The man who murdered Melissa Cooper, 30, dismembered her body and scattered her remains so that most could not be found — causing her family the “life-long agony” of never knowing her final resting place — has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 22 years.
Ian Albert Ohab, 41, was found guilty of second-degree murder by a jury in January and pleaded guilty to indignity to a human body.
Cooper and Ohab encountered each other at a Toronto Community Housing building at 220 Oak St., where Cooper was visiting a friend and was trying to buy drugs for them. Security video from the building’s elevator in the early hours of April 15, 2016, shows Cooper and Ohab together and getting off at the 23rd floor where his apartment was. Exactly why she went into the apartment with Ohab and what happened afterward remains known only to Ohab, who claimed when testifying that they smoked crack cocaine together and that Cooper overdosed.
But Superior Court Justice Suhail Akhtar found that the evidence suggests Cooper was attacked by Ohab shortly after entering the apartment. The exact way she died was deliberately concealed by Ohab’s decision to dismember her body and disperse her remains, Akhtar said.
Ohab’s actions “not only deprived a young woman of life but her family and friends of a presence that brought happiness and love,” Akhtar said.
After the decision, Cooper’s uncle Chris Cooper said justice had been served and that he hopes Ohab — whom he called “a predator” — never gets parole.
On Wednesday, court heard that Ohab took the unusual step of writing a letter to Akhtar after his sentencing hearing, to the surprise of both the Crown and defence.
The letter repeated “his assertions that he should be seen as one of life’s victims: a person who had been on the front lines of suffering,” Akhtar said. However, Ohab’s long criminal record, which involved four previous instances of harassment and violence toward women, and his “lack of understanding” or remorse for his action “speaks volumes to his lack of prospects for rehabilitation,” Akhtar said.
Akhtar also noted that Ohab’s history with drug addiction did not play a role in the murder other than serving as the reason he and Cooper encountered each other in the first place.
During the sentencing hearing, Cooper’s family and friends described her as a loving, caring person with an “infectious goodness” who had plans to change her life after several years struggling with drug addiction.
“She was my hero,” Cooper’s mother Michelle Ball said in her victim impact statement. “She had survived so much pain and trauma in her life on the street but she was not angry or resentful because of it. She was truly the most compassionate and sensitive person in spite of everything she had been through.”