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Man, 12-year-old daughter found dead

Posted in Related Deaths
5-31-2007 Pennsylvania:

A few weeks ago 12-year-old Mandie Coco told friends her father was molesting her.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mandie and her 41-year-old father, Christopher Coco, were found dead lying on his bed, both shot in the head, in an apparent murder-suicide, Stroud Area Regional police said.

Police said they were looking for a motive, but Mandie's friends and others in the Normal Street public housing development in East Stroudsburg said they always thought her father was an odd man who screamed at children and sported a pistol strapped to his hip.

The father and daughter were found about 2:30 p.m. in the front bedroom of their home at 453 Hill St.

Police went to the apartment to check on Mandie at the request of KidsPeace, where she was enrolled, because she had not been seen at school since Friday, Capt. William Parrish said.

Police got no response when they knocked on the door Wednesday morning and when an officer returned about six hours later and noticed flies clumped on inside windows, he became suspicious, Parrish said.

The officer got the Monroe County Housing Authority, which runs the development, to get him inside the two-story apartment, Parrish said.

The bodies were found upstairs next to each other, Parrish said, and a 9mm semiautomatic handgun was found under Coco.

Police were not certain how long they had been dead, but they believed it was more than 24 hours.

''I would not say it happened today based on what we saw inside,'' Parrish said.

There were no signs someone had broken into their apartment, Parrish said. The windows were locked and both doors were deadbolted from the inside, police said. One door had a snow shovel wedged under the doorknob and another door had a crutch jammed under the knob, police said.

Coco and his daughter lived alone in the apartment, police said.

Mandie's friends rode bicycles and gathered on the other side of the yellow crime scene tape around her apartment, which had a crucifix dangling above the doorway and what appeared to be big towels with pictures of angels hanging in the front windows.

They recalled Mandie as a happy girl and her father as someone to avoid, especially on the days when he screamed at neighborhood children.

''Something was wrong with that man,'' said Dannell Wallace, 30, of 466 Hill St. ''He was crazy. Everybody thinks he's crazy.''

Diana Abreu, 30, of 452 Normal St., said Mandie told her daughters that she was being molested by her father.

''I reported he was molesting her,'' she said. She said she called Monroe County Children & Youth ''a good five weeks ago.''

''I think his secret was going to come out,'' she said.

Wallace said she heard ''pop, pop'' sounds that sounded like gunshots Friday night after 11 o'clock but was half asleep and didn't give it a second thought until Wednesday afternoon when she heard what happened inside the Coco residence.

''I always thought he was a pervert because he was too protective of his daughter,'' Wallace said.

A friend of Mandie's, 12-year-old TaNiro Lundy, said he will always remember her as a ''nice, caring girl.''

''She was very confident in herself,'' TaNiro said.

But, TaNiro said, Mandie was always walking around with bruises on her arms and legs.

''You could tell he beat on her,'' TaNiro said. ''She always came outside with new bruises…and made-up excuses.''

About a week ago, he said, she started wearing a cast on her arm.

Eleven-year-old Arthur Malin said Mandie told him ''over 20 times'' that her father had molested her, and said it happened on birthdays and holidays.

Sometimes Coco made veiled threats to neighborhood children, warning them about what happened to his wife, Arthur said.

''He told us, 'I killed my wife,' '' Arthur said. ''He said: 'She's buried out in the back of the house.'''

It all added up to one thing, said 9-year-old Raven Stewart.

''He was mean,'' Raven said. ..more.. by Joe McDonald Of The Morning Call

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