GEORGETOWN, Texas - If you've lived in Central Texas in the last 20 years, you've probably heard of the case of 19-year-old Rachel Cooke, who went missing in 2002 and hasn't been heard from or seen since.
More than 20 years later, her loved ones are still trying to find her.
In December 2001, Cooke came home from college for winter break to visit her family in Georgetown. She was a freshman at San Diego Mesa College in California where she wanted to pursue a career in fashion.
"Rachel was a very vivacious, not afraid to try new things kind of girl," said her mother Janet Cooke. "She loved fashion. She loved her friends. And she loved life."
While in California, she met someone, Greg West.
"She was a jokester and hilarious. And, you know, she was like always on," West said. "If I could just say it like that, you know, she just had this insane amount of energy that was just, you know, captivating for sure."
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Even though the two hadn't been dating long, Rachel wanted Greg to meet her family for Christmas.
"I had never really celebrated Christmas before. And so, like, I helped, like, build their fake plastic tree and do all this really Christmas-y things," West said. "It was awesome. It was just a beautiful memory."
After Christmas, the two rang in the New Year with Rachel's family.
"I was here for Christmas and then I stayed a few more days so we could celebrate New Year's together. You know, it was magical. We were on Sixth Street, you know, and she's all of 19 and can't even drink," West said. "So it was just kind of fun to kind of witness all of that crazy nonsense down there."
West then headed back to San Diego while Rachel stayed behind for her cousin's upcoming wedding.
"We were moving in together and then things were just, you know, they were perfect," West said.
Unfortunately, that would never happen because Rachel disappeared on Jan. 10th, 2002 after she had gone for a long distance run around 9:30 a.m. that morning. Her neighbor last saw her about 200 yards from her home on Navajo Trail.
"She had been a member of the Georgetown track team, so she had a particular route that she ran in her parents neighborhood, which was the north lake subdivision, which is off of fm 3405 in Georgetown," said Williamson County Sheriff's detective Mary Lewis. "Several neighbors saw her that morning as she was on her jog…the last neighbor to see her saw her about 200 yards from her parents house. Right. She was walking kind of like she was on her cool down about ready to go home. And that was the last time anybody saw Rachel Cooke."
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To this day, detectives continue the search for Rachel.
"We feel confident that somebody out there knows something about what happened to Rachel," Lewis said. "And it's either somebody who heard something, saw something, maybe they didn't think it was germane at the time, didn't think it was important. But we need them to call us and let us know what's going on."
Lewis says Cooke's case is one of the most notorious in the county. This coming January, Cooke will have been missing for 22 years.
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Throughout the years, there have been talks about people and even cars that were seen in the area. Police were able to locate a white Trans-Am that piqued their interest, but they were unable to find any evidence that linked it to Rachel.
"We definitely suspect foul play in this case. She had no reason to leave," Lewis said.
Today, Rachel would be 41 years old. Many miss Rachel dearly and her mother has a message for whoever knows what happened to her.
"What's done is done. We can't change that. The damage psychologically for my family can't be brought back. But I could go on with the truth. And whoever did it, maybe the truth coming out would make a difference in their life," Janet Cooke said. "I would like when it's my time to go. I know I'll get the answers from god, but I'd like to be able to go to my daughter, grab her, hug her and say, this is what happened."
Greg West also added that Rachel isn't the only missing woman out there.
"After 22 years, we are incredibly fortunate to have Rachel's story still out there, still being covered. But many women aren't as lucky. Hundreds of thousands of women go missing every year. Women of color and indigenous [women] are among the highest cases of missing women every year and they deserve as much media attention as we have been lucky enough to have. Please don't forget them."
Rachel was last seen wearing gray shorts, a green sports bra, and Asics running shoes. She also had a yellow Walkman that she used to listen to music while she ran.
Anyone with any information regarding the disappearance of Rachel Cooke is asked to call the Williamson County Sheriff's Office at 512-943-5204 or contact Williamson County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-253-7867 or online at wilcocrimestoppers.org.