Husband wants more urgency in search of missing people - KCTV5

Husband pushes for more urgency in search of missing people with Alzheimer's

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Hellen and Howard Cook on their wedding day. Hellen and Howard Cook on their wedding day.
Photo Courtesy: Hellen’s Heroes Photo Courtesy: Hellen’s Heroes
Photo Courtesy: Hellen’s Heroes Photo Courtesy: Hellen’s Heroes
BENTON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -

A grieving husband said more must be done to save the lives of people with Alzheimer's disease who wander away from their homes.

Howard Cook knows what it feels like to search for someone who disappeared. His wife, Hellen Cook, went missing last July and was found dead near a pond just two miles from their vacation home in Benton County, MO.

For 29 days Howard Cook and dozens of others posted Hellen Cook's photo everywhere they could. Those 29 days were filled with hope. The family barely slept and they jumped every time a phone rang, hoping that day was going to be the day they found her alive. On Aug. 11, 2013 officials found her, but it was too late.

"I always told her, 'Hellen, never stop making me laugh' and she never did," Howard Cook said.

The couple celebrated 50 wedding anniversaries together.

"We almost had 51 years. She left just a little early," Howard Cook said of his wife.

Howard Cook told his wife every day that he loved her. Some days Alzheimer's caused her to forget, but still he continued to say it until he couldn't anymore.

Hellen Cook wandered away from home on July 13, 2013. Dozens of strangers, family and friends searched for her.

The thought of his wife alone in wooded areas was too much for Howard Cook to handle then. Now he just misses his wife, his other half.

"Let me tell you it's not nice once they are gone. It's not nice at all," he said.

Howard Cook, Hellen Cook's friends and their family started the group Hellen's Heroes. They want lawmakers to require training for law enforcement officers to teach them how to search specifically for someone with Alzheimer's who is missing.

"So that nobody else has to go through what we did," Howard Cook said.

The group says that Hellen Cook was found when a specialized task force with proper training helped in the search.

"Because they knew what to look for. They knew how to look," her husband said.

Howard Cook can't help but wonder if specialized training was required, if the outcome would have been different.

"I don't know. We think maybe it might have," he said.

The family also wants Missouri lawmakers to change the way silver alerts are issued for older people who are missing. They want the same urgency and widespread media coverage that is used for an Amber Alert.

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