WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Monday marks 20 years since Rachel Cooke went for a jog and was never seen or heard from again.
“Hope delayed makes the heart sick,” said Pastor Charlie Turner of River Rock Bible Church, quoting Proverbs 13:20. This was his opening to Cooke’s remembrance ceremony on Sunday.
A guitarist strummed a light melody as a group of Cooke’s loved ones gathered once again. This, all while still seeking answers about her mysterious disappearance.
Imagine living with a gaping hole in your life for 20 years. This is how Rachel Cooke’s family has had to go on, all this time.
“At this point, yes she may be dead, yes she may be alive, we still don’t know folks,” Janet Cooke, Rachel’s mom said. “We’ve got to hang in there and do what we can until we know.”
Since Rachel’s disappearance, so much has happened.
“It was very difficult when Robert– Rachel’s father, my brother–passed away,” Rachel’s aunt, Elaine Hetanhousen said.
In his passing, went with him the promise to keep searching for the truth every single day…So his family picked up where he left off, to keep the hope alive.
“I’m doing on earth what he’s no longer able to do,” Hetanhousen said. “I’m keeping Rachel’s story out there.”
Since 2002, Williamson County said it investigated over 2,000 tips and has looked into more than 200 others in the past two years alone.
Williamson County Sherriff Mike Gleason revealed he was the patrol Sargent on duty when the call came in that Cooke was missing.
Gleason said 20 years later, the case is still evolving, though he admits most of the evidence likely doesn’t exist anymore. He stresses the case won’t be solved unless someone comes forward about what they know.
“Somebody … it’s weighing heavy on their heart, they’ve lived with it too long, or they know someone, or they know something,” Gleason said.
A case now turning two decades old still has a group of people banding together to find answers, more prominently than other cold cases the county manages, according to Gleason.
With every hug is the hope that someone will come forward.
“I can’t tell y’all how much y’all being here after 20 years means to me, it means yes we’re fighting still guys, we’re not giving up,” Janet Cooke, Rachel’s mother said. “And at this point, yes she may be dead, yes she may be alive, we still don’t know folks. We’ve got to hang in there and do what we can until we know. May God give them the strength to come forward, and may god give our detectives the answers to find them.”