Karina Cooper arrested, charged in husband’s 2021 murder

Karina Cooper booking photo. Feb. 19, 2024. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TAMA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

TRAER – A rural Traer woman has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the 2021 death of her husband.

It’s been just over two-and-a-half years since Ryan Cooper, 42, was found dead at his rural Traer residence in the early morning hours of June 18, 2021, following a gunshot wound to the head.

Last week Friday, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Cooper’s wife, Karina Sue Cooper, 46, of rural Traer in connection with his death.

On Monday, the Tama County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release announcing Karina Cooper’s arrest.

“On February 19, 2024, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Major Crime Unit (MCU) and the Tama County Sheriff’s Office arrested Karina Cooper at her residence in Traer, Iowa.”


“Karina Cooper was arrested for her role in the Murder in the First Degree for the shooting death of her husband, Ryan Cooper on June 18, 2021.”

According to the criminal complaint, at just after 4:30 a.m. on the morning of June 18, 2021, a 911 call was received by the Tama County Sheriff’s Office saying that someone had been shot at the address of Ryan and Karina Cooper who lived in the 1800 block of K Avenue some seven miles west of Traer.

The first deputy arrived on the scene less than 10 minutes later to find a male lying in a recliner with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the front of his face. Karina Cooper was allegedly observed to be sitting on top of the male who was later identified as her husband, Ryan Cooper.

Further investigation determined Ryan Cooper sustained two gunshot wounds to the face which ultimately killed him. A .22 shell casing was found at the scene, but no firearm was found in the immediate vicinity of his body.

A day after Ryan Cooper’s death, on June 19, 2021, the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner announced his autopsy was complete with the pathologist ruling the cause of death to be homicide and the manner of death to be a gunshot wound.

In the months and years since his death, multiple search warrants and interviews were conducted as part of the investigation but no arrest was made prior to this past Monday.

Per the criminal complaint, Karina Cooper allegedly told two witnesses she wanted Ryan Cooper dead and could shoot him in the face.

On Monday, Karina Cooper was charged in Tama County District Court with one count of murder in the first degree, a Class A felony, and was held on a cash/surety bond in the amount of $1,000,000.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, she was still being held in custody at the Tama County Jail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 9 a.m.

As of publication, no attorney was listed for Karina Cooper.

A Class A felony is the most serious offense under Iowa law and as such is punishable only by a mandatory life sentence without the possibility for parole or probation.

The investigation into Ryan Cooper’s death is currently ongoing. Anyone with information related to the investigation is asked to contact the Tama County Sheriff’s Office at 641-484-4111, or the Iowa Dept. of Criminal Investigation at 515-725-6010, or email dciinfo@dps.state.ia.us.