Family of Hellen Cook mourns after search team finds body

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BUCKNER, Mo. -- Hellen Cook's family members said they got the news they feared the most on Sunday.

That's when the body of the missing 72-year-old Alzheimer's victim was recovered during a search outside Warsaw, Mo. Now, the family is gathering at Cook's home outside Buckner, Mo. to grieve the loss of a woman who'd been missing for nearly a month.

"It's hard," Howard Cook, Hellen's husband, said tearfully. "I wonder so many times was she calling out for me to come get her, and I couldn't."

Howard Cook said his phone rang around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. A specialized search team from St. Louis had located Hellen's body about two hours earlier, identifying her by the clothing and wedding ring she was wearing.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office confirmed a search team found her body on Sunday. Cook had been missing since July 13th. She and Howard Cook had been married for nearly 51 years.

"I think we could sense a relief from stress," Howard Cook said. "The stress of not knowing if she was out there in pain or was she searching for us."

Searchers discovered Cook's remains in an area outside Warsaw that had already been scanned at least twice already, including a massive ground search on July 25th. That inspection uncovered Hellen's shoes and scarf. Howard Cook says Hellen's body was found in a small ravine that even search dogs had overlooked.

"They don't know if she tripped and fell and hit her head or something else happened to cause her to be there," Howard Cook said.

"I have a small bit of peace, knowing we have some answer," Sara Ellis, Cook's granddaughter, said. "At this point, I'm more worried about grandpa and my dad, Michael Cook, her son."

Benton County Sheriff Rick Fajan told FOX 4 News that Cook's remains have been sent to a state medical examiner to determine her precise cause of death and how long they'd been outside that pond waiting to be discovered.

Howard cook said no funeral plans have been made yet for his late wife.

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