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Cook murder still unsolved five years later: $10,000 offered in reward money


October 29 marks the fifth anniversary of the still-unsolved murder of 32-year-old Jessie Wallace Cook, Waŋblí Glešká/Spotted Eagle, of Eagle Butte.

Cook was found unresponsive near the water tower on the corner of Willow Street and Highway 212 in Eagle Butte in the early morning hours of October 29, 2016. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

Earlier this year the FBI increased the reward money in the murder investigation to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators.

Jessie Cook’s body was found early on a Saturday morning. The autopsy showed the cause of death was blunt force injury to the head. Cook’s father, M. Jay Cook, says his son used to hang out with friends around the water tower and went there the night before.

It’s easy for M. Jay to recall the light rain on that cold morning. Although authorities encouraged him not to go, Cook wanted to see where his son was killed. The elder Cook is raising his grandchild, Jessie’s daughter, who is now 15 years old.

According to Cook, there has been a string of violent incidents involving harassment, theft and beatings in the time leading up to the murder of his son.

Cook encourages anyone who has memories of that time that could help to please call the FBI. He says the delay in getting information to the FBI is very upsetting and frustrating.

Cook’s message to those who might know something is, “Don’t be scared. Call the FBI number and relay your information to them. And whoever’s threatening you, I would like to know.”

FBI Public Relations Officer Kevin Smith of the Minneapolis Field Office says the FBI increased the reward money because, “We’re trying to reinvigorate interest in this crime so we can find the perpetrators and get justice for that family.”

Officer Smith says, “It’s a terrible thing, when a family member is killed somehow and there is not closure. We at the FBI want to bring closure to every case to bring peace to the families. And that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

This case has taken longer than usual, causing frustration for the FBI and grief for the family. Officer Smith said some cases take longer because there are few to no witnesses; no one wants to talk about it; or there is rumor and innuendo with little evidence.

Smith emphasized that anyone who might come forward with not be in trouble. They will be helping the case. Any information given will be used appropriately to build the case. The identity of those who help will be shielded appropriately and only used as needed. No piece of information is too small.

If you have information related to the case, please call the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office at (763) 569-8000.

The West River Eagle has established an email for tips related to the case: tipsatwestrivereagle@protonmail.com. The email address is encrypted in order to keep information confidential. Any tips received at will be shared with the FBI.

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