True Crime from Bel-Air subdivision Athens, TX circa 1973?

Grew up in a middle class subdivision in Athens, Texas with a combination of modest homes and a few slightly more extravagant ones. One of these fancier homes was the home of Dr. Cook. One of those cool 70s split levels that is nearly entirely glass on the two-story part. Very mod. After the crime, the house just seemed creepy. I was always sorta scared to ride my bike past it. My sister babysat the next family that lived there but I have never been inside the house.

That day I remember playing in the front yard, maybe 4 or 5 years old, and being told to immediately get in the house in a way that sounded different than other times my mother called me in. Heard the sirens, saw the emergency vehicles fly by and later, a coroner's vehicle. Was told repeatedly to quit looking out the front window. I don't know, I can see that car but sometimes wonder if I am mixing memories.

Anyway, I learned about what happened several times at different ages but the most interesting version came much later from Kim Boswell, the mother of kids I babysat for forever. She was, for a time, a classmate of Dr. Cook's daughter. Dr. Cook had two children from his first wife Celeste and after a bitter divorce, Celeste and kids moved to Dallas. He then remarried a woman with a young daughter but was continually battling with his ex. Celeste was pretty unstable and pissed as hell to get dumped for a trophy wife.

On the day of the crime, the new wife was downstairs reading to her young daughter when out of a downstairs closet pops crazy Celeste with a butcher knife. She has apparently been hiding in the closet of the house for an unknown amount of time...possibly since early morning when Dr. Cook left for work. Celeste begins stabbing the new wife and they fight and struggle. New wife tells the young daughter (not sure of her age...young enough that her mother was reading to her) to run as far and fast as she can and tell the neighbors she is being attacked. The knife fight then spills out into the front yard.

This is the point I guess that the phone tree started ringing around the neighborhood...my mom recalls our neighbor on the corner calling her telling her to get the kids in the house because Celeste Cook is killing her ex-husband's new wife out on the lawn.

Meanwhile, everyone is trying to reach Dr. Cook at work to warn him. His teenage daughter has called his office earlier trying to tell him that her mom is acting crazy AND didn't pick her up from school and quite possibly has driven down to Athens (70 miles away) to confront him. The doctor's office tells the daughter Dr. Cook has already left for the day and is on his way home. She then tries calling a neighbor at the end of the street to run out and try to stop her dad from going home and again, the neighbor just misses as she sees him drive by. By this point the whole neighborhood is trying to wave him down and get him to not go home. To no avail.

Dr. Cook drives up to the house, Celeste aims a gun and kills him and then turns the gun on herself. The second wife was also dead from knife wounds. I don't know what became of the young kid.

 

- Jill Adams