Man accused of killing Paso woman had been acting strange, police say

Dave Thomas McCann
Dave Thomas McCann

In the weeks leading up to a double murder in Clovis, accused killer Dave Thomas McCann was acting strange and hostile toward his estranged wife, accusing her of cheating on him, according to a police investigation made public this week in Fresno County Superior Court.

He packed up his belongings and moved out of his home, documents filed with the court say. His wife and her family did not see him for several days, and they did not know where he went.

The affidavit says McCann, 49, returned to the West Omaha Avenue home during the early morning hours of May 7 and stabbed his estranged wife, Tierney Cooper-McCann, 37, as well as mother-in-law Judith Faye Cooper, 68, of Paso Robles.

McCann is being held in the Fresno County Jail without bail. His arraignment on two murder charges is scheduled for May 27.

She saw Dave cut Tierney’s throat with a knife.

Clovis police Detective Drew Mosher

The affidavit by Clovis police Detective Drew Mosher gives a disturbing glimpse into the killings, which were witnessed by Cooper-McCann’s sister, Cortney Cooper-Rider, 45.

“Cortney said she woke to sounds of a door being bashed, and when she went to investigate, she saw Dave attacking Tierney with a knife,” the affidavit says. “More specifically, she saw Dave cut Tierney’s throat with a knife.”

“She also noticed Dave was wearing gloves,” Mosher says in his report.

Cooper-Rider ran from the house and asked a neighbor to call police. McCann was gone when police arrived.

Arriving officers found one body “in the common living area”; the other body “in a locked bedroom.”

“The officers saw blood, including bloody footprints, strewn throughout the house,” the affidavit says.

Arriving officers found one body “in the common living area;” the other body “in a locked bedroom.”

A neighbor told police that he had picked up McCann at the airport two days before the killings and let McCann stay with him. The neighbor also told police that McCann had rented a Penske truck that was parked at his neighbor’s house. When officers arrived, the truck was gone.

Another neighbor’s surveillance camera recorded McCann walking from his neighbor’s house to his estranged wife’s home sometime after 3:30 a.m. May 7, the affidavit says. The video shows the rented truck leaving the neighborhood shortly before 4 a.m.

The affidavit was written in support of a request for a search warrant to help detectives figure out where McCann was hiding. Police said McCann had at least two cellphones, but McCann turned off his cellphones while in hiding.

A resident of Paso Robles spotted McCann’s rental truck on the evening of May 7. Clovis police detectives picked up the trail there.

McCann was arrested May 11 in Seaside in Monterey County after an intense manhunt by multiple police agencies. Clovis police say a tip from a homeless person led police to McCann, who was found sleeping in a homeless encampment.

Neighbors say Cooper-McCann was seeking to divorce McCann and was attempting to obtain a restraining order when she and her mother were killed.

Clovis police Capt. Tom Roberts has said officers recovered a weapon that may have been used in the killings but were waiting for DNA tests to be processed to confirm it.

McCann was born in England. The British consulate is aware of his criminal case, a lawyer said.

Since the killings, the victims’ family has reached out to friends and family on Facebook.

A posting says Cooper-McCann was born in Fresno and attended Bullard High School. From Bullard, she traveled overseas to pursue her education in art at a London university. Her love, however, was working with children, the posting says.

Inspired by her mother who had worked for years as a preschool teacher, Cooper-McCann got a job as child life specialist at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno in the burn unit.

“Her beautiful spirit and kind heart will be missed and serves as a reminder to live each day to its fullest as she did. She enjoyed dancing, traveling, gardening, making others laugh and socializing with new people, music, and celebrating the holidays with loved ones,” the posting says.

Since the killings, the victims’ family has reached out to their friends and family on Facebook.

The family plans to hold a private memorial service. The posting points to a GoFundMe page for anyone who would like to send donations, in lieu of flowers, to aid with memorial expenses.

The family released a statement to the media that says: “More than a week has passed since our beloved Tierney and Judy were taken from us. The days since their deaths have been filled with peaks and valleys.” The family thanks law enforcement, the media and Peter Thanos, acknowledged as the homeless man who helped police track McCann to the Seaside encampment.

“This tragedy has allowed us to meet some amazing, heart-warming, caring and beautiful people,” the statement says. “It has also brought us closer to friends and family who we’ve lost touch with over the years. If one must find a silver lining in such circumstances, this is ours.”

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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