Retired homicide investigators working to solve Williamson Co.'s unsolved murders

KVUE Defenders Exclusive: Rachel Cookie Memorial Run

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TEXAS - In January of 2002, 19-year-old Rachel Cooke went jogging in her parent's neighborhood in the North Lake Subdivision northeast of Georgetown.

Several people, including construction crews and other joggers, saw her running. A neighbor saw her walking to cool down at around 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. on Neches Trail. Since then, her whereabouts have been a mystery

"I get up with it, I go to bed with it, I even dream about it," Janet Cooke, Rachel's mother, said.

The sheriff of Williamson County is working to find out what happened to her. And the missing persons case of Cooke is among many cases that have grown cold in the county, some dating back nearly four decades. So Sheriff Robert Chody, four months into taking office, has told KVUE's Tony Plohetski that he's forming a new team to help solve them.

Chody is assembling a team of retired homicide investigators -- a volunteer squad of sorts -- from other agencies such as the Austin Police Department.

Together, they will try to figure out what happened to Cooke and others whose families have waited years for answers.

Those unsolved crimes also include the 1988 murder of laundromat owner S.E. Richey, who was attacked in his driveway near the community of Shiloh in what investigators think was a robbery.

"It gets new eyes on these cases that have had the eyes of detectives who are overworked already," Chody said.

Janet Cooke is hopeful a fresh sets of eyes could help find what happened to her daughter. She said she's at peace, though -- that she'll one day she'll get an answer.

"I know that should I not find it on this earth, I will find it," she said. "The good Lord is going to let me know."

The members of the investigative team will work on a volunteer basis. Instead of a salary, they'll serve as reservists. So the sheriff will agree to help them maintain their law enforcement license by providing the required signature that they are currently working for a law enforcement agency.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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