Investigation Discovery’s ‘Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda: Body in the Freezer’ deals with the assault on Jim Cooper in Colorado Spring in June 1994. He survived, and his testimony, as well as evidence found by investigators, aided in the capturing of the assailant. The episode is a dramatic recreation of the events and covers the incident in depth. If you’re intrigued to know more about the case as well as the identity of the assailant, we’ve you covered. Let’s begin then, shall we?
How was Jim Cooper Assaulted?
On June 9, 1994, landscapers Chris Blazer and Mark Jordan came across a car on Point of Pines Drive in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at around 9 am. Inside the car, they found an individual who had been shot. They called 911 to report the incident, and the gunshot victim was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. He was identified as James “Jim” Cooper who was the owner of a small asbestos removal consulting business.
Jim was a well-respected member of the community. He was found in the front seat of the car with two small gunshot wounds. He had been shot twice on the side of his face and had blood on his face, neck, and arms. When Jim was taken to the hospital, the lodged fragments prohibited him from speaking, and he had to undergo critical surgery before he recovered his ability to speak again.
Who Assaulted Jim Cooper?
Investigators found a .22-caliber revolver inside the car, by the driver’s seat. They assumed it to be the assault weapon and found that the serial number of the gun had been scratched with a screwdriver. The gun was sent to the lab to see if the serial number could be retrieved so that the gun could be traced. They also found evidence of a struggle on the ground by the car as well as an empty lawyer’s folder at the crime scene.
However, the investigators did not have to look for the assailant long because they received a call from dispatch that told them another individual had walked into a gas station across the station, all bloodied. He had called the police to state that he had been in an altercation with his business partner that ended up in one of them getting shot. When officers reached the scene and questioned him, they learned that his name was Steve Devito, and he was the business partner of Jim.
Meanwhile, Jim communicated in writing to the investigators at the hospital that he had been shot by his partner, Steve Devito. On the other hand, Steve claimed that Jim had initiated the attack, brought out a gun, and tried to gouge out his eyes. The investigators were in a dilemma regarding who the aggressor was. While Steve was in custody in El Paso County Jail, his wife came to the police with a document and claimed it was proof that Jim was threatening him.
When the police went through the document, they were astounded to find that it said Jim had written over all his possessions and bank accounts to Steve. The detectives began to sense that Jim had sniffed out the financial fraud and had gone over to Steve’s house, and the two had a heated conversation. However, Steve denied having any knowledge of the dubious contract papers. As investigators began to look more into Steve’s background, they uncovered a startling fact – Steve had been previously convicted of shooting his mother as a teen.
As per official police records, 16-year-old Steve had shot his abusive mother in “self-defense” when she allegedly brought out a shotgun during an argument. He then covered the body in a rug and kept it in the freezer before enlisting the help of a cousin to dispose of it in the woods. However, a police officer pulled their car over on May 29, 1985, on the grounds of a broken headlight and found them with the body in the car. Steve was convicted, but the juvenile court sentenced him to 4 years of probation in light of his abusive childhood and alleged self-defense story.
Where is Steve Devito Today?
The detectives charged Steve with attempted murder after forensics recovered the serial number on the gun that revealed him as the owner of the gun. Jim had also recovered after the surgery and told the police how Steve had tried to con him, stealing money from his bank account while falsely leading him on with the fake promise of bringing big business contracts. When Steve understood that Jim was onto him, he brought him to the Point of Pines Drives and shot him in the face.
Steve had then tried to pass off the crime as another act of self-defense, but Jim survived. The police had also seen through his modus operandi. Ultimately, Steve pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison and served his prison term at the Colorado Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, not much is known about Steve, who might be in his mid-50s now. Moreover, there are no current inmate records of him which indicate he might already have been discharged after serving his sentence.