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No more monkey business

Becky Vargo • Dec 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM

A former Grand Haven woman who left a threatening note on a blue stuffed monkey was sentenced Monday for stealing from the storage unit where the monkey was found — hanged by the neck with a red, plastic jump rope.

Kimberly Lynn Cooper, 49, of Holland, apologized before being sentenced to 18 months probation Monday morning in Ottawa County Circuit Court 

“I just want to say I’m sorry,” she said.

Judge Ed Post also gave her credit for nine days served in jail and ordered her to complete the Moral Recognition Program.

Cooper was also ordered to pay $1,600 in restitution, with the possibility of a higher amount pending a restitution hearing.

Dean Stillson said, although the items in his mother’s storage unit were not priceless, many of them were not replaceable either.

Many of the items belonged to his sister – who is deceased – and were being kept for her children, he said.

“The kids grew up without their mother and now they have no memories to look at,” Stillson said as he gave his victim statement.

Among those items were a unique candle collection, some of which were purchased for around $300, he said.

Other items taken included his mother’s backup breathing machine, a set of Callaway golf clubs and a mountain bike.

“She even went as far as to steal a wheelchair, only showing remorse when she was in the back of the police car,” Stillson said.

Stillson said the amount to replace the stolen items that his family agreed upon was about $3,400.

Defense attorney Marc Curtis said they had agreed to the $1,600 amount.

Cooper was arrested April 14, 2014, when Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies found her inside the unit at M&M Storage on Robbins Road, little more than an hour after the original police report was made.

Deputies responded to Stillson’s report of the threatening note a short time earlier.

The call came across the scanner at 4:14 p.m. on 4/14/14.

Responding deputies found the monkey hanging in the noose, with a note that said, “this is you.”

Sheriff’s Capt. Mark Bennett said at the time they believed the note was in response to a note the unit renter had left telling whoever was going inside to stay out.

The unit had been broken into several months prior, the captain said. On April 12, 2014, Stillson found the lock broken and more items missing. That’s when he left a note that said, “Stay out of here. This is not your stuff.”

When deputies arrested Cooper, Bennett said other items from the storage unit were also found in her car.

Cooper was charged with breaking and entering a building with intent, a charge that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

She was released on $7,500 bond, and was supposed to return for Circuit Court arraignment on May 27, 2014, but never appeared.

A warrant was ordered for her arrest and her bond money was eventually raised to $50,000, possibly because she failed to show up for court hearings, said her attorney, Marc Curtis.

Neither Curtis nor Cooper would comment further following the sentencing.

Cooper was arrested and spent nine days in jail before posting bond. 

She entered a guilty plea to the breaking and entering charge on Nov. 3.

Stillson said he was not happy with the results.

“I don’t feel like she got what she deserved,” he said. “It’s a slap on the wrist for what she did.”

Stillson said the sentence didn’t seem to take into account that she disappeared for more than a year.

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