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Family of Missing Rancher Hopes 'America's Most Wanted' Will Lead to Closure

BATES COUNTY, MO - Friends and family of missing Bates County rancher David Cook are holding out hope for information after his disappearance was featured on FOX's 'America's Most Wanted' on Saturday night.

Cook, who has been missing for over a year, disappeared after a November 2008 meeting about a ranch he managed near Virginia, Missouri. He was supposed to meet with his business partner afterward the meeting but never showed up.

"They couldn't reach him on his cell phone and he didn't show up at work at KCPL," said Judy Transue, Cook's sister. "They knew something was wrong."

After having cattle stolen earlier in 2008, Cook's family immediately suspected foul play.

"He wouldn't have ever left on his own, I'm certain of that," said Transue, who says that she knows in her heart that he won't be joining them for Christmas for the second year.

"It's not easy to accept that," said Transue. "I feel like he's not with us anymore, and he's hopefully in heaven."

Transue says that she and her family have had a very difficult year, but she is in good spirits because of the America's Most Wanted profile of her brother's case. But if the show doesn't turn up any new leads, Transue says that she'll be ready for the next move.

"We're going to solve this, sooner or later," said Transue. "Its going to get solved and the information is going to come out and we're going to know what happened."

The reward is up to $100,000 for tips that lead to David Cook. If you have any information on the case, please call police or America's Most Wanted at 1-800-Crime-TV.

Posted - 12/04/2009 07:23pm
Americas Most Wanted Update
David's missing person story is scheduled to be on the America's Most Wanted show December 12th, 2009 at 8 p.m . central time on the FOX network.

You can find David Cook's webpage on the America's Most Wanted website at

Posted - 12/01/2009 06:00pm
News Xpress Article


Click here to view or download this article in PDF format
KMBC's Martin Augustine talks with the sister of David Cook, a Bates County man who has been missing for a year.

Family Marks Anniversary Of Man's Disappearance

David Cook Disappeared From Bates County Home

POSTED: 8:42 pm CST November 19, 2009
UPDATED: 11:11 pm CST November 19, 2009

It has been a year since David Cook disappeared from his Bates County home.

Missouri Highway Patrol troopers said there are few clues about what happened to him.Judy Transue, Cook's sister, said she knew her brother was in trouble on Nov. 19, 2008, because he wouldn't answer his cell phone."David was always available on his phone -- didn't matter what he was doing. If he was working cattle, he would answer his phone," Transue told KMBC's Martin Augustine. Transue said if her brother had been hurt on his ranch, he would have tried calling someone.But for a year, she hasn't heard anything from him.Since then, Transue has been compiling a collection of photographs and accounts of her brother's disappearance in hopes that someone will remember a clue."There's times, you know, you might have a little bit of hope that things might resolve themselves," Transue said.It's believed Cook had been in his home on his ranch. His money clip, glasses, a cap and his cell phone are also gone, as if he'd gone somewhere. However, his two pickup trucks were found parked in the usual spots on the ranch.It's a mystery, but Transue said she understands the odds of him being found alive."He's dead. I'm certain of that … We've accepted that he's gone," Transue said. "The part we don't know, the unknown part, is what happened to him and who did this. That's the hard part."Transue and her six siblings are hoping for more tips. There is a $100,000 reward for information in the case.Anyone with information can call the Missouri Highway Patrol at 816-822-0800 or the Crime Stoppers TIPS Hot Line at 816-474-TIPS.

To view the news video, follow this link

Posted - 11/19/2009 06:00pm
Family of Missing Bates Co. Man Not Giving Up

Family of Missing Bates Co. Man Not Giving Up

AMSTERDAM, Mo. - David Cook was last seen on Nov. 18 2008 at the Kansas City Power & Light plant in LaCygne, Kan.  He worked there for 33 years.

When the 55-year-old didn't turn up to a meeting on his ranch in Bates County the next morning, his friends and family started to worry.  Cook lived and worked on Sterling Ranch.  His glasses, cell phone and money clip were found inside his home.  He was nowhere to be found.

Just days after Cook went missing, about 100 people from the community organized a search around his ranch.  Some walked, others rode on ATVs or horses.  There are 10,000 acres of land around his ranch and 30 to 40 bodies of water including lakes and mining pits.

This summer, another search, using underwater cameras and sonar equipment turned up nothing.

The Missouri State Highway Patrols' Division of Drug and Crime Control is now heading up the case. 

Cook's family doesn't think he would leave on his own.  They believe someone is behind his disappearance.  They are offering a $100,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

Information can be directed to (816) 622-0800.

Cook's case will be featured on America's Most Wanted on Dec. 12.

Posted - 11/19/2009 06:00pm
Search for missing man continues

Search for missing man continues


It was one year ago, November 19th, that David Cook was last seen. There is still no explanation as to what happened to him, but one thing the family is certain about is that David had cattle stolen from his property near Virginia, MO between June and November 2008 when he went missing. They believe he had cattle stolen from other locations as well.

The most recent development is that David’s story is scheduled to air on the America’s Most Wanted TV show on December 12, 2009. The show is on Saturday nights at 9/8c on the FOX network. David’s Missing Persons web page on the America’s Most Wanted website will be updated soon with more current information.

The reward is now $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or person(s) responsible for David’s disappearance.

Luck will run out for those responsible for David’s disappearance as this puzzle is completed, and you may hold the one piece still remaining. We need your help. If you know anything about what might have happened to David, please call the Missouri State Highway Patrol at 816-622-0800.

Posted - 08/14/2009 05:00pm
Cook Reward Raised to $100,000
Click the link below to view or download the article.

/home/finddavidcook/.blogs/post10147/News%20Xpress%208-14-09.pdf News Xpress 8-14-09.pdf  7.69 MB  12/10/2009 21:49

Posted - 08/08/2009 05:00pm
Search Resumes for Missing Bates County Man

Search Resumes for Missing Bates County Man

AMSTERDAM, Mo. – Dozens of volunteers today resumed the search for David Cook, missing from his rural Bates County home since November.

Searchers fanned out today on foot, on ATV’s, and in boats, looking for the 55-year-old man who vanished last Fall, leaving his vehicles, wallet and glasses at home.

A Texas company, Equusearch, is now involved in the search effort. The Missouri Highway Patrol has been investigating the mysterious disappearance, along with Bates County Sheriff’s officers.

Posted - 08/07/2009 05:00pm
Missing Bates Co. Man Gets National Attention
Missing Bates Co. Man Gets National Attention
Reported by: Ryan Kath
Last Update: 8:10 am

AMSTERDAM, Mo – A nationally-recognized search team is providing renewed hope for the family of David Cook, a Bates County man who has been missing since November.

Over the weekend, the Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team arrived in Amsterdam, Mo. Cook was last seen at the sprawling 10,000 acre ranch before he disappeared without a trace.

The non-profit group is led by Tim Miller. His daughter, Laura, was abducted and murdered in 1984. Miller and more than 1,000 volunteers now make it their mission to end missing person cases across the nation.

“I was excited when I heard they were coming,” said Judy Transue, Cook’s sister. “It’s people with fresh ideas and fresh eyes looking into the situation.”

Using sophisticated underwater cameras and other sonar equipment, team members have already looked for any sign of Cook in the vast piece of land. It is an area roughly five times the size of downtown Kansas City.

When Cook went missing in November, there were no signs of a struggle inside his house. His pickup trucks, keys and wallet were all left behind. The only things missing were his cell phone, glasses and money clip.

Authorities do not have any suspects. Relatives said Cook had some volatile situations over the years. He once received death threats after testifying in a federal fraud case, according to family members.

“There were some rough people around there. There was some conflict,” said Transue. “We believe foul play was involved, but other than that, we don’t have any explanation.”

Cook’s sister just hopes the Equusearch team can finally end the speculation about the KCP&L worker and hard-working rancher. The team will continue its search on Monday.

“He was such an easy-going, fun guy to be around,” she said.

A reward in Cook’s case is now at $100,000. Anyone with information should contact the Missouri Highway Patrol or Bates County Sheriff’s Department.

AMSTERDAM, MO - High-tech help will continue to help in the search for missing Bates County rancher David Cook.

Last week, the Texas group Equusearch arrived to help in the search for the man who's been missing for nine months. This week, the group will launch unmanned drones over Cook's ranch hoping to spot something that will lead them to him.

David Cook, 55, disappeared from his home in New Amsterdam, Missouri, last November. Cook's family think he died under violent circumstances. Before he went missing, someone stole 100 head of cattle off his ranch.

Posted - 08/07/2009 05:00pm
Volunteers Help Search For Missing Man Case
Another search is under way in the case of David Cook, who has been missing from his Bates County home since November.

Cook, 55, disappeared from his farm near Amsterdam, Mo. Only his wallet and glasses were found in his home.This week, the company Texas Equusearch began scouring the farm. They specialize in searching for missing people. The company is volunteering its services.Several months ago, Cook's family asked Texas Equusearch to get involved in the case.The search will continue over the weekend.

Posted - 02/01/2009 06:00pm
Cops: Quarries May Hold The Answer
Equasearch_boat_CTE.jpgProfessional diver's have searched the numerous quarries on David's ranch, but have not found anything to suggest foul play.

Extensive searches for David, conducted by Missouri authorities, friends, and family have yielded no conclusive evidence.

Authorities and family alike suspect the worst: that foul play must have been involved.

More disturbing, David’s whereabouts are a complete mystery, although authorities have a hunch he may still be somewhere in the small town of Amsterdam, Mo.

Over the years, Amsterdam's landscape has been ravaged by large-scale strip mining, in which large mineral deposits are exposed by removing layers of earth. Once all the resources have been extracted, the site is abandoned, resulting in a massive open quarry.

Recently, these quarries have become a major focus in the search for David Cook.

Suspecting the worst, police think David may have been murdered and dumped in one of these quarries.

The pits are difficult to search. Many of the quarries are nearly 100 feet deep, filled with water, extremely dark, and murky.

Adding to the painstaking search is the fact that there are at least ten quarries on the 8,000 acre ranch David managed.

Despite discouraging results, the search for David persists, and now his family has turned to America’s Most Wanted for help.

If you know anything about the disappearance of David Cook, call our hotline at 1-800-CRIME-TV.

Posted - 01/30/2009 06:00pm
Missing Man's Family To Auction His Things
Missing Man's Family To Auction His Things

Family Fears Bates County Man Won't Need Farm Equipment

POSTED: 6:46 pm CST January 30, 2009
UPDATED: 7:05 pm CST January 30, 2009

PASSAIC, Mo. -- A man vanished without a trace and hasn't been seen for two months, and his family has to auction off his things.They're selling David Cook's farm equipment that his family fears he'll never need again.The auction is Saturday at the MO/KAN sale barn in Passaic. Jim Hertzog will be the auctioneer."It's really pretty tough," Hertzog said. "Dave was truly a gentleman and a very good friend of ours." Cook was the caretaker on an Amsterdam, Mo., ranch. He also worked at the KCP&L Power Plant at LaCygne, Kan.On the morning of Nov. 19, Cook told a friend he had an appointment to meet someone. He hasn't been heard from since.When family and friends went to his house, his pickup truck was sitting in the driveway and his wallet was inside the house. The only things missing were his cell phone and glasses.They immediately began searching the large rural area around the house without success. From the beginning, his family has suspected foul play. They said he's not the kind to disappear on his own."He had no reason to. He had a lot going for him," said Judy Transue, his sister.Transue said he has a daughter in college and lots of friends. He loved caring for the animals, including cattle and buffalo, on the large range where he worked."He would walk up to them and feed them. He took great pride in that, of how he tamed them and how he could get them to do that," Transue said.She holds out a glimmer of hope her brother is still alive, but she would really like to know what happened to him."Your mind wanders about every day," Transue said. "Could it have been this, could it have been that? Could he be here, could he be there? What happened?"Cook's family and friends are so anxious for this mystery to be solved they are offering an $80,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.They urged anyone with any information to call the Bates County Sheriff's Department or the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Families Search For Missing Loved Ones
Renee Pernice, David Cook Missing From Metro Area

POSTED: 10:02 pm CST January 5, 2009
UPDATED: 10:31 pm CST January 5, 2009

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Several families in the greater metro area are searching for missing loved ones.

Renee Pernice, 35, is a mother from northeast Kansas City who hasn't been seen since Friday morning. She has two children and a stepchild. She has been a nursing instructor at St. Luke's College for 18 months. The college dean said everyone is deeply concerned.

Pernice's relatives and friends are hoping anyone who has seen her will call police.

David Cook is another person missing from the metro area. Cook vanished from his Bates County home in November.

"We have lots of questions, and not as many answers as we wish we did," said Judy Transue, Cook's sister.

Friends and relatives have searched hundreds of acres of rural Missouri where Cook raised cattle, but haven't found any information.

"It's hard not to think about it. I think about conversations we've had, people he's talked about, situations he's been in. Yeah, it's hard not to think about it," Transue told KMBC's Martin Augustine.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol is in charge of the Cook case. There is an $80,000 reward for information.

Anyone with information in the case can call the Crime Stoppers TIPS hot line at 816-474-TIPS, the Missouri Highway Patrol at 816-622-0800 or the Bates County Sheriff's Office at 660-679-3232.

Posted - 01/01/2009 06:00pm
What Really Happened To David Cook?
Power_Plant_CTE_1.jpgThis is the power plant where David Cook was last seen by a reliable source.

The oldest of seven siblings, David always found himself relying on responsibility and hard-work, and his family says he carried this mentality into his adult years.

David and his siblings grew up on a ranch, and their father grew up a rancher.

David, as a child, spent hours upon hours helping his father on the farm, and, as a result, David developed an undying adoration and dedication towards ranching and all that accompanied it.

“This was his joy. He loved it,” says his sister, Judy.

Friends and family all say David was too reliable, too invested in his work, and too much in love with his land and the animals that lived on it to simply wander off and start anew.

“A friendly, easy-going, giving, mild-mannered jokester, [David] didn’t have enemies,” Judy told us.

David didn’t have any vices either. Drugs, alcohol, gambling or anything of that nature, cops say, ever plagued David.

“If anything,” Judy says, “David was a workaholic.”

Nothing other than work occupied his life and, according to his family, David wouldn’t have it any other way.

So what happened to David? There are many questions revolving around his disappearance, and police and family are desperately searching for any information that might lead to the David's recovery.

Sergeant Greg Martin of the Missouri Highway Patrol believes his department may have unveiled some possible motives, but there is no evidence to support any of them.

One possible motive revolves around cattle theft.

“Cattle theft is a way bigger problem than people realize,” Sgt. Martin says.

Posted - 12/27/2008 06:00pm
Rancher gone, mystery remains
Saturday, December 27, 2008 | 9:03 p.m. CST

PASSAIC — The auctioneer sat above the cattle ring and told the crowd what a great herd they were getting ready to bid on: well-tended, top-notch cows and performance-tested bulls.

“They certainly would not be for sale if not for the circumstances,” auctioneer Jim Hertzog said into the microphone.

His voice broke with those words, and he held up a hand: “Give me a second.”

The arena crowd sat stone quiet. Hertzog, wearing a big cowboy hat, took a sip of water.

Then, with game face restored, he started the sale: “All right, boys, let’s take a look at 'em.”

The roundup was bitterly cold, on hands and heart.

With blowing snow, a north wind and temperatures in the teens, workers, including friends and family, herded nearly a thousand head of David Cook’s cattle off the Sterling Ranch in Bates County last week and took them to the Mokan Livestock Market in nearby Passaic, about 50 miles south of Kansas City. Cook kept the cattle on the 10,000-acre ranch, which he managed.

A mystery at the ranch

The ad for last weekend’s “Complete Dispersal Sale” described Cook as a knowledgeable and successful rancher for 35 years who always had a top-producing herd.

It doesn’t say the cattle were being sold because Cook, 55, hasn’t been seen since he disappeared from the ranch one day in mid-November.

His billfold was found inside the house. No disarray; no forced entry. His pickup still sat in the driveway.

“Nobody knows what happened. ... He’s just gone,” said Elsie Cash from behind the counter at McBee’s General Store, about a mile east of the ranch. “He used to stop in here all the time, for food and whatnot. Nice fellow.

“People round here sure are wondering what happened.”

The Sterling Ranch is between the Kansas City Power & Light generating plant at La Cygne, Kan., and Amsterdam, Mo. It’s rough land — a lot of pasture but with brushy hills and strip pits from old mining operations.

The rugged terrain hampered searches by law enforcement and a hundred volunteers.

“Brush is so thick in some places we couldn’t ride a horse through it,” said Judy Transue, Cook’s sister.

The search for answers

After more than a month of diminishing hope, she and others now believe someone took him out of the house and killed him. Over the years, Cook was involved in several volatile situations, including one in which he received death threats for testifying in a federal fraud case, family members and others said.

His daughter asked that her name not be used for this article for fear that she also could be in danger.

She is in her final year of medical school. During the preparation for the auction, she also was taking finals.

“It’s like something out of a movie,” she said this week. “It’s just overwhelming. I’m an only child, so I don’t have siblings to help me with all this. ...

“We’re trying to do what’s right. But if my dad should come back, it would be so sad to him that we’ve sold all his cattle.”

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s drug and crime control division recently took over the investigation from a local task force. Sgt. Dan Green would say only that investigators are following leads.

“We can’t comment further than that at this time,” Green said.

A reward is up to $80,000.

Transue sat in her Lenexa dining room recently and said the case is difficult because Cook knew so many people from the ranch, cattle business and the power plant, where he also worked. A hunting lodge on the property brought strangers to the ranch.

Her head began to shake as soon as she saw a question coming that maybe her brother just took off ... needed time alone ... had to get away ... went to Europe ... ran off with a woman.

“No way,” she said. Then with a sad smile she added, “If nothing else, David would never leave his cows.”

'What I'll remember about David'

David Cook grew up the oldest of seven children in a farm family near Ballard. He always loved the outdoors and wildlife.

He tried college for a while but eventually quit and went to work. Ranching was what he wanted. He got married and had a daughter. Awhile back, he and his wife divorced. She remains on good terms with his family.

Those who knew him say he didn’t do drugs, gamble, chase married women or have money problems. He was honest, hard-working and well liked.

Hertzog, the auctioneer and one of the owners of the Mokan Livestock Market, met Cook 16 years ago.

“He was a good friend,” Hertzog said. “He and his family are good people. He was very knowledgeable about cattle. The guy worked all the time. Running that ranch and then working at the power plant — he was always going on about three hours of sleep. I don’t know how he did it.

“And here’s the thing: He was always in a good mood, friendly as could be. Take a dull moment, and make it bright. That’s what I’ll remember about David.”

Transue tells this story about her brother:

A few years back, she told him she wanted a colt to raise for riding and asked him to help find one. He did that and then offered to keep the animal at the ranch. Over time, he helped her break the animal.

One day when he finally got a saddle on the horse, he put his boot in the stirrup and was ready to swing himself up when he stopped and glanced at his sister.

He smiled, pulled his boot free and motioned to her — “Get up there.”

“He knew I wanted to be first,” Transue said.

Remembering the moment, she cried.

A family's pain

Mike Cook, a brother, was sitting in an office at Mokan Livestock Market before the start of the auction when the door opened and an employee stuck his head in.

“Mike, we’re getting ready to start,” the man said. “Jim wants to know if you want to say something first.”

Cook shook his head. “I can’t.”

The man nodded and closed the door.

“I don’t even know if I want to go out there because I’ll probably lose it when Jim talks about David,” Cook said.

The past month has been hard on this family. First there was the disappearance and intense search. Then came the realization that David Cook probably was not coming back and that something had to be done with his cattle.

The time of year makes it even harder. For years, 25 to 30 members of the Cook family gathered to celebrate Christmas at the hunting lodge on Sterling Ranch. They would ride horses, and David would show the children the buffalo and elk that lived there. He often sent each child home with a cow’s tooth or set of horns.

“Things are a lot different for all of us this Christmas,” Mike Cook said.

Especially for their father, Millard Cook, 83, who lives in a nursing home in Butler. Not long after his oldest son disappeared, he told Transue: “Find David.”

She took his hand.

“We’re trying, Dad. We’re trying.”

Posted - 11/24/2008 06:00pm
Hundreds Search For Missing Man
Reported by: Sloane Heller
Posted by: Mike Markewinski
Last Update: 11/24/2008 7:25 am

Dozens spent Sunday searching rural southern Missouri on horseback and ATV. David Cook, a rancher and KCP&L employee has been missing since Wednesday.

Sunday's search was the first organized effort for the 55-year-old man from Bates County.

Cook was last seen on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at his home in the Amoret/Amsterdam area.

"I like there is a very likely possibility foul play was involved. This isn't David," said Judy Transue, David's sister.

Cook's trucks, keys and wallet were left behind. His cell phone, glasses and money clip are all gone.

"As long as there is a thread of hope I have to hang onto that. I still have to use the present tense," said David's girlfriend Laurie.

The all out search has covered thousands of acres.

Friends, family, volunteers and law enforcement are doing what they can. They've turned to canines and helicopters.

Laurie says Cook is her world.

"He always had a smile on his face, he's just a prince, a prince of a man," said Laurie.

According to family, Cook has a lot of friends and contacts in the area. They say he is well respected by nearly everyone.

"I was concerned about some interactions he had with some individuals that was just my instinct but of course he's a strong man and thought I was over reacting."

Officials don't have any suspects. The reward for anyone that helps find Cook is $50,000.

Anyone with information regarding Cook should contact the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS or the Bates County Sheriff Department at (660) 679-3232.
Search Continues for David Cook, Missing Since Wednesday

Last Edited: Sunday, 23 Nov 2008, 5:21 PM CST
Created: Friday, 21 Nov 2008, 3:12 PM CST
David Cook, 55, has been missing since Nov. 19, 2008, from Bates County, Missouri.

AMSTERDAM, Mo. -- The search continues for a Southwest Missouri man who family members say just vanished into thin air. Since last Wednesday, no one has seen or heard from 55-year-old David Cook of Amsterdam, Mo.

A search party gathered on Sunday in Bates County to search for the missing man friends call a "good ol' boy." They arrived on horseback, on four wheelers, and on foot.

One of them was David Cook's girlfriend. She said since David went missing from his home on Wednesday, she's been living a nightmare.

"It's one of those things where your heart breaks when you see someone else on TV," she said. "You're so thankful for those you love that are safe and then one morning you wake up, you see your loved one on the news."

For now, the news is not good. Members of David Cook's family said they suspect foul play. They said it's just not in David's nature to leave without a trace. Cook's wallet and cars were at his home, but there was no sign of forced entry or foul play. His phone was last used on Tuesday. Police said they're not sure where to start looking.

"He's always been to work on time," one person said. "He calls in if he's gonna miss, be sick, and all of a sudden...gone!"

Nearly 100 people joined in the search on Sunday, a search that covered the nearly 5,000 acres of thick brush on the Sterling Ranch that David Cook manages. What's more, the reward money has increased to $50,000. For now, though, life goes on at the ranch, but all are hoping that once the dust settles, they'll be able to bring David Cook home.

Bob Stepanich, FOX 4 News