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Cooper was last seen in Modesto, California on November 12, 1976. She left with a coworker, James Carlin Toliver, shortly after she had withdrawn $4,000 in cash from her bank account. Cooper's relatives stated James told her he would hurt her family if she didn't go with him. She has never been seen again.
A photograph of James is posted below this case summary. He considered a possible serial killer and is the suspect in the disappearances of several other Modesto-area women. One is Mary Watkins, who disappeared in 1979. Hester Lee Chandler is another; she vanished just after she withdrew nearly $9,000 from her bank account. Photos of her are unavailable. Her date of birth is July 21, 1914, making her sixty years old when she disappeared from Modesto on September 12, 1974, just after she withdrew nearly $9,000 from her bank account. She's described as a White female, 5'7 tall and 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Another possible victim is James's wife, Patty Gay Toliver. Patty is occasionally referred to as Patsy and her maiden name is Hogue. She was last seen on August 12, 1978. Her date of birth is June 14, 1935, making her 43 years old at the time. She and James had been married for 27 years. Her relatives last saw her in June of that year, when she attended a family reunion in South Dakota. While she was there she said James had threatened to kill her or her mother if she attended the gathering. She disappeared not long after the family reunion; James said she'd taken a significant sum of money from their joint savings account. Patsy is 5'4 or 5'5 tall and approximately 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Photos of her are unavailable.
James, a forklift operator and cannery worker from Ceres, California, joined the singles group Parents Without Partners and dated several women following Patty's disappearance, using the alias "Jim Joy." He was known as a heavy gambler. On October 8, 1980, his body was found at the door of his pickup truck on a remote dirt road in Hope Valley, near Lake Tahoe in California. He had died of a heart attack at age 46. He was carrying a .38 caliber pistol and a bloodstained pillowcase containing $98,000, all of it in hundred-dollar bills. Nearly a mile away was the body of Florence Evelyn Richina, a 49-year-old former special education teacher; she'd been shot with a .38 caliber pistol. James's footprints led from the crime scene to his truck. Richina had sold some land and withdrawn $98,000 from her bank account, and that same amount of cash was in the pillowcase with James's body. Some of Richina's personal belongings and jewelry were found hidden in James's home. There were reports that they were going to get married, but authorities could find no marriage license or other evidence to support the stories.
Foul play is suspected in the disappearances of the four women. Their cases remain unsolved.