Georgetown in Central Texas is a small place with a population of about 70,000 people. Back on 10th January 2002 a young woman left the family home to go for a run.
Rachel Cooke was only 19 years old and had made her home in California but the Christmas holidays had brought her home and she was planning on a morning alone. She spoke to her boyfriend just after 9 am. The couple shared their life on the west coast. They had both visited her family during the festive season but he had had to return ahead of Ms Cooke for work reasons.
She told him she would be going for an habitual run soon after they got off the phone. That afternoon the young lady planned on spending the time with her father who was going to come home early from his job. They had arranged to go shopping together.
She was seen by several people who knew her. Witnesses say she had probably finished her exercise and was walking back towards her house, cooling down, when she disappeared. Her folks lived in the North Lake Subdivision. I had to pull together a few references to figure out where this was. It appears to be the area which is dead centre in the image below.
This next image is a street shot that shows the terrain Ms Cooke was last seen in.
Her normal route would be about six miles long and it is reported she was seen between 11.00 am and 11.30 am on Neches Trail. This is a well maintained road though once again it is tree lined and sparsely housed. Sadly a familiar layout we come across often on this website.
One clumsy feature is that Ms Cooke is believed to have started her run at 09.30 am. I am no runner but I know plenty who are. Two hours would be a crawl pace for a woman as fit as Ms Cooke. One of these times is probably wrong.
The Neches Trail sighting would mean she was very close to her parent’s home. By 3 pm it was realised she was not accounted for and police were called. Given the circumstances a gentle search was started straight away.
Ms Cooke was wearing running gear consisting of grey shorts or sweatpants, a grey shirt and was likely carrying a yellow Sony Walkman cassette player. She has never been found.
Originally several vehicles and people were seen that the cops wanted to talk to. I notice in later accounts less emphasis has been placed on those. In 2021 the Williamson County cops were asking for information about an associate of Ms Cooke’s.
This person was said to have moved around many places in Texas since and may be involved in the livestock industry. They did not say who it was but they hinted that someone had said he may well know about Ms Cooke’s disappearance. The FBI are involved and a reward is offered for the right information.
Mr Cooke ( father) came under suspicion early on because he failed a polygraph test. In fact he failed one question ‘ do you know where Rachel is ?’
He answered ‘no’. So he was answering a straight question but according to the family he did by that time think she was dead. In his faith he believed she would be in heaven. No matter what you or I might think of religious faith those that believe can believe it fully. So in his mind he did and did not know where his daughter was. Other enquiries also exonerated him. The cops do not think that Robert Cooke had anything to do with this case. He died in 2014 after devoting much of his time to trying to find his daughter and assisting in many other missing person campaigns.
One person did, for awhile, look very likely as a solution. A murderer confessed to assaulting and abducting Ms Cooke. He went as far as working out a plea deal. The family and all involved attended the plea submission in court and then this guy denied it. He said he had been toying with the police and enjoying some small benefits from being interviewed.
His story was he had hit the victim over the head with a hammer and then taken her away. He raped her and killed her before placing her in the sea. He is still a suspect but the police did not stop with him. This hero’s name is Michael Keith Moore, what a guy eh?
Below you will find the documentary I looked at and the FBI page that outlines their appeal in this case.
A few Thoughts About Staying Safe:
There is no judgement to be made about this marvellous young lady. I only write this because I do not like how the modern narrative reassures people, men and women, that if ‘others’ change then such incidents will stop happening.
Ms Cooke was said to have been walking back towards her parent’s home with less than 200 yards to go. She was possibly doing so with ear phones in and music on. These days the number of people using such devices is probably greater. Please don’t do it. If a vehicle had approached her from behind she might not have been aware of the danger until way too late.
If she was not listening to music then it is possible that the car pulled up and she was engaged in some innocent sounding question.
‘Excuse me do you know where John Smith lives?’ That sort of thing. Our instinct is to be helpful so we may lean in toward the speaker. We certainly won’t back away from them unless we are suspicious.
If you exercise outdoors or tend to walk in less built up areas try to keep your senses alert. If a car pulls up. If the driver looks like they want to speak to you, try stepping back slowly. Put a distance of about 12 feet (3 metres) between you and them. What do you care what a stranger makes of this?
That way you have time to react should one or more people jump out of the vehicle. Just doing that might put off a potential attacker.
If you disagree and believe that the modern way is best. If you think men should simply be re educated and anyone should be able to ignore such advice. Please let us respectfully debate it.
I put my years of experience behind the view that you might change some behaviours but the like of the person who took Ms Cooke will laugh at your ideas. Worse, reassuring folk that all might be well if ‘others’ change could make vulnerable people act in a way that increases the danger to them.