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MISSING: Rachel Cooke

2019-04-01

17 years ago, college student Rachel Cooke was visiting her family home in Texas for her winter break. She went out for an early morning run on her regular route but never return. No sign of Rachel has been found in all these years but there was a break in 2017 that could hold all the clues to what happened to her.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode is brought to you by simply safe, go to simply safe dot com, slash crime junkie, to build your system today, high crime, junkies, I'm your host, Ashley flowers and I'm bread, and today's missing person case was suggested by a listener at the meta by did in Austria, and she actually suggested. I cover one of their most infamous missing person cases. It was a case I'd heard of, but I have to realise that in the last couple of years, or so there had been some significant developments and police are looking for help from the public to get that one piece of additional information that can finally solve this.
Sixteen year old cold case the case of Rachel Cook at the time of our story into does, to Rachel. Was a nineteen year old college student who was attending school in San Diego? She was a Finally, from Georgetown taxes, which is just a little north of Austin and in two thousand and two it was considered a small town, Rachel's family.
I lived in a little house that was set far back from the road and everyone around her had land. The house's all sat on like one to five acres of property and having established their family in this, like small town America Rachel's parents were a little nervous when she said that she wanted to go away to big bad San, Diego California, foresaw they considered it to be a big city. Bad things happen in. Cities and they never could have imagined that it would be there in Georgetown, Texas, we're Rachel was home visiting for winter break that something bad. What happened to her Rachel had come home for winter break from San Diego, with her new boys, in tow. His name was Gregg and made met while attending school and Rachel was head over heels for him and him for her. She was telling her friends and her family that she really thought that he was the one
They had planned to moving together when Rachel got back from winter break and she hoped that after graduation, there would be an engagement to follow. Gregg wasn't able to stay for the full winter break in Texas with Rachel. So after about a week, he went home to California and left racial behind to spend more time with her friends and family Thursday January ten was like any other day for the crux Rachel's parents. Her sister all woke up early because they were hustling and bustling around the house before eight am getting ready to go to work in school, and the family left the house around eight o clock in the morning, Rachel's mom, remember saying goodbye to her and telling her that she loved her and Rachel was sleeping on the couch and intrude teenage fashion. She was just like grumbling goodbye now Rachel's family, each left the house going about their business as if it were any other
it wouldn't be until much later that they would realise that this was the last normal day they would ever have when Rachel's dad at home. Later in the day, was around three o clock. He was actually supposed to take Rachel Shopping, but he was surprised to find Rachel, not home. She didn't have a car. Oh, she wouldn't have gone somewhere on her own and she may be could have gone too far with her friends, but he didn't really feel right about that either because her cell phone was there her purse was there, like all of her makeup, was still there her closer so they're. So he calls Rachel's best childhood friendship and to see if maybe they were together, they had. Spending a ton of time together, while Rachel's home, so she was anywhere. She was gonna, be the Shannon but Shannon hadn't, seen or heard from her all day. She tells Rachel's dad that they did have plans later the night to go to a party together and when Shannon hears that Rachel left all her belongings at the house. This made her really worried. She said Rachel, never left the house about taking
person or cell phone and should always take her make up with her. So she couldn't think of anywhere that she would be without those things but heard. I had an idea, maybe She was at work. What maybe her schedules got like crisscrossed, or maybe she picked up a last minute shift Whenever Rachel came home, she would pick up random ships at this local restaurant to make some extra money. So he calls the restaurant, it's called wild fire and If Rachel's working and the person on the other end says yes, she is, and so on. In ITALY. There, like a sigh of relief, she must have just picked up an extra chef didn't thing to tell us. Some one must have picked her up, and maybe it was very last minute and she does left without taking all of her think she's gonna be home tonight, everything's fine. But ours pass and as it gets leader and later into the evening. Rachel doesn't come home her parents ago, through her things, to try and find maybe like what kind of clothing is missing until that, maybe they can narrowed down where she might be. After going through everything
They realise that the only things that are missing are her jogging, close her running shoes and her portable music player. Rachel obviously went for a run, and this was really worries. For the family, because, even though a super normal for her to run like long distances, you'd be gone a long time. She was a long distance runner in high school and every day she ran like four to six miles. The weird ways that she usually did her runs in the morning and even it for some reason she had run and later that day she should have been backed by now. Even forty six miles would not have taken her this law right. So her family starts to worry that something bad happened to her. Maybe she got hit by a car while she was running or me, he's lying in the street, maybe she's incapacitated somewhere. Maybe she rolled and ankle so
Through the night, her family starts driving around driving her running route. Looking on the side of the road, looking for any sign of Rachel, a shoe may be her disk player, but they don't see anything. Did they go back to the police? I mean I would just be losing my mind and they were, but I actually heard in an interview that her family thought you had to wait. Twenty four hours to file a report which I can totally see how they thought that how many stories have we cover people have been told by the police that you have to wait a certain amount of time, so they had this like preconceived notions in their head. They thought they had to wait till the next morning, but as soon as they thought could go to police, they did now, unfortunately, even though they didn't have to wait. There was still some snags in the system when they report her missing on Friday, the eleventh for whatever reason, the person they reported. It too didn't think it was extremely pressing and they basically plan to get somebody on it on Monday.
Like days landing or even missing for a day and they're going away a couple of more days. The family was not willing to lose that kind of valuable time. These started arranging search parties themselves, they get friends, only members neighbours. Anyone they can find to start looking in their neighbourhood or anywhere Rachel might have been able to run to by Sunday the thirteenth Gregg. Her boyfriend has flown back in from California to help with the search and word actually gets to somebody in the Texas Rangers who thinks this scenario sounds all wrong which help Damn godlike. Someone is paying attention yeah. Finally, and this person starts putting together a formal search for Rachel like people on foot, eight tvs helicopters, they even get Texas echoes, search involved. The unfortunate piece of this is that because law enforcement didn't get involved until son, There were two days of these informal searches being done that maybe could have altered or destroyed evidence, but not searching for this.
Was a non option, so here they were everyone doing the best they could define Rachel and to bring her home in doing this search. They also start to piece together a timeline Rachel's last movements. Her family last saw her at eight a m when they left the house. There then able to tell that Rachel had taken a call on her cell phone about an hour later it was from her boyfriend Gregg calling from California and what they learn from Gregg is that his call had woken Rachel up. She told her She was gonna go for a morning, run like she did almost every morning she's gonna run in the neighborhood, and then she would give him a call back. The records show that this call and it about nine hundred and fifteen, and then Rachel cell phone was never used again, assuming that she left her house shortly after that call police canvas. Neighbourhood to see if any one saw Rachel on her run, they aren't incredibly hopeful of finding good leads, because her area isn't really well.
Populated or travelled in the middle of a work day, and even people were home. Like I mentioned earlier, all of these houses are set pretty far back from the road. Sitting on pre large lot. So if she did run by a house when some was home, the odds of than seeing her were really slim, but they still had to try and good thing they did because they got lucky. This episode is made possible by audible long before podcast I relied on audible exclusively for entertainment. I've been a member since two thousand and seven and I still look forward to my credit every single month, because, with my credit, I get all your books. I get exclusive podcast and the best part is, if I don't like it or couldn't get into the narrator, you can exchange or credit to find something that you really love and the most recent audio book that I use my credit
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or crime junkie. All one word: you can text that two five hundred five hundred after talking to neighbours police find that around ten a m, a couple was out for their daily walk when they A young girl run by based on the description of her hair and the clothing that they saw. This grow wearing police strongly believe that they saw Rachel. This same couple said about twenty minutes. Later she passed them by again. No, they don't recall her being followed by anyone or seeming like she was acting unusual at all. So we know ten twenty. She is alive and well the next
Rating of her is by a woman and her young daughter. They were out working in their yard and they saw Rachel in their cul de sac. She was like stretching before she continues on her run, then at ten forty five Rachel scene again, a neighbour is about to back out of their driveway when they see Rachel coming she's gonna be walking behind their car, so they stop allow heard a pass and she's, probably at this point: cooling down from her run, because not only she walking behind their car but she's. Just at this point about two hundred yards away from her house, that's like point one miles or point one six kilometres for international listeners. That's so close to her house, yet she could probably see it like eyes. She was walking. He was very close and felt very safe, but there's no evidence that she ever made it back inside her house. So in those two hundred yards
her neighbours driveway to her front door. Something happened to her and because we know she was an anywhere around there. We know that some one had to have taken her polices. Logic told them that this was likely done by somebody. She knew in most cases. They said if a crime was done like out opportunity by a stranger. They would have done whatever they wanted to do with her and then left her nearby, but because there was absolutely no thing found around the area, it makes them think that the perpetrator was trying to put distance between men and the scene, so it couldn't be linked back to them. So they started looking at people close to her like her family and her boyfriend. They give a polygraph tagrag, who was still in. Town from california- and it was pretty easy to rule him out since cell phone records- prove that that morning he was in fact in California, talking to her just an hour or two before she went missing.
Next interview, the family and one by one. They pass their polygraph, but there was a glitch on her dad's, the polygraph exam I asked her dad. Do you know where Rachel S and he answered no, but the test showed that it was a lie. What I know it looks superficial But her dad explain later in an interview through tears that he thought deep down. He did know where his daughter was. He believed that she was in. Heaven he didn't believe that she was alive anymore. It had been too long with no contact, so even though he said no, he said in his heart of hearts. He thought he knew where she was the family being cleared as well and as time taken by they had less and less hope of finding Rachel alive. The official search for Rachel ended after a couple days, though family and citizen volunteers continued for weeks the only thing
it came out of the first days of the investigation, were the siting of Rachel running or walking, and then some sightings of Lee Model White be Camaro or Pontiac. Trans AM witnesses said they saw a man driving some said, maybe even to were in the car, and there was even a report of the driver talking to a female jogger. The guy in the car was described as being in his late teens or early twenties, with slick, black hair and a dark complexion and there's actually three different sketches of the sky. All who look drastically diffrent, I'm gonna send them to bread and it never ceases to amaze me how multiple people can see the same thing and I witnessed testimony can just be so flawed. Oh my gosh, all the sketches to a completely different yeah so well, post these on our website. If you guys want to check out the blog, but this is really all they had to go off of know. Some people said that this car was driving a new
de in circles around the neighbourhood and police thought this could be their best lead. So they release this info to the public and get pointed in the direction of lots. Cars that fit this description and one by one. They scratch them off and soon, Two young boys even come forward to tell police that they were playing hooky that day and they were driving in the neighborhood in that kind of car, so police fully that these two kids they check them out. They check out the car and these kids get cleared, but that doesn't mean that they give up on the car citing completely. They still think it could have something to do with her desk. Hearings in addition to this white Camaro or Trans AM whenever they think it is. There was also a report of a white pickup truck in the area that people didn't recognize, but even with descriptions of these vehicles and sketches of these suspects, the lead goes nowhere. Police decide to start looking at other
corrections. There was a lot of construction going on in the neighborhood at the time of Rachel's disappearance and she'd even commented to her mom about some of the workers. Looking at her or cat calling her now police say they tracked down all of the subconscious there is, but wouldn't give any more information than that. Rachel's mom said in our view that many of the workers were undocumented and she felt like, maybe would be hard to like really ever one hundred percent know with certainty who was working on the site that you went missing or if anyone stopped coming to work Can it may always be a question mark for her? But if we go back to polices original theory They thought it was someone Rachel knew her family was cleared, her boyfriend was cleared, but there were some one else in her life. That seemed like a glaring suspect.
When it came to looking for suspects, someone jumped out to the top of the West Rachel had an ex boyfriend that still lived in town in their past relationship was always described as volatile by Rachel's friends, family, while Rachel was at home for winter break. They saw each other at a party and had a Nazi stellar interaction. Apparently they were seen arguing. He was like telling Rachel he loved her and currently without hurry, begging her to get back together with him, but she didn't have any interest in getting back with this guy. She was Gregg. Now she was happy. She had moved on but it seemed that this x couldn't he made another seen while she was home showing up at her house at three o clock in the morning, pounding on her door and Rachel's mom actually opened it to find him completely inebriated begging to talk to Rachel, her mom threatened.
The sheriff on him. If he didn't leave and clearly like all these signs are pointing to the fact that he is an over her, but that isn't motive enough to do something to her right. It's not a good luck, but it's not really prove exactly as us as he looked as many times as Police- probably interviewed him he's a net Robin named a suspect or even a person of interests and still to this day name has not been released to the public. There are so many parts of this case that look fish the man or the men driving around the neighborhood, the multiple suspicious car seen the jilted ex boyfriend construction workers that made her uncomfortable for as many theories as were popping up. There was no solid It aims to lead police in any one direction, so months go by
and then years Rachel's disappearance rocked her family and caused a rift between them that could not be healed. They were each dealing with her disappearance in their own very different way, and it became harder and harder for them to connect and eventually Rachel's parents ended up divorcing, but they still always come together in any effort to help find their daughter and years later in two thousand and six, there is finally a break. In the case. A task force has been put together to re, examine the case, multiple age. These were involved and they were re examining every single file, but as diligently as they are working, it wasn't their work that made the brake. Eventually, the task force was disbanded and six shelves Files were given to one man and one day in August, two thousand and six that one man got a call from an inmate in prison. It was
convicted murderers named Michael more. He said he was responsible for taking and killing Rachel Cook. Now false confessions happen all the time, but this really seem to fit This guy was a career criminal in and out of trouble since the early teens, and now he in jail serving for life terms for the murder, the woman and her unborne baby during a robbery that was just in a neighbouring towns where Rachel's family lived, though police didn't have any physical evidence in Rachel's case, to connect him. His past seem to suggest that this kind of crime is exactly that He would commit just twenty one days before Rachel went missing. He had attempted to kidnap another woman. She had actually pulled in
Her driveway one day after work and Michael pulled up his truck behind her wait. A truck wasn't a truck one of the vehicles spotted in the neighborhood. Yes, so he pulls up this truck behind this woman and strikes up a conversation with her but wall there talking, he tries to grab her right in the street and put her in his truck, but she was actually able to get away and run into her house and when she ran to her house, he ran away the store He tells about what he allegedly did to Rachel is strikingly similar to this attempted abduction and very believable. Two investigators here,
said that he was driving around the neighbourhood actually looking for a house to rob when he spotted Rachel running in almost an instant, he decided he wanted her. So he drove up close behind her got out of his truck, ran up behind her wielding a hammer and struck her in the head multiple times, then he said he put her in his truck drove. To another location where he said he raped her and when he was dying. He wrapped her body in a tarp weighted down with rocks and then threw her into the Bay Police, were convinced of his story and even struck a plea deal for him. They would let him plead guilty and take the death penalty off of the table and in exchange he had to lead police to where he dumped her back
the and where he buried her personal effects. So on November night, Michael, is escorted into a court room to plead now he stands up in front of all Rachel's friends and family. Who have travelled in, had been waiting so long for some kind of closure friends. Family, who are hoping that after today, there finally going to be taken to a Rachel was laid to rest Michael, gets in front of a judge and then does something that makes even the judge do. A double take place. Episode we possible by better help. I think we can all identify at least one thing in our lives and is holding us back from either achieving our goal, or really being able to find happiness. Enjoy. I've talked about at a time in the past, but for me it's anxiety,
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over again. They were so close to answers and then they were ripped away from them. No one knew why he was doing this after time. Passed. Police speculated that Michael was just messing with police and family, but they still consider him to be a person interests either. He got to the finish line and realize he had nothing to gain by talking or he was bored and pray, in and found a new way to victimized people from behind bars in the EU. There's that followed police continue to follow up on Tipp after TAT, led after lean, they ve search a near by lake at least four times looking for remnants of Rachel or suspicious cars. But every time they ve come up empty handed in two thousand and fourteen Rachel's dad passed away. Her mom was there with him.
The end, and one of the last things that she said to him was at least now you'll know: you'll have the answers of what happened to our daughter. Oh my god. It's a hard pill to swallow, but after fifteen years I think her loved ones started to believe that maybe they would never know what happened. But then something crazy happened. A new cold case unit was created in two thousand and sixteen and Rachel's case was one that they were looking at and in April of two thousand and seventeen official said that they found the car linked to Rachel's disappearance in the Dallas Fort Worth area. What's it was in fact a nineteen. Ninety eight white Pontiac Trans am you're kidding no, but wait how? How do they know it's the car? Ok, so here's the deal we know please huh
things back, I'm almost certain right that in the years of their investigation, they must have had a strong idea. What happened to Rachel or like a tipster came for, word license plate number or event or something I don't know, because literally we got nothing at all of those years before two thousand and seventeen all we heard was that, like witnesses saw this car, we were never even too that there might be a transaction tax and then all of a sudden in two thousand and seventeen. They say all this stuff that for he'll like brand new information to someone who's been following the case they say we found the car were shirts, the Carling to her disappearance, because it's connected to three of the four persons of interest. In the case, we who exactly so we don't know, but apparently there's four of them and the police, new a lot more than they were letting I am shocked at how much they were able to keep quiet in this case. Oh my gosh, when they found
car. The sheriff said it is not a dead end and its possible that sixteen year old evidence could be extracted from the vehicle. Now in September they found the current April. Then, in September they announced that they had found the possible presence of blood on the passenger floorboard and on an item on the passenger side door no information has been released since about whether it had been conclusively connected to Rachel through dna testing or, if it didn't or what has he was even done. Like literally we got April, we found it September. We might found blood and then nothing else about the car well and we ve sent us before in cases where, two years after the fact there is dna uncovered or DNA, that's going to be tested and then two or three years go by and we don't hear anything- and I know for at least you and I
We generally assume that it's not an that's right, see, and I don't always think that I think if it's like a perpetrators dna, but if you're looking for a victim's dna is something I think it could very likely be a match. But if a prosecutor was like yet this is great, but it's not enough to take. Someone to try. I can see why they would keep it under wraps and then continue to build a case again, some one or apparently, three or four someone's we for her daddy. I guess no. In June two thousand and eighteen, a large dig was dying connected to Rachel's case, but that unearthed nothing and since then, there having been any new developments. Sheriff's office said that they do not consider the car dead. End like I said, and they will continue to work on the case until they bring Rachel home. I am still like so overwhelmed. Really, you dropped a huge bomb on me and our listeners, I'm honestly having trouble processing the fact that their
a lead at all at it. So recent was an. I have had a lot of time to process it. In researching and writing, and I still don't know how to process at police. Obviously think that, like a Group of people were involved in whatever happened to Rachel, which doesn't feel like any theory that we discussed before, though. Unlike how long have they been on this idea? Let me have no idea so here's the thing I am I was wondering if they have an informant This is such a one. Eighty from everything we ve seen for again. It was like, ten year, even completely cold for agent would not even completely colds, but it's like we do know. The witnesses say they saw this car witnesses says maybe one or two men in the car and then for all of a sudden, them to be like, we found the car and there's three to four persons, have interests so I'm kind of wondering I'm working on this other cases, actually, the one that we might do for our lives show where literally
every direction. Police, foregoing in got totally flipped upside down because in Woman came forward and over night when police had nothing. They just had theories overnight. Police had a person of interests that they could start linking stuff too, and it feels like that's almost what happened like. Maybe someone came forward at that new, something and said: hey look at these three or four guys, and if you look at them, I can lead lead you to the car or if you follow them, you can find the car, but I dont know the cause was found almost two years ago and it doesn't seem like that was enough for them to close the case, to find her police still need extra piece of information, whatever its whoever it comes from to close the case.
Good thinking, for tuna and for another episode? If you want to see pictures related to this case, you can go to our website crime, junkie, podcast, dot com. You can also go there to check out our events page for all of the chances to meet up or see us live link. Tourists. Club where you can get hours and hours about your episodes for just five bucks also be sure to follow us on Instagram, at crime, junkie, podcast and on Twitter at Crabtree Peapod and check Facebook discussion group. Every week we post a discussion posting on Mondays episode and we all get together and talk about it. It's super fun,
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-09.