When newlyweds Shanti Cooper-Tronnes and David Tronnes began renovations on their new home, neither of them knew it would have deadly consequences
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ON the surface, Shanti Cooper-Tronnes seemingly had it all: a loving son from her first marriage, a devoted new husband, a successful career, and a stunning Victorian mansion.

In a February 23, 2024, true crime episode, 20/20 explores how Shanti’s home renovations – and her relationship with her new husband, David Tronnes – spiraled out of control, leading to a deadly conclusion.

When newlyweds Shanti Cooper-Tronnes and David Tronnes began renovations on their new home, neither of them knew it would have deadly consequences

When newlyweds Shanti Cooper-Tronnes and David Tronnes began renovations on their new home, neither of them knew it would have deadly consequencesCredit: ABC News

Who was Shanti Cooper-Tronnes?

Shanti Cooper-Tronnes was a recently divorced mother-of-one when she met David Tronnes online.

The couple reportedly began talking and dating on Match.com in 2013.

David, who was living in Minnesota, later moved down to Orlando, Florida to be closer to Shanti.

In April 2015, he purchased a home on East Copeland Drive for $600,000, and put it in a trust in his mother’s name.

The 4,000-square-foot house was an older-style Victorian home, complete with gargoyle accents, a pool, and a garage apartment.

Shanti originally ran her financial software business out of a home office upstairs, but wanted a more modern-style home.

The couple agreed to start renovating the home, with David set to oversee the renovations.

It made sense – he had told Shanti that he had inherited somewhere between $4 to $6 million from his father, and didn’t need to work.

Meanwhile, the couple took their relationship to the next step and married in 2017.

Within a few months of their marriage, and with renovations well underway, David’s lies – and the newlyweds’ happy life – began to unravel.

Despite not being named on the home’s deed, Shanti was footing the bill for the renovations, to the tune of $250,000.

She also paid the majority of the couple’s bills and living expenses.

“[David] always talked about how he had a ton of money, but she couldn’t figure out why he was such a miser,” Cooper-Tronnes’ friend Melissa Burzinski told police after her death, as reported by People.

“We all thought we knew David Tronnes,” she added.

“Come to find out, what we knew was a facade. He was living a total lie.”

By March 2018, Shanti and David’s relationship was worse than ever, and the ongoing renovations had made their home virtually unlivable.

Shanti and David even slept in separate areas of the house, with David relegated to a couch in the garage and Shanti taking over a studio apartment on the property.

At a loss for what to do, David reached out to his neighbor, Keith Ori, a home renovator.

Ori and his team appeared on the A&E reality television show, Zombie House Flipping.

The premise of the show was similar to many home renovation shows, with Ori and his team finding and buying houses in disrepair, flipping them, and “bringing them back to life.”

Ori agreed to tour their home and see if he could help.

“When I got there, they had fully disassembled this house to a degree that I’d never seen before,” Ori said, as reported by CBS News.

“It was rather astonishing,” he added.

They took away all the interior dividing walls and basically what was left was a two-story shell,” he said.

Up for the challenge, Ori agreed to take on the renovation, as long as the couple was open to being filmed for the show.

In mid-April, he came back to the house to ensure David and Shanti were on board.

“They both agreed, and said, ‘Yes, we understand.’ And then she took off immediately,” Ori recalled.

“I got a sense that she was pissed off at him,” he added.

What happened next wasn’t just a marital spat or an argument over a renovation gone wrong.

Within a few days, Shanti would be dead, and David would be the primary suspect.

What happened to Shanti Cooper-Tronnes?

On April 24, 2018, David Tronnes called 911.

“My wife. I found my wife, she’s not breathing,” he told the operator.

“I tried to do CPR, but I can’t get her to breathe,” he said.

When first responders arrived at the couple’s Delaney Park home, they pronounced Shanti Cooper-Tronnes dead.

She was only 39 years old.

David, seemingly distraught, agreed to go to the Orlando Police Department headquarters, without a lawyer present.

Detectives Teresa Sprague and Barb Sharp interviewed him for 14 hours, quickly finding inconsistencies in his story.

He told them he had gone to walk the couple’s dogs that afternoon, and decided to check on Shanti upstairs when he came home.

He said he heard the water running and found Shanti lying face-down in the tub with her pajamas still on.

“I think something went wrong. Either she slipped and she fell or blacked out or something caused her to collapse,” he said.

Shanti’s injuries didn’t match up with his story.

She had severe injuries to her cheek and eye, consistent with blunt force trauma to the head.

An autopsy would later reveal that she was beaten and strangled to death.

Despite the long interrogation, David maintained his innocence, and even agreed to take a polygraph test.

Investigators couldn’t find anyone last-minute to administer the test, and were forced to let David go.

“You’ve fake cried for about seven or eight hours today,” Sprague told David Tronnes after his interview.

“Not one tear came out of your eyes — not one.”

“You have fake cried over this woman’s death since we made contact with you.”

“There is not a lick of remorse for what you did to this woman,” she added.

Police continued their investigation for months, interviewing Shanti’s friends and families and exploring any leads they could find.

Friends of Shanti told police that David was “mooching” off of her; he had trouble paying for groceries and basic expenses and refused to pay more than a third of the home’s rent.

He reasoned that he was living with two other people in the home – Shanti and her then-eight-year-old son, Jackson.

Investigators were eventually able to piece together the truth behind David’s lies – that he was wealthy, that he had received an inheritance, and that he had nothing to do with his wife’s death.

They found that he was the sole beneficiary of a life insurance policy in Shanti’s name, which would reportedly net him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Police also found forensic evidence that indicated Shanti was murdered in the couple’s bedroom, the scene of the crime.

A photo obtained by WKMG and reported by ABC 15 News showed Shanti “had a busted lip, a bloodied nose, a black eye, and what appeared to be bruising around her chin and neck.”

Her skull was cracked and it appeared she “had been violently strangled.”

“He chose to finish her off by strangling her,” Sprague later told 20/20.

“Watching her suffer for however long,” Sharp added.

“Many, many, many minutes, probably,” Sprague said.

Authorities alleged that David “snapped” and killed Shanti after she discovered his lies, too.

The lies, coupled with her refusal to pay for any additional renovations on the home – or to go on reality TV to have it fixed – were David’s last straw.

David Tronnes was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for killing his wife after she refused to appear on the reality TV show Zombie House Flipping

David Tronnes was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for killing his wife after she refused to appear on the reality TV show Zombie House FlippingCredit: Facebook/Shanti Cooper

What happened to Shanti Cooper-Tronnes’ murderer, David Tronnes?

David Tronnes was arrested on August 29, 2018, four months after Shanti Cooper-Tronnes’ death.

David was arrested at his mother’s house, charged with first-degree murder, and held without bail.

Detectives were able to uncover a key piece of evidence at his mother’s home: Shanti’s missing $15,000 engagement ring.

“He had clearly taken it off of her cold dead body,” Detective Barbara Sharp of the Orlando Police Department said, as reported by ABC News.

His trial was originally delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

David’s lawyers later argued that he was incompetent to stand trial due to a recent schizophrenia diagnosis.

However, in 2023, an Orange County judge determined that David was competent, and the trial could proceed.

David’s trial began on October 12, 2023.

Prosecutors walked the jury through photos of the crime scene and mapped out inconsistencies in David’s story and alleged alibi.

On October 18, just six days after the trial began, a jury found David guilty of first-degree murder.

The judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Shanti’s son, Jackson, attended every day of the trial, and even read an impact statement to the jury, judge, and David.

He said his mother’s death was “like a hole in my heart that I can’t fill or fix.”

“I was just speaking from my heart,” Jackson later told 20/20.

“And I just wanted people to know how good of a person my mom was, and how she deserved the world, and she did not deserve what happened to her.”

According to the Florida Department of Corrections, David Tronnes began serving his sentence at the Northwest Florida Reception Center Annex on December 19, 2023.

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