Crime

‘I’m a monster,’ accused killer in 2016 double murder told Clovis police detective

Clovis double murder suspect Dave McCann appears in court

Suspected killer Dave McCann made his first court appearance on Friday, May 13, 2016. McCann is being held on two counts of murder with a special circumstance for having committed multiple murders; he is accused of the May 7, 2016, stabbing deaths
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Suspected killer Dave McCann made his first court appearance on Friday, May 13, 2016. McCann is being held on two counts of murder with a special circumstance for having committed multiple murders; he is accused of the May 7, 2016, stabbing deaths

With his marriage in shambles, Dave Thomas McCann broke into his estranged wife’s home near Buchanan High School and fatally stabbed her and her mother in May 2016, according to court testimony Tuesday.

“I’m a monster,” he admitted, according to Clovis police detective Dayna DeJong, who testified in McCann’s preliminary hearing.

DeJong said McCann told her that his estranged wife, Tierney Cooper-McCann, 37, and her mother, Judith Cooper, 68, of Paso Robles, had verbally abused him during the marriage. “He said they belittled him and called him names,” DeJong testified.

But he also admitted that the two victims did not deserve to die. “He said he snapped,” DeJong said.

DeJong’s chilling testimony was enough for Fresno Superior Court Judge W. Kent Hamlin to order McCann, a British citizen, to stand trial on two counts of murder. In making his ruling on Tuesday, Hamlin said “the intentional killing of both of these women with a knife was done by this defendant.”

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On Tuesday, July 31, 2018, Dave Thomas McCann, left, sits at the defense table with lawyers Scott Baly and Marina Pincus (back to camera). McCann, a British citizen, is accused of killing his estranged wife, Tierney Cooper-McCann, 37, of Clovis, and her mother, Judith Faye Cooper, 68, of Paso Robles, inside their Clovis home during the early hours of May 7, 2016. plopez@fresnobee.com Pablo Lopez

McCann, 51, will be arraigned Aug. 15. Until his trial, he will be held in the Fresno County Jail without bail, Hamlin said. The District Attorney’s Office has not determine whether to seek the death penalty.

Tierney Cooper-McCann
Tierney Cooper-McCann, estranged wife of Dave Thomas McCann Special to The Bee

The killing happened during the early hours of May 7, 2016, in a home that McCann and his wife once shared on the 700 block of West Omaha Avenue. The couple was going through financial difficulties, DeJong testified.

Because the couple had split up, McCann was staying at a friend’s home down the street, while his wife, her sister, Cortney Cooper-Rider, and their mother stayed in the Omaha Avenue home.

DeJong testified that McCann told her that he got upset when his estranged wife changed the locks to the house. He used his shoulder to break into the home through the front door, the detective said.

DeJong said Cooper-Rider told her that McCann first grabbed his estranged wife from behind and slit her throat. While killing her, according to DeJong, he looked at Cooper and said: “Judy, you’re next.”

Cooper-Rider ran to a neighbor’s home to call 911 after she saw McCann stab her mother, DeJong said. McCann left before police arrived.

Dr. Venu Gopal, the county’s chief forensic pathologist, testified that Cooper-McCann died from the cut to her neck. Her mother died from two stab wounds to her chest that punctured her heart and lungs.

The moving van suspect Dave Thomas McCann was believed to be driving was found in Paso Robles. He is thought to have stolen a bicycle in Paso Robles. Police are asking for help in finding him.

DeJong said McCann told her that after the killings he returned to his friend’s home and drove off in a Penske moving truck that his friend had rented. He drove to Cooper’s home in Paso Robles and broke in, the detective said.

McCann knew Cooper’s husband stored a gun in the home. “He contemplated committing suicide,” DeJong testified.

Instead, McCann stole a backpack, flashlight and bicycle with flat tires. He tried to pump up the the tires but couldn’t, the detective said. By walking and hitchhiking he made it to Seaside in Monterey County, where he was arrested in an encampment for homeless people on May 11, 2016.

DeJong said that people she talked to said McCann was a likeable fellow; Cooper-Rider went so far as to tell her that he was a good uncle to her children. In his confession, McCann said his brain was not working normally and that the killings were “out of his normal character,” the detective testified.

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