Texas Man, 80, Charged in 1969 Cold Case Killing of Common-Law Wife

Ralph Tyrone Cooper was charged with murder in the death of Mary Ann Burton, his common-law wife.
Houston Police Department

An 80-year-old man was charged with the cold case killing of a woman found shot dead in Texas nearly 50 years ago, authorities said.

Ralph Tyrone Cooper was charged with murder in the death of Mary Ann Burton, his common-law wife who was just 21 years old when she her body was found in a vacant field in Houston on July 20, 1969, police said.

Cooper is accused of getting into an argument with Burton before shooting her in the head in their home.

He was believed to have fled the city, and though investigators obtained a warrant for Cooper’s arrest at the time, it was dismissed in 1973, KHOU-TV reported.

But this June, Burton’s loved ones contacted the Houston Police Department’s cold case unit with information about Cooper’s whereabouts.

Authorities learned he was serving time in a Huntsville prison for an unrelated murder conviction. Detectives traveled to the prison, where Cooper allegedly admitted to killing Burton. 

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