Our card this week is Oki Al Kite, The Nine of Hearts from Colorado.
This is part two.
If you haven’t listened to part one, pause here and go back so you can follow along.
In part one, we unpack the beginning of the investigation into the murder of Oki Al Kite
in Aurora, Colorado.
Al was tortured and murdered in 2004, shaking that quiet community to its core.
But early on, detectives had a suspect, Robert Cooper, a man who had rented out Al’s basement
and then disappeared, leaving a trail of phone numbers, addresses, and other identifying
markers behind, except they were all fake.
When we left off, Agent Tom Sobieski with the Aurora Police Department was digging through
Robert’s phone records and tracking down all of the people he had called, and he was about
to make a discovery that left investigators scratching their heads.
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
As Agent Sobieski started working his way down the list of people Robert had contacted
before Al’s murder, he noticed a pattern.
A bunch of them had ties to the University of Colorado Hospital.
Some of the renters only had placed ads, like, in the library at the University of Colorado
It was at 9th and Colorado, or nearby businesses, or in printed, like, directories for people
that were renting to students at the teaching hospital.
Some people only had their ads in those.
So the killer had to be down there at the hospital, had to be going in the library,
had to be going to nearby businesses to get the phone numbers to call the numbers he called.
Out of everyone he called, Agent Sobieski discovered that Robert only met three other
people in person.
Two of them weren’t really interested in talking with investigators or didn’t have
anything helpful to add.
But the last one, a professor at the University of Denver who was renting out part of her
home, described the unnerving feeling she got when she was giving this Robert guy a
She said as soon as he walked in the door, the hair on the back of her neck stood up,
and she thought something horrible was going to happen to her.
He made comments about how he’d seen her ad for this townhome in a ice cream restaurant
called Licks, and he made some comment about, sexual comment about it being Licks.
And he never really answered, asked any questions that would be appropriate for if you’re going
to rent someplace.
And so she felt that she was lucky that she survived.
After the visit, she said that Robert left and never contacted her again.
She didn’t see if he’d left in a car or anything identifiable like that.
She was just happy to be alive.
It was an eerie story for sure.
And it confirmed for investigators that Al’s murder wasn’t committed by someone he knew.
This was probably completely random, and Robert could have just as easily picked someone else.
There were older women that would have been easier to subdue.
Older men, better locations, I feel, to murder someone.
For some reason, he picked Al Kite.
We’re not really sure why.
Now the woman was able to give Agent Sobieski a description of Robert, and much of it they
had heard before, but she also said that he had a distinct voice.
She noticed an accent as she’s talking to him, and she teaches English and had done
it for years, and she noticed a Romanian accent that he had.
And he confirmed to her that he was Romanian.
So here’s the thing.
No one else had mentioned any accent, much less something as specific as Romanian.
But most of the other testimonies had come from people who didn’t get a chance to talk
to this guy, and this woman was actually an English professor.
She spent her life studying language, so of course she picked up on it right away.
From her description and some of the other testimonies, Agent Sobieski was able to get
enough for a composite sketch.
But since the description of Robert’s age varied so much, he actually had two composites
Agent Sobieski thought that this guy was most likely changing his appearance between each
meeting on purpose so that no one would really be able to get an accurate description of
Sometimes he acted and dressed like he was in his 30s, other times his 50s.
So when making these sketches, he wanted to cover all of the bases, just in case someone
recognized him as one version versus the other.
Now here’s something you might already be thinking about that just keeps sticking out
in my mind.
Some of these conflicting descriptions actually come from times when Robert was going to visit
So wouldn’t Al have noticed?
Like, oh, this guy looks different every time he comes over.
While we can’t know what Al thought at the time, Agent Sobieski told our reporter that
his theory is the description of Robert we get from the neighbor, which is the one who
says that he looks older and had a cane.
That one might not be as accurate as some of the others, but it was early in the investigation
and they were desperate to find this guy, so they wanted to include it just to cover
all of their bases.
They didn’t get any hits from the composites right away, but that was okay because they
still had plenty of other leads.
I mean, they weren’t even done with the phone records yet.
As Agent Sobieski was speaking to the woman, other investigators tracked down the serial
number and the model of the phone to a company called Kyocera in Florida.
When Agent Sobieski called that company to inquire about it, they were able to tell him
where Robert bought the phone.
It was purchased at a 7-Eleven about 23 minutes from Al’s place.
And when officers went to the convenience store, they were immediately hopeful that
they would get something on this guy because there were security cameras.
But as you all know, it is never that easy.
7-Eleven at that time maintained surveillance video for 30 days and he waited 31 days to
activate the phone.
Whether he knew that or was just lucky, I don’t know.
So there was no surveillance of him buying the phone.
There was no record.
They also couldn’t track Robert’s financial trail because the store’s records showed
that he paid cash for the phone.
So they honed back in on the data from the phone, specifically the location data.
That proved that he traveled as much as possible to leave a harder trail to follow.
But investigators were still able to tell that he had spent a lot of time near the hospital,
which stuck out in Agent Sobieski’s mind, thinking maybe this guy has some connection
to the hospital.
He knew about cell sites.
Like I said, he traveled from Golden to, you know, far east Aurora and north to south to
So he had that kind of knowledge back in 2004 that the police would use a cell site
location to try to pinpoint where he lived or where he was calling from.
That’s something a lot of people didn’t know back then.
It seemed Robert was outsmarting investigators at every turn.
He thought of everything, including thinking ahead of his time.
But there was something the records told them that probably wasn’t fake.
And it gave them a clue as to what Robert’s daily life may have looked like.
You see, he didn’t make any calls between 8 and 5, Monday through Friday.
He’d do a lot of calls on weekends.
It was evenings.
So our theory is that he had some kind of a job where he was around people and couldn’t
make calls on that phone and discuss, you know, anything about renting.
He didn’t want any witnesses to that.
There were also two to three weeks where no calls were made at all, which just brought
police back to their hospital theory.
If he were a student or faculty member at the teaching hospital, and maybe they had
a spring break or a vacation or something, he might not have been in the area.
But there could have been another reason for the break in calls.
Maybe he was incarcerated.
So they decided to pore over records from all the jails in the area.
But no one they came across fit.
Now to me, the timing of this gap is really important.
And we know that it took place right in the middle of the phone records.
But investigators couldn’t tell our reporter when that was or even the exact number of
days that the break lasted.
Anyways, just as they were closing the door on the phone records, an investigative window
It took them 10 days to fully process Al’s townhome, but the results were finally coming
in and proving to be helpful.
Luminol testing revealed blood residue in the shower, confirming that Robert cleaned
off after the murder.
But most importantly, they determined that the blood that they had found on the step
in Al’s basement wasn’t Al’s.
So it had to be the killer’s, right?
Well, maybe not.
The main thing that the investigation had proven to Agent Sobieski and his team was
that the killer was smart.
He’d outmaneuvered them far before he’d even committed the crime in the first place.
And so to think that he’d be so sloppy as to leave his own blood at the crime scene,
it seemed almost too easy.
And so a new concerning theory started to develop.
We thought, if this guy’s this smart to go through all this to plan this homicide,
and he had some association with the hospital, what’s to say he doesn’t bring somebody
else’s blood and smear it on the step going out of the basement?
So that was a thought that we had, but we know that didn’t happen.
The thought that someone would bring another person’s blood to the scene specifically
to throw investigators off was chilling, to say the least.
But just as quickly as that theory popped up, they put it to bed, because the mystery
person’s blood wasn’t just found on the step.
They also had other samples from the bedroom that weren’t Al’s, samples that not only
matched the blood on the step, but that were too mixed in with the rest of the blood to
have been planted.
There was so much blood evidence, and at the time, the Colorado Bureau of Investigations
told us they were only going to test 10 areas.
And with a whole room full of blood and walls and ceilings, we wanted to make sure one of
those 10 was a suspect.
So we had CBI actually come out, we removed the whole carpeting from the basement, we
laid it out in an evidence bay, and we went through it, and it was fairly quickly.
We had a profile, and then we ran it through CODIS, and we didn’t get any matches in CODIS.
How had they gotten here?
One of the most brutal crimes that these seasoned detectives had ever seen was committed by
Because that’s what it’s feeling like, right?
Like he was invisible.
How had no one seen or heard a thing when a crime scene was this vicious?
That’s what kept bothering Agent Sobieski.
He’d been stuck on the fact that none of Al’s neighbors said they heard any disturbances
despite the hours of torture that they knew Al endured.
And sure, he could have been gagged, but investigators didn’t find any evidence that he was.
So they decided to try and recreate the attack and see what they could hear.
Agent Sobieski went out and stood in the yard and on the sidewalk while other detectives
stood in the basement and screamed.
And he didn’t hear a thing.
He even went into the home that shared a wall with Al’s and tried the test again.
I had a detective stand in where he was killed and scream on top of his lungs and hit the
walls and I couldn’t tell anything was going on, so it’s just well built.
Now it’s a little hard to go in order because so many things were happening all at the same
time in this investigation.
But earlier, like in the first week of the investigation, Agent Sobieski had a fraud
detective looking into Al’s financials since his wallet was missing from the scene.
And now that was finally paying off.
The detective had got a hit from Saturday night.
Al’s credit card was used at an ATM at the Wells Fargo Bank, which just so happens to
be the same Wells Fargo Bank where, if you remember from episode one, Robert had told
Al he worked at, like that was his whole reason for coming to town and needing the
Investigators rushed to the location and asked them if their ATM had a security camera.
And it did.
And yes, it was working that night.
Investigators had finally caught a break.
And when they got their hands on the still images from the ATM, they were over the moon
because they finally had an image of Robert Cooper.
He was wearing gloves and a ski mask that only showed the bridge of his nose and his
So really it just confirmed that he was a white guy with, they think, dark eyes.
But this is better than what they had before, which was basically nothing.
You can actually take a look at that photo on our blog post for this episode.
That’s at thedeckpodcast.com.
The video showed that Robert pulled up to the ATM at 9.59 p.m. in Al’s truck and used
his card to withdraw $1,000 from his account before pulling away.
And it was interesting because he went to the Wells Fargo at 9.99 at South Sable, where
he used the victim’s credit cards.
And one of the transactions he did was Okie Kite would direct deposit his paycheck.
And if you’re a Wells Fargo customer, you can get a loan advance on your paycheck being
deposited prior to the paycheck being deposited.
The suspect knew that transaction and got money from Al’s account, even though it wasn’t
there based on the fact that he had an upcoming deposit of his paycheck.
So that was some knowledge of the Wells Fargo system there as well.
Pieces of the puzzle were falling in place.
Slowly they were learning more about Robert Cooper while also finally narrowing in on
They thought the attack on Al took place between 6 and 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
And this includes everything, like the attack and cleanup.
Then they believe Robert went straight to the ATM and then came back to ditch the car.
But what really stood out to Agent Sobieski from the ATM visit was the amount of money
Any armchair sleuths out there want to check your notes?
This guy could have borrowed against Al’s full direct deposit, but he didn’t.
He took just $1,000, the exact amount that he paid Al for the rental agreement.
He basically got his money back, but robbery wasn’t the motive.
You know, going to the ATM machine, driving the victim’s truck, knowing that we’d see
him was, I think, was all part of his planned out murder.
The further we went in the investigation, the more we, I don’t want to say we were amazed
by his, what he had done and the thought that went into it, but it kind of made us all step
back and think, you know, how long ago did this guy start planning this, this crime to
come up with the phone?
You know how he’s going to pick a victim to go to meeting people and picking the victim
and then planning his crime, then doing the crime and then the ATM and then the, you know,
on and on and on.
It was a well orchestrated homicide, but there were a lot of thought went into it.
Throughout the rest of 2004, they did everything in their power to follow every clue they could.
They worked with Wells Fargo security from Aurora all the way to the East Coast, trying
to determine if Robert really could be an employee, but they never identified a potential
They also looked into students and teachers, basically anyone involved with the hospital.
And there were a few leads that looked promising, specifically doctors from Romania who were
visiting around the times of the murders or even foreign exchange students.
But eventually all of them were ruled out by DNA.
I thought maybe he came in and went to school for a few months and then did this murder
while he was here for school.
But we looked at people who delivered coffee, everything we could think of, you know, the
hospital, security guards, the police department there, they were great helps.
All the instructors, professors got the composite drawings.
We just didn’t have any luck.
Based on how spread out all the call sites were, Agent Sobieski thought Robert had to
have had a method of transportation.
But in all their witness sightings, no one had ever seen him with his own vehicle.
We thought maybe he came there in a bus.
We contacted RTD, all the bus drivers, we hit them all up with composites.
We did a lot of work on this case.
Anybody we thought, we checked every dumpster within miles of, you know, the bank up there,
thinking that he may have dumped some clothing or whatever, but we never found any evidence.
But we spent a lot of work on this case.
Eventually, the leads they had all dried up, and the case went cold.
But Agent Sobieski and the other detectives never forgot about it.
In 2006, they consulted with the FBI, who put together a case bulletin that was uploaded
VICAP is a nationwide database of evidence and other relevant resources from violent
crimes overseen by the FBI.
It has a lot of information stored up, but Agent Sobieski didn’t get any positive hits
with his case, meaning that Robert’s DNA didn’t match up with DNA samples from any
other cases stored in the system.
That same year, though, the FBI sent profilers from the Behavioral Analysis Unit to try and
give investigators a little more insight into who this Robert guy could be.
I kind of agree with the FBI that this guy is a normal guy during the daytime, and he
has a job from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, which the phone records kind of show, and
that you would not know he’s a killer, and that he was looking for somebody to kill,
and he planned this perfect murder, and he had some knowledge he’d be really interested
Like, crime shows that he possibly was a police officer, or maybe was fired from a police
department, or a security guard who couldn’t get hired as a police officer, who wants to
challenge the police to catch him.
You know, some kind of a, maybe a minor criminal history, and that he’s definitely worked his
way up to this, because you don’t start a crime like this.
This would not be a beginner’s luck murder.
This was very well planned out, and months of planning, and very patient.
In 2008, Agent Sobieski was contacted by some officers in Omaha, Nebraska, who had a possible
They had been dealing with a string of murders that had some striking similarities to Al’s
Two people had been murdered that year in their homes, and investigators thought that
they might be connected because both victims were related to doctors and teachers at the
local university, and they were stabbed excessively, one more than 15 times.
None of the four people in Omaha had been tortured, but even though the MO wasn’t
exactly the same, Agent Sobieski looked into the possible connection because it would fit
in with his theory that Robert was connected to the hospital in some way, and, you know,
maybe Robert had been transferred there, or was continuing his studies at that university.
I’m not sure about all the details regarding that investigation, but what I do know is
that ultimately that lead turned into yet another dead end.
They made an arrest in theirs, and it wasn’t, wasn’t, the motive was different.
The suspect in their case had been terminated by these people, and his career was ruined,
he felt, so that’s why he was the motive for their killings.
It would turn out that that wasn’t the end of strange coincidences, because in 2009,
there was another suspicious murder.
This time, it was out in California, where a man was found in his home with his hands
bound and multiple stab wounds, but what really grabbed Agent Sobieski’s attention was that
this man had a connection to Al.
The man’s name was Lee Scott Hall, and he had worked in the same building as Al back
when Al lived in California prior to 2000.
Now they didn’t work for the same company, but still, it was a weird coincidence, weird
enough for Agent Sobieski to look into it.
We talked to all Mr. Hall’s co-workers, we were interviewed, he never mentioned Oki Kite,
we interviewed all, re-interviewed all of Oki’s family, friends, he never mentioned
any Mr. Hall, or the fact that he was murdered, or that he knew him, or anything.
Investigators at the Livermore Police Department then told Agent Sobieski that they had confirmed
sightings of a suspect and a motive which actually didn’t match in Al’s case.
Mr. Scott was a whistleblower on a government project where possibly billions of dollars
had been wasted, and they thought he was murdered because he was a whistleblower, that type
of thing, that case has never been solved.
The suspect in that case, they don’t have DNA, but the suspect in that case seen in
the driveway of the victim, Mr. Hall’s residence that day, was a black male, which
would eliminate him from our crime.
The years dragged on with fewer and fewer leads, and by the 10-year anniversary, this
case was ice cold.
Agent Sobieski still did his due diligence, though.
He updated VICAP every year and followed every new lead that came his way.
The case was featured countless times in local media and got spots on TV shows like America’s
Most Wanted and Sensing Murder.
Over the years, it gained some notoriety and everyone who heard about it developed their
own theories, one of the most popular being that maybe Al was a victim of the serial killer
Israel, who we actually did an episode on for Crime Junkie back in 2019, was a notorious
serial killer who murdered at least three people across the U.S., although the true
number of his victims isn’t really known because he never left any substantial evidence
behind, just like Al’s killer.
He was arrested in 2012 and died by suicide that December while in custody, before he
was ever tried.
Despite similarities, though, Israel’s DNA wasn’t a match to Robert’s.
Another theory from a lot of the online chatter was that Al’s killer was connected to the
murder of a man named Mike Emmert.
Mike was a real estate agent killed in the home that he was hired to sell in Washington
And this one, this one has eerie similarities.
Mike was stabbed multiple times, and while it doesn’t seem like he was bound in any
way, his wallet and his car were stolen.
But that’s not the eerie part.
Officer’s main person of interest was an unknown man who had met Mike’s family a few
times and walked with a cane that they believed was fake and part of a ruse.
But once again, they would hit a brick wall.
His investigators had a DNA sample from Mike’s crime scene to compare with Robert’s.
And it didn’t match.
Agent Sobieski still kept pressing on.
And as DNA technology continued to advance, he finally got something solid.
In 2017, the CBI was able to use new methods called phenotyping and genetic genealogy to
build a better profile of Robert.
So Parabon Nanolabs can take a DNA profile, put it in their database, and they can tell
you with quite a high degree of certainty what color skin your suspect will have, what
color his eyes will be, what color his hair will be.
If he’ll have freckles, they can tell you what part of the world he came from.
And they can put all that information into a computer and they can give you a composite
The results said that Robert was most likely Romanian, with brown hair and brown or hazel
They created and released a new digital composite of Robert and even made an age-progressed
version to show what he would have looked like at the time they were made in 2017.
But the new composites didn’t bring any new leads, and they couldn’t find any trace
of anyone in Robert’s family using genealogy.
We’re talking not even distant relatives, which, for Agent Sobieski, confirmed that
Robert and his family most likely lived outside of the U.S.
So even though this didn’t pan out and point directly to their killer, maybe their
theory that he was a foreign exchange student or a visiting doctor did have some weight
Agent Sobieski worked with Interpol and Homeland Security to get the DNA uploaded into some
of their international systems, hoping that they’d get some sort of hit there.
But they still ended up with nothing.
Which means, you guys, this man’s DNA hasn’t shown up in any other crime scenes anywhere
else in the world, or at least it hasn’t been uploaded to any systems.
It seems unreal, right?
Was this some perfectly planned-out crime, just one and done, or did he get better and
leave even less behind?
If he was smart enough to know about cell phone pings and the window of surveillance
footage and burner phones, maybe he was smart enough to completely change his MO altogether.
You understand now why this case gnaws at me, right?
Because you can see Robert Cooper in any unsolved case if you really want to, if he really is
In 2019, with not a whole lot to lose, investigators allowed Al’s case to be featured on the Oxygen
Network show The DNA of Murder with Paul Holes.
Their production team traveled to Aurora, and it was actually a member of their team
that stumbled upon an interesting piece of information.
They learned about a group called the Turkish Hezbollah, which is a mostly disbanded terrorist
group in Turkey.
But while they were active, they had some gruesome torture techniques.
That came up as part of the falaka, is what the term is for the beating in the bottom
of the feet.
It’s certainly a theory that I haven’t ruled out.
They use that type of torture, and it’s from that area of the world, so I certainly haven’t
ruled it out.
The idea that Robert could have been affiliated with this group in some way, or at least taken
inspiration from them, was definitely interesting.
But unfortunately, the theory didn’t help push the case forward.
It ended up becoming another bit of information to add to the 17 three-ring binders Agent
Sobieski had filled out over the course of his investigation.
And that’s really all he has, bits of information that have never quite fit together to form
a full picture of Al’s killer.
The case remained frozen as Agent Sobieski retired in 2021, after more than three decades
with the department, almost half of which he spent on Al’s case.
But that wasn’t the end of the road for the investigation.
In January 2022, Detective Jason McDonald became a cold case detective for the Aurora
police, and he was assigned Al’s case.
He hit the ground running trying to dig up new leads, and it wasn’t long before an interesting
one found its way to him.
In the spring of 2022, he was contacted by the FBI about a 2009 murder that took place
in Lincolnshire, England.
And that case matched Al’s.
The victim’s name was Alan Wood, and he was in his 50s when he was found murdered
in his home.
He’d been stabbed, tortured, even had a knife wound to his head, just like Al Kite.
His cause of death was also a cut to his throat.
Not only did they find some of his killer’s DNA, but the man had even been photographed
around the region wearing a mask and using Alan’s credit card at ATMs.
We have a picture in the blog post for this episode of all that as well.
Now that crime was still unsolved, and Detective McDonald was over the moon when he learned
that they had Alan’s killer’s DNA on file.
So they went ahead and compared that sample with Robert’s.
The test took a few weeks, and Detective McDonald was shocked to learn that it wasn’t
But he was just getting started.
Since then, he’s been able to once again utilize updated technology to inch the investigation
ever so slightly closer to the finish line.
He’s connected with a local organization called United Data Connect, and they’ve
been retesting Robert’s DNA and digging deeper into his genealogy.
So when you upload your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA.com, and you opt in for it being accessible to
law enforcement, and say we have a suspect DNA profile that we’re trying to find in
that database, and we get something that has a relative match to it, it’ll give a value.
Like on a scale of one to a hundred, for example, a hundred would be a very high number, as
Using this process, United Data Connect was able to find what Detective McDonald says
is a high value match to Robert’s DNA.
About 41 percent.
There is some relation to our killer’s DNA, but it’s not super high.
So we’re looking in the third to fourth cousin range, which would mean our killer
and this person who’s uploaded their DNA into FamilyTreeDNA.com have about, they probably
have the same great, great grandparents.
So it’s going to be a pretty big family tree to map out, but there is a relation.
And I’ve been working on contacting them to try to map out their family tree and get
more people, more males in their family tested with DNA kits to narrow down this killer profile.
There is some hesitancy, and I think it’s understandable when you get a cold call from
a person saying they’re a detective in another state who has seen your profile and wants
to dig more about your family history to find a killer in your family.
I think that cold call can be quite intimidating and cause some hesitancy in some people.
And that’s the kind of roadblock I face with this part of the job.
Ultimately, Detective McDonald says that he will most likely have to travel to this family
and get additional samples himself in order to complete their family tree and bring them
one step closer to Al’s killer.
But it’s just about finding the time in his schedule.
I mean, Al is only one of dozens of cold cases on his plate.
The DNA is the key to unlocking the mystery of Robert’s identity.
And that’s beyond important because not only did this guy end Al’s life in such a horrific
way, but investigators believe he’s done something similar before.
And the longer he is able to be free out in the world, the more likely he is to do it again.
Well, I’ve been an officer for 35 years here with the ROAR PD, and this is the biggest
case I’ve ever had here.
And I think about this case quite often.
I could honestly say that this case comes to mind even though I’m retired for a year,
probably once a week.
Al was such a nice guy, and he was targeted for no reason and murdered, you know, he had
family and I met Al’s sister.
And I mean, the family’s just crushed beyond, if you can imagine, your brother being found
We all feel kind of guilty that we can’t solve it because that was our job.
And Al was such a nice guy.
If you have any information about Al’s case or Robert’s real identity and whereabouts,
don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you were in or around Aurora in 2004, you may have seen this guy, even if you didn’t
realize it before.
He was white with brown hair and brown eyes, likely.
And while he didn’t have any tattoos or markings that would make him stand out, he did have
that recognizable Romanian accent.
And he may have frequented Wells Fargo locations or the University Hospital.
If this information jogs your memory even a little bit, you can call Detective McDonald
at the Aurora Police Department at 303-739-6013.
Metro Denver Crime Stoppers is also offering a reward of up to $2,000 for tips, and you
can call them at 720-913-7867.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
So what do you think, Chuck?
Do you approve?