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Russell became concerned about her sister when Cook failed to send birthday greetings to her twin brothers. Still, she said she waited two months before contacting authorities in Minnesota on March 18. Palmer, already in jail, had been arrested two weeks earlier and charged with Clardy’s murder.
Cook’s life had been rough from the start, recalled her cousin Jennifer Burson. Her mother was 16 and unmarried when Klaressa was born. Cook was a baby when her father, Cliff Carroll, was convicted of killing a man during a 1989 argument. He would spend 20 years in prison before being paroled three years ago.
Cook was 4 when she was molested by a family friend and removed from her home by authorities, said an aunt, Tabytha Byrd.
“We were so proud of her when she got her diploma that we all drove down from Tennessee to Georgia to see her and spend time with her,” Jennifer Burson said.
Cook’s body was discovered in a Minneapolis impound lot on May 20. Her car had been towed there on April 11 from a Rainbow Foods parking lot in Brooklyn Park. When impound lot employees detected a foul odor from within the gold Lexus, Cook’s body was found in the trunk.
In late May, Brooklyn Park police identified Palmer as the suspect. They released his name before charges were filed to reassure the public that they didn’t think there was a risk to broader safety, they said.
Part of the reason for the longer time before the Hennepin County indictment was that Palmer was already in jail in Anoka County. In addition, authorities said, the county attorney’s office decided to seek a first-degree murder charge, and the evidence needed to be presented to a grand jury.
Members of Cook’s family, interviewed before the indictment was issued, now want closure. Her parents, who never married but are again a couple, declined to be interviewed. Cliff Carroll, who forged a relationship with his daughter after his release from prison, said through his sister, Barbara Taylor, that’s he’s “still grieving” and could not talk about her death.
“I just want to hear the man say he done it,” Taylor said of Palmer. “I want to know that that man will face judgment.”
Byrd, Cook’s aunt, said: “We pray for Alberto Palmer. I pray there is no bitterness or hatred dwelling in anyone’s heart or mind.”
Staff writer David Chanen contributed to this report. Paul Levy • 612-673-4419