GONE COLD | Arrest made in 13-year-old Gwinnett County cold case

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WATCH | See the evidence found with her remains

WATCH | The Dumping Grounds

Cierra Burk sat down with 11Alive in 2017 to talk about the case and her mother.

The 28-year-old still remembers swapping clothes with her mom and hearing her cheer the loudest from the stands when she was on the basketball court.

She can still hear her voice, and she thinks back to the time when her mom disappeared.

Burk, then-16, said her mom kept her fear hidden from her and her brother. But, she did share her concerns with her older sister, Roberta Adams.

“She told her, if anything happens to me, he did it,” she said, referring to Cook.

Days leading up to her disappearance, police responded to her apartment numerous times for domestic calls between her and Cook. And just one day before she disappeared, she had filed a restraining order against him.

When Leslie went missing, Burk knew something wasn’t right. The then-high school junior, who at the time lived with her grandmother, said she talked to her mom on the phone on certain days.

But the phone remained silent.

“At first, I just used to think she was scared, so she didn’t come around,” she said, letting out a deep sigh, and then burying her face into her hands and sobbing. “But then birthdays past and holidays past and I never heard from her.”

She had always clung to hope until they told her that they found a body, and confirmed to her that it was her mom.

“She died trying to hide,” Burk said of her mom who loved life and living it. “She didn’t go out without a fight, cuz she’s a fighter and I know she fought back.”

While the GBI identified her remains eight years ago, that’s only one piece of her puzzle. Her killer’s identity remained a mystery.

Cook was arrested in 2005 for violating the protection order and was charged with aggravated stalking. He denied any involvement with her disappearance, during an interview in 2005 with 11Alive.

Last year, with the case more than a decade old, Gwinnett County Police Sgt. John Richter told 11Alive the cold case was not dead.

In fact, he had re-opened the case.

The veteran homicide detective is giving the case a fresh set of eyes and a large dose of sheer determination to solve it—re-interviewing witnesses and sifting through evidence that could lead him to her killer.

>>>MORE | The Dumping Grounds

The cold case unit continued to monitor the progress of the investigation. Detectives and the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office conducted more interviews and re-examined the evidence. With that, they were able to establish probable cause for Cook’s arrest.

On Sept. 28, 2018, a warrant was obtained for Cook, charging him with murder.

On Oct. 4, 2018, Cook was located on I-75 North in Henry County by Gwinnett County Cold Case detectives. With the assistance of the Georgia State Patrol and Henry County Police, a traffic stop was conducted and Cook was taken into custody without incident.

He was transported to the Gwinnett County Jail where he is being held without bond.

For more of Georgia’s cold cases, visit 11Alive’s Cold Case page.

Gone Cold is an ongoing series, where 11Alive Digital Journalist Jessica Noll investigates some of the most infamous and lesser-known cold cases in Georgia. She’s digging for answers for the still-grieving families who long for them, and for the victims who have never found their justice.

CONTACT THE REPORTER |

Jessica Noll is a multimedia journalist, who focuses on in-depth, investigative crime/justice reports for 11Alive’s digital platforms. Follow her on Twitter @JNJournalist and like her on Facebook to keep up with her latest work. If you have a tip or story idea, email her at [email protected] or call, text at (404) 664-3634.

Join our “Gone ColdFacebook group and join our discussions about cases like these, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/gonecold/ and follow us on Twitter: @11AliveGoneCold.

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