The residents of League City, Texas, were left petrified when the police began recovering the bodies of several missing girls from a stretch of land that was later given the moniker of “The Texas Killing Field.” Between 1984 and 1991, there were four sets of remains recovered from any isolated field beside Calder Road, one of whom was eventually identified as Audrey Lee Cook’s. Netflix’s ‘The Texas Killing Fields’ thus chronicles her disappearance and follows the investigation that continues to try its best to bring closure to her family. Let’s delve into the details surrounding the crime and find out more, shall we?
How Did Audrey Lee Cook Die?
Although a native of Memphis, Tennessee, Audrey Lee Cook relocated to Texas to live with her girlfriend around 1976. Sources mention that while in the state, she worked as a mechanic for several organizations, including Harris Equipment Company, Balloon Air, as well as National-Rent-A-Car. The local Houston area resident was considered a generous and kindhearted individual, always ready to help others in need, but some reports allege she’d also been involved in drug dealing and drug abuse.
Although Audrey had built up a life for herself in Texas, she remained in touch with her family back in Tennessee and communicated with them regularly through letters and emails. However, the last time she ever contacted them was via email in December of 1985, following which all notes, calls, and letters went unanswered. In other words, Audrey went completely dark, and no one who knew her, whether in her home state or Texas, had any idea regarding her whereabouts. That’s when her family decided to pack their bags, travel to her new home, and report her missing. They even got together with local volunteers and combed through the surrounding areas for some clues, but to no avail.
Incidentally, the first body to be recovered from the patch of land beside Calder Road was of Heide Fye, who had actually gone missing back in 1983. While her body was recovered in 1984, authorities came across the bodies of two other women, mere meters away, on February 2, 1986. One of those was Laura Miller, who had disappeared in 1984, but the other unfortunately could not be identified and was thus deemed Jane Doe. In 2019, though, more than three decades after the fact, authorities revisiting the case decided to use advanced DNA phenotyping and genetic genealogy, only to finally identify her as Audrey Lee Cook. Although it is believed that Audrey, around the age of 30, died of blunt force trauma, the level of decomposition meant her actual cause of death couldn’t be determined.
Who Killed Audrey Lee Cook?
Since Audrey was not identified up until 2019, the investigation into her murder as an unidentified victim was extremely challenging. However, even investigating her disappearance was difficult as Audrey’s family was clear they had no idea about her connections or acquaintances, whereas those close to her in Texas insisted the victim did not have any known enemies who could harm her in any way. Yet, once her contacts alleged her involvement in drug use and abuse, detectives wondered whether this could have had a hand in the incident, only to reportedly rule it out soon after.
Meanwhile, the investigation into Laura and Heide’s death led to one Robert Abel, who owned a ranch near the Calder Road field and was previously employed by NASA. However, he denied his involvement in either of the murders, and with nothing concrete linking him to the crimes, authorities could not bring him in on any charge. Therefore, it wasn’t until 2013 that the next possible breakthrough arrived when League City resident Clyde Hedrick was charged with the 1984 murder of Ellen Beason. Incidentally, while Clyde was in prison, his cellmates claimed he had confessed to raping and murdering Laura Miller; plus, his ex-wife insisted he had returned home with a blood-covered knife one night in 1986. Investigators thus suspected he could’ve been involved in all the Texas Killing Fields cases, including that of Audrey, who was still unidentified at that time.
However, ultimately, Clyde was only convicted of manslaughter in Ellen Beason’s death and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2014. He was never charged with any of the other murders. Hence, Audrey’s case regrettably remains unsolved to this day, although officials are still on the lookout for tips and vehemently encourage the public to call in with any information they might have. On the other hand, her family continues to keep her memory alive through their prayers and is still waiting for justice to be served.