- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

MONROE, Mich. (AP) - The family of a southeastern Michigan teen who went missing in 1996 is upset about a handwritten sign claiming he was killed that someone displayed at a downtown intersection.

James Cooper of Monroe was 16 when he disappeared Oct. 25, 1996, the Monroe News (https://bit.ly/1P5n75w ) reported. The sign reading “In loving memory of James Cooper who was murdered and hid the day he went missing at Greenwood Apartments” was recently attached to a street sign.

Monroe police Sgt. Derek Lindsay said the sign has been removed and is being held as evidence.

Cooper’s mother, Teresa, said she doesn’t know who would put up such a sign. She said family members remain hopeful that he ran away and one day will return home safely.

“Why would somebody be so cruel?” she asked. “It’s totally cruel to me that they would do that. Why would somebody put that up? It’s just mean.”

Lindsay said there’s no indication James Cooper has been harmed and that it was “just very odd” that someone would put up such a sign.

Family members last saw James Cooper when he left for school without his wallet or identification. He made it to Monroe High School that day and was seen outside the building, but after that point family members had no word of what happened.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has created an image of what James Cooper would look like as a man to help assist in the search.

“We just have to keep going every day,” Teresa Cooper said. “After that sign, we’ve been talking about it lately. I don’t know what to think anymore.”

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Information from: Monroe News, https://www.monroenews.com

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