper is also charged with tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse.