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Rhode Island Man Arrested For Murder After Girlfriend Found In Refrigerator

Nathan Cooper struggled this week to compose himself in a courtroom, where he stands accused of murdering his girlfriend, Sherbert "Strawberry" Maddox. 

By Jax Miller
Nathan Cooper Arrested For Murdering Girlfriend Found In Refrigerator

A man is under arrest after police discovered his girlfriend’s body in the kitchen refrigerator of their Rhode Island apartment.

Nathan Cooper, 53, was charged with murder and other firearm-related felonies in connection to the death of his girlfriend, according to the Boston Globe. Authorities in Providence, Rhode Island, said investigators discovered the body of Sherbert “Strawberry” Maddox, 40, at his Parkis Avenue residence on Tuesday morning, where they believe her remains had been kept for several days after her death.

“They found a bundled-up bag,” Providence Police Detective David Lapatin told Oxygen.com. “They didn’t know what was inside the refrigerator. Information previous to that told us there was possibly a body in there.”

Sherbert Maddox was shot before being wrapped in blankets and plastic and placed in the refrigerator, according to the Globe.

Lapatin told Oxygen.com that a concerned relative alerted authorities about the body.

“It was a tip from the deceased’s relative,” confirmed Lapatin. “And he had information that she was killed and was in that apartment.”

Investigators arrived at the Elmwood neighborhood home at around 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to The Providence Journal. Police said Cooper was at the residence, where they collected a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun as evidence which is believed to be the murder weapon. A rifle was also removed from the home.

Cooper was arrested and charged with domestic violence murder in the first degree, possession of a stolen firearm, and carrying a firearm without a permit, according to court records.

Family members said that Maddox did not live in the home where her body was found, according to the Journal. However, Detective Lapatin told Oxygen.com, “they lived there together.”

Police said they believed Maddox was murdered as early as Sunday afternoon and that Cooper had “violent tendencies," according to the Journal.

Lapatin told Oxygen.com there had been no reports to police of domestic violence between the couple.

“He had a history,” said Lapatin. “None of the detectives I’d spoken to knew him; it didn’t look like there were any domestic calls to that house, but some people are familiar with the name.”

Documents reviewed by Oxygen.com show Cooper has a long list of criminal charges dating back to 1989, including a number of assaults, drug charges, violations of no-contact orders and domestic violence charges (including domestic strangulation) related to a previous partner.

Cooper appeared for his arraignment on Wednesday, but proceedings stalled when the defendant cried and struggled to control his emotions in the courtroom. At one point, Cooper couldn't compose himself enough to identify himself by name, as seen in video coverage from the Boston Globe.

Maddox’s sister screamed profanities at the defendant in the courthouse, accusing Cooper of putting Maddox in a freezer, as published by the Boston outlet.

“What did you not like about her?” said Maddox’s daughter, Shynique Garnetto, according to the Journal. “She made you laugh when you were sad. She was always there.”

When Oxygen.com asked Detective Lapatin if he knew of a possible motive, he said it “could be anything.”

“We are hearing from many different people that he was abusive to her,” Lapatin told Oxygen.com. “He was a very jealous person, and that might have been a part of it. It wasn’t new for him to put his hands on her.”

Nathan Cooper is being held without bail. Court records don’t show whether or not he has entered a plea or when he is scheduled to appear in court. It was unclear if Cooper retained legal representation.