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.
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
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