Charged with killing one woman, Alberto Palmer now faces charges in the death of Klaressa Cook. Both bodies were found in cars.
For six months, Klaressa Cook was the other murder victim linked to Alberto Palmer.
Like 18-year-old Brittany Clardy, Cook’s body was discovered in a car in a Twin Cities impound lot. But while Palmer has been jailed in Anoka County since March, charged with Clardy’s murder, no charges had been filed against him in Cook’s death, although Brooklyn Park police named him the lone suspect.
“We’ve waited, we’ve worried, we’ve wondered,” Cook’s sister Arianna Russell said this week. “My sister wasn’t perfect, but she never hurt anybody. We need to know what happened.”
On Thursday, a Hennepin County grand jury indicted Palmer on two counts of first-degree murder in the death of Cook, a 24-year-old Georgia native. The document listing the charges does not provide details.
The development is the latest during a 15-month period that has seen charges against Palmer in the assaults of three women in Georgia last year, his arrival in Minnesota last winter and the killings of two young women who apparently dabbled in prostitution and died within weeks of one another.
According to court records, Clardy, of St. Paul, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in February after meeting Palmer through the website, backpage.com, where she advertised massage services. It was the same Internet site Palmer allegedly used to meet the women he is accused of assaulting in Georgia. In the indictment involving Cook, Palmer was charged with murder and with murder during an aggravated robbery.
Cook, like Clardy, was believed to have worked as a prostitute, family members said, but the similarities with Clardy may have ended there. Clardy was raised by two parents in a traditional family setting. Cook’s father served 20 years in prison for a killing committed when she was a baby. Her mother, Regina Cook Dean, had six children by three men by the time she was 21. And Cook drifted through foster care, often shuttled between Georgia and Tennessee, before being sent to an alternative high school in Savannah, some 300 miles from her family, relatives said.
None of her family members are sure how or why she came to the Twin Cities. Russell said she last heard from her sister on Jan. 19, a little more than a week after Cook’s 24th birthday. Cook told her sister at the time that she was in Minnesota, had a job with a car dealership and was living in a hotel.
“She said she was doing real good,” Russell said. “She told me she was working in a car lot, as a salesperson. But to be honest, I was afraid to ask much more.
“We didn’t like her being so far away and not knowing, but she was so strong-willed, so independent, so stubborn.”
Several of Cook’s relatives, including her sister and grandmother, said that Cook told her mother she’d worked as a prostitute when she lived in Georgia. But her family was convinced that she had abandoned prostitution. She told them she was “tired of getting hurt,” Russell said.
‘We were all hopeful’
“She told me she had quit meeting up with guys,” said Russell, 20. “She talked about going to college, about becoming a veterinarian. She wanted a baby real bad. She was so good with kids. We were all hopeful.”
Cook mentioned late last year that she had ended a relationship with a man she’d been seeing in Atlanta. That was around the same time that Palmer left his job as a cook at an Atlanta restaurant. According to Palmer’s relatives, he came to the Twin Cities in late December or early January, staying with a brother in Brooklyn Park, an aunt in Woodbury and, possibly, another brother and sister in the Twin Cities. If Cook knew Palmer in Atlanta, she never mentioned him to her siblings or cousins.
‘We all worried’
“We all worried about her,” a cousin, Mercedez Burson, said from South Cleveland, Tenn. “It’s not safe for a girl that pretty to travel the world — especially doing what she was doing.”
“She was a free spirit, but she was also very loving and caring,” said her grandmother, Sally Hernandez. “She talked about going to Las Vegas and to California and then we didn’t hear from her no more, like she dropped out of sight.”