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The Unsolved Murder of Kelly Cook

The Unsolved Murder of Kelly Cook

 

Case File Overview

 

On April 22, 1981, in the small village of Standard, Alberta, 15-year-old Kelly Cook received a call at 8:20 am inquiring about her babysitting services. The man identified himself as “Bill Christensen” and asked Kelly to babysit for him that night. After checking with her mother, and because “Bill Christensen” was a common name in town, Kelly agreed and made arrangements for the caller to pick her up after dinner.

At 8:30 pm that evening, a full-sized North American car pulled up outside of the Cook home. Kelly said goodbye to her family and entered “Bill’s” vehicle. Kelly was supposed to call home after arriving at “Bill’s” house, but no call came. After a few hours passed, Kelly’s parents contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and a full-scale search was quickly underway. No trace of Kelly or “Bill” was found.

On June 28, 1981, roughly two months after Kelly’s abduction, her body was discovered in the Chin Lake Reservoir near Taber, Alberta. Due to the advanced decomposition of the remains, Kelly had to be identified through dental records. She had been bound with rope, weighted down with cinder blocks, and dumped into the reservoir. Her body was fully clothed, and the autopsy revealed no sign of sexual assault. One article claims that Kelly died of asphyxiation, but this cause of death was not widely reported and doesn’t appear on the RCMP’s case file page.

Kelly’s murder remains unsolved.

Kelly Cook 

Photo of murder victim Kelly Cook
Image source: Royal Canadian Mounted Police

 

Case File Theories

 

Kelly was murdered by “Bill Christensen”

There is only one real suspect in this case: the man who called himself “Bill Christensen” and picked up Kelly to babysit.

At the time of Kelly’s abduction, witnesses described “Bill” as 30–45 years old, which means he’d be in his late-60s to early-80s in 2018. He was also reported as being roughly 5’10″ (178 cm) and having a medium to heavy build and dark hair. At one time the police circulated a sketch of the suspect, although it’s no longer included on the RCMP’s case file page.

Sketch of the suspect

Sketch of Kelly Cook murderer
Image source: Unsolved Murders / Missing People Canada

The RCMP believe that Kelly’s murder was a carefully-planned crime. For instance, on April 18th, a man claiming to be “Bill Christensen” called another girl in town and asked her to babysit. The girl turned him down but passed on Kelly’s number. This demonstrates premeditation and also seems to indicate that Kelly herself was not the specific target. There are also unconfirmed rumours on discussion boards about this case explaining that a man called the local school in March inquiring about a young figure skater in town who was featured in the local paper, received the girl’s number, and that this is the girl who eventually passed on Kelly’s number to “Bill”. If true, this also suggests that the killer planned to abduct a young local girl well in advance of Kelly’s disappearance and subsequent murder.

There is another mind-bending aspect to this case. Was “Bill” someone from Standard? In 1981, the police clearly thought the perpetrator was from the area. RCMP Corporal Craig Green told the press, ”There is no doubt the suspect either lived in the area or frequented it. He knew what Kelly looked like and what her name was. He also knew the town layout and some of the neighbours.” This baffles me, though, for if “Bill” was from Standard or the surrounding area, how could he be so sure that Kelly’s parents wouldn’t recognize him or his vehicle when he picked her up? And why did no one ever identify him from the suspect sketch that was distributed shortly after the crime? If “Bill” was from the area, his decision to abduct and murder a girl so close to home sure was brazen.

Who do you think murdered Kelly?

Kelly’s case is considered one of the most high-profile unsolved murder cases in Alberta, Canada. But after investigating over 2000 possible suspects, the case has stalled. The authorities hope that the public can provide some new information that will heat up this mysterious cold case.

The Standard community and Kelly’s loved ones deserve answers. Kelly’s sister Marnie explained to the media what life is like without Kelly: “I miss what she’d be. I miss that she should be, she should be sitting at the table with us.”

A $100,000 reward is being offered by the Village of Standard for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Kelly’s killer. Anyone with information is asked to call the RCMP at 403-420-4900 or Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477.

Related reading and viewing

Kelly Cook  – Global News video

Kelly Cook – RCMP case file overview

“High profile homicide of Alberta teen Kelly Cook remains unsolved after 35 years”Global News article

“Teenage babysitter lured to her death: 36 years cold”Considering Cold Cases article

Interested in unsolved murder cases? Check out the mysterious murder of Latricia White and the unsolved slaying of Samuel Lottery.

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22 Comments

    • Christine Christine

      Thanks! Not until I was researching images did stumble upon your coverage of the case, and it’s fantastic as per usual! Nothing like some accidental collaboration haha. Happy Friday!

  1. Todd Todd

    Darn, babysitting for somebody you don’t know??? It’s a shame that there is pure evil lingering out there just waiting to do such cruel things… this , most likely will never be solved. Hoping for that one clue to break the case wide open. Anxious to hear more about this case!

    • Christine Christine

      I instinctively felt like you did at first–shocked that parents would let their young teenager babysit for someone they didn’t know. But after reading the comments on this post on my Facebook page it seems like this was a much more common practice than I first thought, especially in a tiny town like Standard and in the 80s. Today, I equate this case with answering a Craigslist ad, going to met a stranger, and being abducted and murdered. How people can prey on the innocent is really disgusting. I think this case will need either a deathbed confession or someone who knows something about the case to come forward (maybe the killer told someone details, etc). Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great Sunday.

    • Rod M Rod M

      Definitely a predator and likely has committed more crimes like this. I’m from the Taber area and folks there believe Kelly was abducted by some one from the USA. The border is not far from chin lake.
      I would be curious to know if a check was done on Americans returning to USA within a few days of her murder? Like vehicles with similar description of vehicle that was used or compare names to known sex offenders now vs names crossing then!
      I was very young when this happened and I remember how upset everyone was at the news of her abduction and eventually her recovery.
      This was a rare event for trusting Albertans of that time. We hope they do find the sicko that did this!

      • Christine Christine

        Hi Rod – Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Good point that this person has more than likely committed similar crimes. That could help catch them. And that they could be from the US. One of ideas I’ve seen recently is that the perpetrator could have been a trucker who travelled often through the area, which could explain how they knew the region well but were never identified. Too bad border controls were not then what they are now. Here’s hoping that they can find this sicko, and that Kelly’s family and Albertans can finally have some answers.

      • Lyne Moore Lyne Moore

        Rod you might be onto something there with the USA boarder crossing..
        Now I am pretty sure they can go back and look at there records in that year and do a check on vehicles leaving the USA and re- entering the USA from March of that yesr through may of that year..
        Surely to goodness they would have those files in an archive some where..
        If the government can go back on fraud, income tax ovations, audits, and such I’m sure they can do this…

  2. Todd Todd

    Great comparison with the craigslist add! That makes a lot of sense! It would be fantastic if someone was able to come forward. It’s very interesting to me in today’s world how many crimes are solved with security cameras… they weren’t around back then…keep up the interesting reads!

    • Christine Christine

      Thanks Todd! Yes, I find it interesting that lots of people don’t like security cameras for privacy reasons, when in reality they help solve countless crimes. Too bad they weren’t around yet at this time. There might have been an entirely different outcome.

  3. Lyne Moore Lyne Moore

    I remember this all to well..
    I was only 13.5 when Kelly was murdered.. My parent were so scared and the surrounding towns like Hussar, where I grew up as a child was put on lock down.. None of us under the age of 17 were aloud out after dark and my parents wouldn’t let me babysit for months afterwards…
    It was so frightening as a young girl and so close to home..
    I have often thought about Kellythrough out the years…
    I only new her briefly through figure skating..
    I hope and pray that they find her killer and that her family and friends and the town of standard can finally be at rest with this whole terrifying ordeal everyone has been affected by..
    Sincerely Lyne…

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Lyne. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. This sure is a tragic case, and I’m sad to hear that it affected your childhood. It’s terrible when crimes are so powerful that they can change the culture of a community. When I was a young kid Clifford Olson was picking up young people off of the streets in the Lower Mainland in BC, Canada, where I’m originally from, and did horrific things to them before he murdered them. My parents also stopped letting me go out, or even outside to play. I’ll never forget the terror flowing like an undercurrent in our town. Like you, I hope that Kelly’s loved ones and the community as a whole can get some answers, including you!

      • Lyne Moore Lyne Moore

        Yes it still haunts me today..
        As a mother of 3 children 2 of them being girls I now understand my parents fear..
        Although I will never understand totally, Kelly parents horrifying ordeal loosing there beautiful young daughter , I can relate to loosing a child.. My son was only 5.5 months old when he suddenly passed away.. It was and still is the most horrific pain any parent can or should ever have to in dear.. I just hope they find the person who did this and maybe, just maybe, a part of my child hood can finally be at peace.. Like everyone who was around during this ordeal I am sure has been affected in some way or another..
        I am still a very over protected mom and now a Nana..

        • Christine Christine

          I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your son. My son, Alex, is 19 and the light of my life. I can’t ever imagine losing him or how a parent would recover from that type of loss. Likely you never fully do. I respect you more than I can say for still managing to be what I’m sure is a great mother to your children and now Nana to your grandkids. No doubt your family admires your resilience and strength. Like you, I can’t imagine what Kelly’s parents went through. Here’s hoping there can be some answers in this case!

          • Russell Osmianski Russell Osmianski

            Never give up hope that this sicko will be caught. You never know what can happen. It’s great that you are spending your valuable time keeping up interest in this case. That’s what it takes. Just like we often hear people say “someone out there knows something.” I pray they come forward.

          • Christine Christine

            Hi Russell. Me too! Kelly’s family deserves at least some sense of closure. I’m happy to help and shine a light on as many unsolved cases as possible. Have a great day!

  4. Lyne Moore Lyne Moore

    I too remember the Clifford Olsen ordeal as well..
    I just hope they find those who have done these horrible crimes and give alk of those who have been affected by these crimes peace of mind for once..

    • Christine Christine

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s past time to get some sense of closure on this case. Here’s hoping continually drawing attention to it will spark something. Take care and have a good week.

  5. Lola Lola

    My Mother who is deceased now, always thought that the killer was a man who lived down the street from her in NE Calgary in the 1960’s. He was a teenager at this time. He was convicted of a rape and murder in Calgary in 1966 or 67 and sent to prison. He was released around 1980. He looked very much like the composite drawing and fit the description of the gas station attendant in appearance and mannerisms. He had also been sighted in the area of Chin around the time Kelly disappeared.

    Unfortunately, RCMP was extremely skeptical of her theory and wanted too much information about her (Mother). She was the one who identified this person the first time he killed (1966 or 67). If she were to blow the whistle on him a second time, she feared retribution, as he knew her whole family. She was terrified that the police would let her name slip to the media. That was coupled with my father not wanting her to get involved. Years later, I brought the information time and again to the RCMP, but am unsure if they ever followed up on it. Nobody in the PD seems to want to take the time to connect the dots, so to speak, even if at least half of the puzzle is completed. That and being skeptical of second hand information as the informant was by then deceased.

    In 2016, the local news did a follow up on Kelly’s case. I was able to locate and speak with Kelly’s sister that was interviewed to tell her our story. I told her that for years, Mom never missed a news broadcast and cut articles out of the newspapers that mentioned anything about Kelly. I feel so badly for these people (Kelly’s family) as they’ll never know what Kelly may have been had she survived.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Lola – Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I’m so sorry that both you and your mother struggled to have the tip heard. How frustrating that must have been! And how brave your mother was. Given how many years it has been, I figure that second hand information might be the only way to get the lead needed to begin an investigation. Your dedication is truly amazing, and no doubt Kelly’s sister appreciated all that you have done. Maybe now that you have passed on the information to her, she might be able to motivate the police to look into it. My heart also goes out to Kelly’s loved ones and the community as a whole. I have no idea how healing can even occur after something this tragic. I look at my son and think about, as you mentioned, not having the opportunity to get to know who he becomes, and my heart aches.

      • Lola Lola

        Thank you very much! Yes, my Mother was a brave woman, I just wish that this case had been solved in her lifetime, both for her sake and the sake of Kelly’s family. Both of our families have been tormented by what this horrible person did. My mother even went as far as to drive to Standard. Her intent was to talk to Kelly’s parents, but she realized that A. She didn’t know exactly where they lived and B. They might brand her as crazy/someone out to torment them further.

        Kelly’s sister thanked me for what I told her, but the poor woman was to the point of “what could I (she) do about it?” I told her that she’d done everything she could. I just wanted her to know that someone did care very much (and still does) but the authorities just didn’t take it seriously and couldn’t tie it together. I told her that I wouldn’t call/bother her again as she’d been through enough in this lifetime.

        • Christine Christine

          Sometimes I get discouraged by how long some cases take to solve. But thankfully most cases are solved early and the police and loved ones rarely seem to stop fighting for justice. Regardless, I’m sad that your mom’s insights didn’t get taken seriously. And thank you for sharing them here. It must have been so hard for your mom to believe she could help but feel powerless to do anything. It must be beyond difficult for Kelly’s sister. I bet for every one person with a good lead there are ten or more crackpots who just want to feel important and don’t really have anything to add. Kudos to you for handling the situation so delicately and putting her feelings first. Your mom would be proud! May you enjoy the rest of your week!

  6. Lola Lola

    Thank you. I’ve turned up the heat on this case since Mom’s death because the POI in the case is nearing the age of 70, if he’s still alive. I have a lot of respect for law enforcement (I don’t envy their job in the least), but sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to look at a case.

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