Oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
Crime News New York Homicide

An Elderly New York Widower Was Strangled In His Upper East Side Apartment — Who Killed Him?

Christopher Cooley's body was discovered almost two weeks after he met a violent end on his own sofa in his locked apartment. But who would have done something so awful?

By Megan Carpentier
Christopher Cooley Nyh 109

Did you use a QR code to find out what crime happened in this New York neighborhood? You're in the right place. Not in New York? Feel like you are by tuning into  "New York Homicide," a series about the most shocking crimes to occur in NYC, premiering Saturday, January 1 at 10/9c on Oxygen.

How to Watch

Watch new episodes of New York Homicide on Oxygen and Peacock. Catch up on the Oxygen app.

The staff at Christopher Cooley's Upper East Side apartment building thought the 78-year-old widower was just on one of his unannounced vacations to Europe when his mail started piling up in March 2016.

But then on March 16, the New York Post reported, his sister called the building superintendent and said she was worried that she hadn't heard from her brother. She asked them to check in on him.

That's when a building worker let himself in and made the grisly discovery: Mr. Cooley's decomposing body, sitting upright in a chair with a pillow over his face and a broken lamp at his side, according to the New York Daily News.

The following day, the city medical examiner determined that Christopher Cooley had been strangled with the necktie found around his neck at the scene, likely after his killer had smashed the lamp on his head.

Investigators noted that the deadbolt had been thrown when the building staff went to check on him, said NYC's WABC 7, and the Post reported that Cooley was still wearing an expensive watch and had $192 in his pocket, likely ruling out a robbery.

The only lead police initially had was a tuft of hair they found clutched in Cooley's hand, according to the Daily News, and unknown fingerprints on the broken lamp, according to the Post.

Neighbors and friends were horrified at the fate that had befallen the elderly man who had survived a kidney transplant just six years before his violent death.

But then police identified a suspect in the case in April: a convicted con man who, when police identified him as the potential killer, had just been extradited to Indiana from Rikers Island.

How did a 60-year-old convicted con man from Indiana end up strangling a 78-year-old Yale graduate with his own necktie in a tony Upper East Side apartment? And why did New York City authorities, if they had him in custody, send him hundreds of miles away to face lesser charges?

To answer these questions and more about the case, watch "New York Homicide," a series about the most shocking crimes to occur in NYC, premiering Saturday, January 1 at 10/9c on Oxygen. You can sign up for Oxygen Insider for more, here.

Read more about: