Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Parole Agent Vanessa Cook was found shot to death in a heavily wooded area by children playing near 25th Avenue and Taney Street in Gary after having been abducted and raped by a parolee under her supervision.
She was last seen on Wednesday at 6 pm driving alone in the 5300 block of West 21st Avenue and was reported missing by family members the following day. Her fully-clothed body was found near the roadway and was believed to have been killed elsewhere.
Parole Agent Cook had been shot three times, once under her right eye at close range with a large caliber gun. Her wallet was located earlier Saturday near 21st Avenue and Madison Street with identification and credit cards but without any money.
Her car was seen later in the afternoon being driven near the Dorie Miller Homes at 1722 East 21st Avenue and was reported on fire Sunday afternoon at the entrance to Waldheim Cemetery at 19th Place and Pierce Street.
Three males, who had abducted Parole Agent Cook at gunpoint in her car while in downtown Gary before raping and killing her, were subsequently arrested and charged.
A 19-year-old parolee under her supervision later pleaded guilty to be spared the death penalty. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison for murder and discharged in 2009.
A 17-year-old pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal and a 16-year-old pleaded guilty to rape after they both testified against the shooter.
Parole Agent Cook, from Gary, was assigned to the Gary Parole District handling juvenile cases. She was single and survived by her parents, brother, two sisters, maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother.
• In February 2022, the Gary Parole District office at 569 Tyler Street in Gary was renamed in her honor. District 6 covers Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper, Stark and Benton counties.
• Parole Agent Cook is the second known female law enforcement line of duty death in Indiana.
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Read more on the Gary Parole District office being renamed in her honor in the Post-Tribune.