As each day passes, Hellen Cook’s family becomes more worried about the wife, mother and friend they describe as a “very strong woman.”
Cook, a 72-year-old from Buckner, was last seen about 11:30 a.m. Saturday near Walnut Grove and Hensley Road in Benton County, which is near Warsaw, Mo. Terri Cook, Hellen’s daughter, said her mother was outside in the garden on the family’s land while her husband, Howard Cook, was mowing the yard.
“When my dad was finished mowing, mom was sitting on the swing,” Terri Cook said. “He went to put the mower away in the barn and was gone 15 to 20 minutes. When he came back, she had disappeared.”
Terri Cook said it appears her mother walked up the driveway from the house and climbed over a gate blocking the road, toward Missouri 7. Dogs tracked Hellen as far as the highway, but then lost the trail. An avid walker who walked as much as seven miles every day, Cook was in excellent physical shape, her daughter said. The family believes Hellen is either heading for her home in Buckner or to the Wal-Mart in Blue Springs, which is one of her favorite places to go.
“The most striking thing about mom is that she is 4 foot 10,” Terri Cook said. “She walks a lot and walks quickly. She works outside and is physically in excellent shape. It is not out of the realm of possibility that she decided to walk home.”
Hellen Cook was wearing jean shorts, a light-colored T-shirt and tennis shoes when she was last seen. She is described as nearly 5-foot tall and 97 pounds with short brown or auburn hair.
Cook suffers from Alzheimer’s and has been without her medication since Saturday. This will cause severe confusion and disorientation. She will likely not recognize her name, nor will she be able to speak in complete sentences.
Hellen’s favorite introduction line to others is, “My name’s Hellen, spelled with 2 L’s. Please don’t shorten it.” This joke is known to bring a smile to her face.
Officials are suspending formal searches until a more solid lead is discovered to direct future efforts. However, the family is continuing to search, driving all probable roads, posting fliers, knocking on doors and asking questions to see if anyone has seen Cook. There was a possible sighting of Cook Wednesday morning in the Waldo neighborhood of Kansas City. The family was working with police to confirm the sighting. In addition, Benton County officials are looking for the driver of a black Ford pickup. A caller said they saw an older woman get into the truck, but authorities cannot confirm it was Cook.
A search party is being planned for Saturday. Volunteers are asked to come to the Blue Springs Assembly of God Church between 8 and 10 a.m. to help search.
Page 2 of 2 - “We have our ups and downs,” Terri Cook said. “We are extremely worried and are becoming more desperate every day.”
Anyone who might have seen Hellen Cook or with information is asked to call the Benton County authorities at 660-438-9555 or dial 911. Information on search efforts can also be found open the family’s Facebook page, “Find Missing Alzheimer’s Woman Hellen Cook.”