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Crime News Cold Cases

Skeletal Remains Found By Hunters In 1985 ID’d As Missing Houston Teen

DNA has helped Brazoria County investigators identify the remains of 16-year-old Alisha Cooks who was shot to death and left in a Texas pasture. 

By Jax Miller
How To Use DNA To Crack A Case

Human remains found nearly 37 years ago have finally been identified as a missing Texas teenager, thanks to DNA advancements.

On Dec. 16, 1985, two hunters came across the remains of an unidentified female at the juncture of County Road 59 and County Road 90 in Pearland, just south of Houston, according to the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office. Little information was released about how the Jane Doe died, though authorities ruled her manner of death as a homicide, per Wednesday’s release.

According to the Doe Network, the victim died from a gunshot wound to the head.

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Brazoria County investigators said they received a DNA report on Oct. 6, providing results that determined the unidentified murder victim was 16-year-old Alisha “Lisa” Marie Cooks, who was reported missing by family members in the summer of 1985.

“Providing closure to the families of the victims is not always doable,” the sheriff’s office stated. “I am proud to say, in the case of Alisha Cooks, we have done just that.”

Missing teen Alisha Cooks

The victim’s brother, Byron Parker, was photographed with investigators following news of the identification. According to the release, the victim’s family volunteered their DNA, which was later submitted to NAMUS, leading to the positive identification of Cooks.

“While the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the homicide remains open, we were alt to give the family some closure this week when confirmation of the remains found 36 years ago were identified as that of Alisha Cooks.”

A composite of Jane Doe 1985

Cooks’ body was found in a pasture about 50 yards from the road’s intersection, according to the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children. The area is now the site of the Silverlake Subdivision – about 20 miles west of an area known as the “Texas Killing Fields,” where the bodies of no less than 30 missing and murdered women and girls have been found since the 1970s, according to CBS News.

Officials have made no suggestion that Cooks' murder is related to the others. 

At the time, she was believed to be a Hispanic teen between 15 and 25 years of age. While investigators found no identifying information with the skeletal remains, they did recover a small, red Rafaella brand sweater, a pair of blue jeans, and a woman’s wristwatch, which had a square face and a maroon leather strap.

Officials determined she died six to 12 months before she was found.

Now, investigators say they hope they can pursue the person or persons responsible for Cooks’ murder. Anyone with information is urged to contact Sergeant Clinton Lobpries or investigator Buck Henson at the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office by calling 1-281-756-2392. Tipsters can also leave an anonymous tip with Brazoria County Crime Stoppers.

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