Mother gets life for killing toddler, leaving his body in Chattahoochee River

19-month-old was found in Cobb in 2021
The GBI created a sketch of the toddler after his body was pulled from the Chattahoochee River in 2021.

Credit: GBI

Credit: GBI

The GBI created a sketch of the toddler after his body was pulled from the Chattahoochee River in 2021.

She claimed a man had kidnapped her young son from a hotel. But the evidence didn’t match Breyanla Lachuan Cooper’s story, according to Cobb County investigators.

Nineteen-month-old Faheem Cooper visited with his grandmother on June 26, 2021. Later that day, he was killed by his mother, who then put his body in the Chattahoochee River. Five days later, the boy’s body was found.

On Thursday, the Cobb district attorney said Breyanla Cooper, 29, pleaded guilty to malice murder, aggravated assault and concealing the death of another. She was sentenced to life in prison.

“It is unimaginable for anyone to take the life of a child, least of all his own mother,” DA Flynn D. Broady Jr. said in a statement. “We are committed to obtaining justice for all victims. We will hold all who are responsible accountable.”

After the discovery of the boy’s body made the news, his mother called Cobb police to identify him, the DA’s office said. Cooper was arrested hours later and initially charged with concealing the death of another after police said she hindered investigators’ ability to determine if the death involved foul play. She has remained in the Cobb jail since her arrest.

Investigators later confirmed Cooper was the child’s mother. In August 2021, she was indicted and charged with his murder.

Cooper “did unlawfully, with malice forethought, cause the death of Faheem Cooper, a human being, by asphyxiation,” the indictment states.

A toddler's body was found in the Chattahoochee River in Cobb County in 2021.

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When she spoke with detectives, Cooper said a man took her son because she owed him money, according to prosecutors. She claimed she didn’t tell anyone or call police because she was scared. Cooper said she left the hotel where she was staying with her children and moved to a different hotel. But surveillance footage from both hotels showed no evidence of the toddler or the alleged kidnapping, the DA’s office said.

Cooper’s mother told detectives she had last seen her grandson on June 26, 2021, and she provided details on the car her daughter was driving, according to investigators. Detectives obtained GPS data for the vehicle and it showed that Breyanla Cooper was at the Chattahoochee River the same day from 5:57 p.m. to 8:08 p.m. It was during this time that she killed her child, leaving him in the river, the DA’s office said.

Cooper’s cellphone showed she had searched for both foster care and the Chattahoochee River before her son’s death, investigators said. Her older child told investigators that her mother said, “Their time with Faheem was done.”

“I cannot imagine how painful this has got to be for the family,” Superior Court Judge Kellie S. Hill said during Cooper’s plea hearing. “There’s just nothing the court can say or do to make this any better for anybody.”

Earlier this year in an unrelated case, the body of a 1-year-old girl was pulled from a pond in a Sandy Springs office park, according to police.

Security footage of a retention pond from the May 11 incident shows a young mother, later identified as Asia Calabrese-Lewis, leading her young daughter through some bushes to the water’s edge. Six minutes later, she is seen walking back — but the child is nowhere in sight.

The toddler was later discovered by police in the pond, face-down and not breathing. She was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Calabrese-Lewis was taken into custody the same day during what police described as a mental breakdown. She was charged with felony murder and first-degree child cruelty and remains in the Fulton County jail.