On August 19th, 2012, a man walked into a convenience store in Door County, Wisconsin and asked to use the phone to call 911. The man proceeded to tell the operator he wanted to report a murder. She asked who had been murdered and he explained it was a twenty-one-year-old Alisha Bromfield, his co-worker. When asked if he knew who killed her, the man said, “I did”. The man, Brian Cooper, was Alisha’s supervisor at The Home Depot store in northern Illinois. The story of Alisha Bromfield’s death would send shockwaves through the Midwest and spur legislation changes in thirty-two states.
Alisha Bromfield was born August 28th, 1990, in Will County, Illinois. She was a graduate of Joliet Catholic Academy and was enrolled at Western Illinois University. She was studying forensic science and criminal justice. Alicia had been working for Grand Flowers Growers, setting up displays at the local Home Depot. She was a happy person who enjoyed life and loved her family and friends. In early 2012, Alisha discovered she was pregnant. Her child’s father chose not to be involved, but Alisha was excited to be a mother. She learned she was having a daughter and decided to name her Ava Lucille.
Alisha’s job with Grand Flowers Growers and Home Depot allowed her to be paid during the off season, which was essential for a student with a baby coming. For this reason, Alisha often tolerated things from her older boss, Brian Cooper. According to complaints Alisha made with her company, Brian called her a slut and whore on several occasions when she denied his advances. Brian told co-workers that Alisha was his girlfriend. He continued to make sexual advances towards her in the workplace and abuse his authority as her supervisor. According to Alisha’s friend, he would threaten to fire her if she didn’t work when she had a doctor’s appointment. He used his authority to get her to walk his dog on several occasions, giving her a key to his home. Despite multiple complaints to upper management, Brian Cooper retained his position and continued his behavior.
In August of 2012, Brian convinced Alisha to accompany him to his sister’s wedding in Door County, Wisconsin. Her friend and mother believed he threatened her job if she did not attend. Alisha told her mother that they were staying at the same resort as the wedding party as Brian was walking his sister down the aisle. Alisha, seven months pregnant, and Brian set off to Wisconsin, nearly four hours away from home.
The morning of the wedding, Alisha’s mother got a phone call from Alisha. She was upset and explained that she and Brian were headed back to Illinois after having an argument. Alisha’s mother was concerned because Brian was supposed to walk his sister down the aisle that day. She urged Alisha to inform his sister they were leaving. That is when she learned that her daughter and Brian were not at the same hotel as the wedding party. Alisha didn’t even know where the wedding party was staying. A few hours later Alisha let her mother know they decided to stay for the wedding.
Early the next morning, Brian Cooper walked into a convenience store and asked the clerk to call 911 for him. He was soaking wet and confessed to murdering Alisha Bromfield. When police arrived at the hotel room, they found Alisha Bromfield lying partially covered and with a pillow neatly placed under her head. She had been strangled. Both Alisha and her unborn daughter Ava were gone.
In his confession, Brian Cooper stated that the two had an argument after the wedding. He said he was intoxicated and realized that once the two of them were back in Illinois, Alisha was going to terminate all contact with him. He said she didn’t want that. After Alisha fell asleep. Brian said he debated on harming Alisha. He finally decided to strangle her. He took a cord, he said probably a phone charging cable but he wasn’t sure, and jumped on top of her. He started strangling her as she begged for him to spare the life of her unborn child. Brian didn’t stop until Alisha was dead. Then, in an act of unthinkable depravity, Brian Cooper sexually assaulted Alisha postmortem. He said, “I wanted to see her naked” (True Crime Daily).
During his confession, Brian Cooper admitted to hurting, but not killing, an ex-girlfriend. The girlfriend did not press charges against him. Police also learned that Brian Cooper had been obsessed with Alisha Bromfield. He had set up cameras in the bathroom at his home, capturing Alisha as she used the restroom after taking his dog for a walk. He even set a camera up in their hotel room, capturing her coming out of the shower. Brian Cooper was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and third-degree sexual assault.
Despite his confession, Brian Cooper plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. His defense claimed that voluntary intoxication rendered him incapable of understanding what he was doing. Basically, he was too drunk to know right from wrong. The prosecution poked holes in this theory, citing Cooper’s confession and ongoing abuse of Alisha. Brian Cooper was able to recall in great detail what he did to Alisha, inconsistent with someone who was incapacitated by alcohol. Cooper even tried to commit suicide after the crime with a dull knife and then by drowning himself, which is why he was soaked when he walked into the convenience store.
Unbelievably, the jury could not reach a verdict as 2 of the 12 jurors believed Brian Cooper’s voluntary intoxication defense made him not responsible for the murder. Alisha’s family would have to endure a second trial. In the meantime, Alisha’s mother and friend decided that they did not want anyone to ever be allowed to use voluntary intoxication as an excuse for murder ever again. Her mother spearheaded a campaign to have the laws changed. She was successful in getting laws passed to ban the voluntary intoxication defense in 32 states, including Wisconsin. However, the law would not be applied to Brian Cooper as the murder occurred before it was passed.
At Brian Cooper’s second trial, the jurors once again heard about his sick obsession with Alisha and how he abused his authority as her supervisor. They saw the images captured by hidden cameras. They listened to Cooper’s confession where he explained in great detail about his decision to murder Alisha despite her pleading for the life of her unborn daughter. The jury found him guilty on all counts. Brian Cooper was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison. Brian has tried numerous times, unsuccessfully, to appeal the verdict.
Sherry Anicich, Alisha’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against The Home Depot and Grand Flower Growers. According to the lawsuit, the companies were negligent because Cooper showed a pattern of misconduct in the months before the murder. He had called Alisha a whore and slut on numerous occasions and Alisha had repeatedly complained. Despite this, no action was taken to investigate, monitor, or limit the control Brian Cooper had over Alisha in the workplace. The lawsuit was initially dismissed, but that decision was overturned on appeal.
In addition to fighting for legislation changes, Alicia’s family also started the Purple Project in honor of Alisha and Ava. The organization gives support to singe mothers and offers grief counseling to parents who have lost children. If you’d like to make a donation you may do so here: Home | mysite (purpleproject.org)