Skip to content

The Unsolved Murder of Kelly Cook

Click here to hear the Audio File of this case. And please do not forget to subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review. Positive reviews really help others find our show.

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
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 2019. 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
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.

Liked it? Take a second to support Christine on Patreon!
Published inTrue CrimeUnsolved Murder Files



    • 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!

      • Mel Mel

        Hi I have a couple of men that fit the discription of the picture you have posted. They are the roughly the same age as discribed. And one has a real bad reputation here. Also some one mentioned that she was shot. By a 22. One was found in a ditch by a young boy near that time while he was bottle picking.

        • Christine Christine

          Hi Mel. Thanks for reading and sharing your info. That’s fascinating! Please pass them onto the authorities if you haven’t already. You never know what will be the big break this case needs.

  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.

      • Adam Adam

        James Mitchell DeBardeleben was your perp here.

        This was totally his thing…he did a baby sitter murder in Prince William county Virginia – he lived in PW county so cops there knew of all kinds of dark crimes he did there…

        I can show how he did realtor murder in Canada too – the realtor ruse/murder was his specialty – he left his Dumars cigarettes and realtors wig I. Trunk of her car…

        I called RCMP years ago – they agreed he was very likely the perp. They had never heard of him but they did their own drill down and agreed – it was most likely him

        • Christine Christine

          Hi Adam. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. Interesting! Good job passing your tip on to the police. Hopefully one day they can get enough information to act on it.

          • Adam Adam

            He’s dead – died in prison 2011.

            Because DeBardeleben humiliated the secret service they carefully suppressed the mountain of serial killer crimes he likely perpetrated.

            This crime will never be officially “solved” for these reasons.

            RCMP know as much as they need to now.

    • 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…

      • This case is much like the unsolved Bay Village, Ohio case of Amy Renee Mihaljevic she was a ten-year-old American elementary school student who was kidnapped and murdered in the U.S. state of Ohio in 1989. Her murder case received national attention. Same MO and in both cases the suspect was described as wearing glasses. Both perps enticed young girls via phone calls. Is there a possible link to both cases or is it just coincidence?

        • Christine Christine

          Hi Melissa. I haven’t researched Amy’ case, but I have heard of it. From what you mention, it does seem like there could be a conceivable link. I hope the authorities have already thought of it and ruled it out. Thanks for making that connection, and maybe one of our readers will have something to add. Have a great weekend!

  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.

  7. martha martha

    Hi, just got here from your facebook post today April 15/19. Can you link other comments from your previous FB posting? I”d like to read them. I’m afraid if I had to guess, someone 9(probably more than a few someones) do know who did this, but are protecting their own. Small towns aren’t able to hide a lot of secrets, unless it’s someone from a prominent enough family that no one wants (or dared) to call out. <Possibly a farm family, someone who knows the town and the people well enough to get around (especially without sticking out, there's always people looking out and they'd notice a stranger/ strange vehicle). This makes me think it wasn't an AMerican or US car because people notice the licences, it's remarkable so someone would remember. .

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Martha. Sadly, there is no way to link to other times the article was shared on Facebook so you can easily see the comments. And I tried to tag you in the posts so you would be directed to them, but the Page won’t let me. But I went through the page for you and found these substantive comments on the posts I found on this case:
      “I remember this. So sad for the family.” (I agreed).
      “Could it be that rapist from California that killer they just caught, The Golden State killer?” (I explained why this was not possible)
      “Back then it was common for someone to call because a friend had given your name as a potential babysitter. I lived in the area and was 10 when this happened.” (This was a reader explaining why it was not strange that Kelly’s parents let her go babysit for a stranger. I agreed)

      I think you’re right. If the perpetrator is a local then someone is protecting them. Which I find especially upsetting.

  8. Lola Lola

    It was a guy from Calgary. I just commented on FB. I am Lola, whose comments appear above on this page.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi! I just replied to you on Facebook too. Thanks for sharing this info with the readers who use Facebook too. Your contributions are appreciated!

      • Lola Lola

        Thanks for all that you do!

  9. dorothy marshall dorothy marshall

    this is about Kelly cook could you email me

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Dorthy. If you’d like to email us you can reach us at [email protected] If you have any information about the case, you should also reach out to the police.

  10. Jeremy Jeremy

    This dude looks a lot like the suspect drawing from the American murder of amy mihaljevic, the circumstances were eerily similar , several children were called about getting their parent a gift , all of them turned down with the exception of Amy , and that would result in her body being found in a rural field , both of these cases are just too eerily similar – might not be the same case but maybe the perp got the idea from a case such as this or that one – I don’t know

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Jeremy. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. I don’t think it’s the same perpetrator but you’re right, there are some unnerving similarities. Thanks again!

  11. Bill Bill

    “A full-sized North American car” seems to be a pathetically bad description. I don’t understand why the RCMP don’t have a better description on their page on this crime. Unless there’s a brand in Canada called the “North American,” that description doesn’t tell us the kind of car at all. The description doesn’t tell the color, how many doors, or anything else that would really help people identify the car.

    One of your references says that the car was cream-colored, had Alberta license plates, and was either a Chrysler or GMC made between 1978 and 1981. Technically, GMC only makes trucks, but I assume that the writer meant GM. How the people who came up with that description ruled out the full-sized Ford cars would be interesting to know. How they decided that the car was less than three years old would be interesting as well. Did they somehow recognize the style or was the car just very clean and therefore they assumed that the car was fairly new?

    The description of the guy includes an estimated height and a rough idea of the build. I don’t see how anyone would get that information unless the guy got out of the car. Do we know whether he got out of the car? If he did, we should have more information in the description. I’d like to know how he was dressed. Was he dressed nicely? Was he dressed as someone who was a professional of some kind or did his clothes suggest a more blue collar job and lifestyle. A killer could and might dress differently from his normal look as part of his disguise, but even that could tell people something. People might forget seeing a guy who was medium height and medium build, but if law enforcement mentioned that he was wearing a blue plaid shirt, someone might remember seeing a guy with that kind of shirt. Was his posture good? Did he move athletically? Did he seem to have any kind of injury?

    Your reference mentioned a blue windbreaker that may have had a company emblem or logo. I’d still like to know more and whether that information might point to things about the guy.

    • Christine Christine

      Bill All good questions! There is so much more we could know about this case. I feel like it’s doubtful this case will ever be solved, but I refuse to give up hope. If the police do have more information about this case, for instance some of the answers to your questions, I wish they would just release it given how much time has passed. Any little of details might spark a new lead.

  12. martha maudsley martha maudsley

    Police often leave information unreported, in order to weed out suspects. I suppose that’s the thought process here. Edna Buchanan, a Florida crime reporter, often complained that details that might save further victims were purposely withheld to ‘help’ the investigation. I’m guessing they also could get vehicle information from tire tracks. Whether withholding what they know at this point is helpful or not, I don’t know. I suspect you’re correct and this crime will never be officially solved. It might be interesting to talk to retired detectives and investigators, as well as the locals to see what they suspect but can’t officially say. I know in the Edmonton Tania Murrell case, the lead detective regularly contacted the guy he believed committed the murder, just to let him know that he will always be a suspect. I’m sure every police officer has cases they feel the same about.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Martha. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts. I agree that the police often withhold information for specific reasons. And like you I wonder if that should change after so much time passes. Great idea to reach out to the detectives on the case. They very well may know who did but can’t prove it. I can’t even imagine how frustrating that must be.

  13. martha maudsley martha maudsley

    reddit has a post by someone who claims her friend’s mom was the initial girl phoned to babysit. Bill Christensen went to the library and asked for a sitter, and was given her name. That’s where the descriptions are coming from.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Martha. Happy holidays! Thanks for reading and for passing on the info you saw on reddit.

  14. Laura Laura

    There was also a composite sketch done from a gas station attendant. The suspect wanted to use the pay phone out side to call for a sitter. However, it was broken, so he had to come inside the service station to use the phone. He was unhappy about doing so, so the attendant was able to get a good look at him.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Laura. Thanks for sharing this info! It’s heartbreaking that even with all this he was never found.

  15. Adam Adam

    Cynthia Gastelle vanished from Montgomery County Maryland.

    Her remains were found and later identified in Prince William County Virginia -(found her body roughly 45 minute drive from her home).

    DeBardeleben lived in PW county – he wanted to taunt the secret service by counterfeiting right under their main office.

    Cynthia was responding to a job interview request – though there’s no specific data about the babysitting ruse – when discussed with police and her surviving brother – this possibility remained strong as the perpetrators MO to lure her in.

  16. Martha Martha

    Adam do you believe these cases are related? Or is it just some other interesting cases you’re linking? The MO isn’t very similar, except to be rural AB murders. …

  17. Adam Adam

    Yes they are related because very likely DeBardeleben murdered the realtor Plett in Canada circa 1971…I wanted to provide another case in Canada that very likely was perpetrated by DeBardeleben. His ruse and murder or attempted murder of realtors in this way was documented in the book Cruel Deception. One realtor survived his attack aim Fayetteville NC – he was sketched and likely the perpetrator of the crimes against Dorothy Miller Des Moine Iowa 1969 – see below:

    That helps lend credibility to his murdering realtors before Plett in Canada. He also murdered a realtor in Barrington RI 1971.

    The case of the Cynthia Gastelle Likely was a ruse too ( maybe a babysitter ruse) which involved newspaper ads for employment – job interviews and Gastelle vanishing. Police believed very strongly that this was DeBardeleben. The detective in PW county Virginia where her body was found told me his police force went to the Secret Service to explore their extensive evidence bank to see if they could find evidence to connect him to her murder. This search was inconclusive. DeBardeleben very likely performed this elaborate ruse and murder.

    The sketch in the Kelly case (the case covered on this thread) if at all accurate, likely revealed a disguised DeBardeleben – false teeth – false coke bottle glasses – though it looks very likely to be him as all the pieces fit. The ruse, the phones, the advertisements, the calling the schools, the careful extended planning, the pseudonym, the boldness of the crime – the nature of it being a stranger crime made to look like perp new the victim. It’s all him….

  18. Adam Adam

    DeBardeleben was labeled the worse serial criminal in the history of America.

    After studying many highly elaborate and sophisticated (multi-layered) crimes likely connected to DeBardeleben I very strongly believe he was the perp. Also RCMP went through an extensive research process and agreed he was very likely the perp. They seemed intimidated by the notion of contacting the Secret Service – though they can track his where-abouts because they tracked his passing counterfeit $ as The Mall Passer. Plus they have a treasure trove of his evidence on file so maybe he kept a souvenir from this crime. See article below about counterfeiting and evidence found by Secret Service.

  19. Martha Martha

    Adam, thanks for the links. It’s strange for him to switch from grown even mature women to a young girl under such specific circumstances. Does he have ties to Alberta or Standard?

  20. Adam Adam

    I recommend studying DeBardeleben if you think my crime theory has legs.

    DeBardeleben had wives that were likely terrible abuse victims prior to meeting him.

    My guess is he had marriages in Canada. Through abuse he was Able to make his wives accomplices in his crimes.

    Here was a typical DeBardeleben bank robbery – he likely did this dozens of times as it was well documented as such: he would follow a bank manager home / he would case his home for weeks / he would wait for him to go to work on a typical work day / he would ring the door at his home/ his wife or wife and kids would answer / he’d flash a badge and state that he was a federal bank officer and he needed to ask the wife some questions / she would let him In The home / he’d put a gun to her head / tie her up and gag her / he’d call the bank and get the manager on the phone / he’d tell him I’m at a hotel with your wife – leave $30,000 cash by XYZ car in the parking lot (stolen car for the job) or I will kill your wife / he’d remove the gag and put wife on the phone begging for her life/ once manager went to place $ in the car he manager would see note in the car instructing manager to drive down the road directly as he was being watched the wife would be shot in the head if he deviated from the instruction / the $ would be left at a library where wife would be waiting she’d get the money and book in her own car that was in library parking lot.

    I scoured newspapers all over America and discovered at least a dozen or more such robberies / most successful – some failed.

    In this well documented MO – you see – very careful planning – lethal execution- use of phones – use of notes – use of disguises.

    In this Kelly case you see DeBardeleben likely casing a remote Canadian town with a very meticulously planned crime. His MO allows him to do many premeditated acts that are NOT criminal – so if it his casing and planning go badly he can bail with no legal problems.

    In Kelly’s case – even when he leaves her family home with her in the car he has not committed a crime to any outsider. My guess is he may have let her have access to a phone to ask for help to increase the pain and panic in that town.

    DeBardeleben was known for stating that he committed very elaborate and intricate crimes such that no one could even fathom.

    The Secret Service knew 2 things: 1. That wherever he was passing funny money girls and women were vanishing and or being murdered. 2. They blew it in a 1976 arrest where the Secret Service neglected a mountain of evidence that revealed much darker crimes involving kidnap rape and murder.

    The Secret Service’s neglect caused terrible loss pain and tragedy – including this case. Watch the documentary on him – the Secret Service realized in 1983 that they recaptured DeBardeleben after free him Summer 1978 – in 5 years the trail of horror he left behind was prolific and horrific.

    The Secret Service had hundreds of photos of victims being tortured. They lost a whole storage locker full of this crime scene data. The organization never lifted a finger to inform families of the treasure trove of crime scene info they had gathered including photos of victims. To this day families are left not knowing where the Secret Service May be sitting on irrefutable evidence that their loved one perished at the hands of this monster.

    The secret service never did a thing with his Canada crimes either.

  21. Adam Adam

    Above is a case just after DeBardeleben was sprung from jail in 1978 – the Secret Service neglected the obvious savage sexual crimes DeBardeleben documented himself perpetrating against girls and women.

    The PW county detective told me they connected DeBardeleben to these 4 murders due to a card he filled out with a pseudonym as he was casing the place.

    It was the 17 year old that he was seeking to kidnap. 3 ladies looking for a new home drove up to the trailer at the exact instance he was kidnapping the 17 year old.

    He performed cold blooded assignation of all 4 of them.

  22. Adam Adam

    I realize I made mistakes in my descriptions above of the Karen Scarbrough case: 3 were executed not 4. Two women likely stumbled on DeBardeleben’s attempted kidnapping of Karen Scarbrough.

    The PW detective told me that years after the murders they discovered a hand written card filled out a week earlier by a “customer”. The hand writing on the card was DeBardeleben’s… Detectives went to the prison where he was held at the time and confronted him – as usual he did not say a word to the police.

    The card was filled out on a day Karen Scarbrough was thought to have been training for her job. Do not underestimate DeBardeleben.

    He was known for using listening devices – tapping phones – meticulous planning. He was also an opportunist. He liked real estate agents and though Karen Scarbrough was not an agent she was in a sales trailer designed to help customers buy new homes.

    It was poorly planned by Ryan Homes executives in retrospect – a young attractive girl alone in a trailer at the end of a remote dirt road.

  23. Adam Adam

    Here’s another babysitter ruse. Newspaper ads – phone calls – use of pay phone at a super market – elaborate ruse designed to capture an unsuspecting victim in his web.

    The perp telephoned family and taunted then with desire to collect 10k ransom. Phone calls were recorded. Voice is traceable if it was DeBardeleben or some other known criminal.


    I suspect this too was DeBardeleben – he was an active serial killer at that time. He was later convicted of a kidnapping and rape in New Jersey.

    I think Kelly’s case was an attempt at sophisticating his crime techniques….

    It was irrefutable that DeBardeleben did the same crimes on different people over the years. Bank robberies, counterfeiting, scams on the elderly, impersonating police officers, murdering realtors in different geographical locations and so on…

  24. Adam Adam

    These crimes may be related.

    In these Tulsa ok crimes realtors were one Subset of women victimized. The police connected the crimes in part because of the use of newspaper ads that victims had posted or responded to that directly led to there tragic victimization.

    DeBardeleben was released from prison in Spring of 1978 – exact dates are likely fuzzy or estimated- so he may have been free to commit the Carla Hickman realtor murder.

    The sketch does not look like him but he was known to use disguises. The 5 foot 10 inches and 165ish was his height and weight – so that matches….

    DeBardeleben studied crimes. If an area was hit by certain crimes he could very well piggy back and create more criminal opportunities for himself….

    I wonder if the secret Service tracked him in Tulsa in those times where people were targeted.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Adam. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I agree that Lisa Henderson’s and Patricia Palmer’s were likely related and have published articles on both. I struggle to see a connection to the Kelly Cook case, but it’s an interesting theory for sure. Thanks for giving us all something to think about.

      • corrinna adair corrinna adair

        How about Clifford Olson?

        • Christine Christine

          Given the dates it’s possible but I think unlikely. Olson didn’t travel far and killed all his known victims in the Lower Mainland of BC. He also sold info to the police about where the remains are of his victims were. He wanted money for his family. I expect he would have added Kelly’s name to the list for the extra $10,000 (if I recall that is what he charged per body). Thanks for reading! And for sharing your thoughts.

  25. Delia Delia

    Hello, I am reporting on cold cases and this is the one I found the most interesting because of the fact that it is still unsolved. What I also find riveting is the way this crime was orchestrated, the killer was able to just drive up to Kelly’s house and pick her up without being seen? the mother should have at least said hello to the man. I’m not trying to say the mother was wrong about what she did, but the fact that she didn’t see the killer is probably a little sketchy in my opinion.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Delia. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. This is indeed a fascinating case. There’s nothing that leaves me thinking Kelly’s mom was involved, although yes, it’s unfortunate she didn’t have more information on the man who picked Kelly up. I still hold out hope that one day there will be answers in this case. Thanks again!

  26. Danni Danni

    I just watched the Crime beat episode on Kelly Cook and when I did some meditation, I kept getting the name Tom Withers, and Paul (maybe they were brothers or close) as well as a strong smell of tyres. Maybe this may help.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Danni. Thank you for sharing your insights on the Kelly Cook case with us. Hopefully there are answers in the case soon. Take care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2023 The True Crime Files. All Rights Reserved.

Don’t miss a case! Subscribe to The TCF Newsletter to receive an article roundup, true crime news, and special offers.


Pin It on Pinterest