Joan Renee Cook

Joan, circa 2010

  • Missing Since 01/24/2010
  • Missing From Salem, Virginia
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 02/02/1965 (53)
  • Age 44 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'6, 120 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A black jacket, a red sweater, blue jeans, low-top Timberland shoes, a gold ring with her initials "JRC" on her right hand and a gold watch on her left arm.
  • Medical Conditions Cook had been taking anti-depressant medication for years prior to her disappearance.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Cook may go by her middle name, Renee, or the nickname Renny. She has a tattoo of a frog on the small of her back and a tattoo of a flower bracelet on her ankle, and her ears are pierced. Cook's pinky fingers are both bent inward at the last joint.

Details of Disappearance

Joan was last seen walking away from her husband's home on Elderwood Road in Salem, Virginia at 11:00 p.m. on January 24, 2010. She was en route to a friend's house, but the friend wasn't home at the time and it's unclear whether she ever ever arrived there.

Joan had been married for 22 years by the time she went missing, but her marriage was troubled and she and her husband, Mike, were separated. Mike had initially moved to Iowa in 2007 to find a job, with the plan being for his wife and daughter to join him there later. Joan began seeing another man while her husband was gone, and when Mike found out he returned to Virginia. According to Joan's sister, Mike stalked Joan and her boyfriend, but didn't actually make threats against them.

By the time she disappeared, Joan was living with her boyfriend and planned to divorce Mike when finances allowed. Her boyfriend had visitation with his daughter every other weekend, and during those times Joan would stay with her husband and their daughter. It was on one of the visitation weekends, while Joan was with her husband, that she disappeared. Mike said Joan behaved normally that night before leaving the house at 11:00 p.m. and never coming back.

The last contact with her was a cellular phone text message sent to the friend she was supposedly going to see the night of her disappearance, sent at at 5:00 a.m. on January 26. The text simply said "I love you." At the time, Joan was at the third Salem exit southbound on Interstate-81. Mike reported her missing on January 31.

A search of Mike's home turned up no evidence of foul play, and the couple's daughter, then seven years old, said she hadn't heard anything unusual that night. Mike took the child and moved back to Iowa after Joan went missing. Joan's boyfriend was ruled out as a suspect in her case because he was visiting his daughter out of town that weekend.

It's uncharacteristic of Joan to leave without warning and abandon her young daughter. She was carrying a purse, wallet, house keys, a green duffel bag containing clothes and makeup, and a beige toiletries bag at the time of her disappearance. Since she went missing, her cellular phone and bank accounts have not been used.

Police believe someone close to Joan knows what happened to her. Her case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Roanoke County Police Department 540-562-3265

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 1, 2018; details of disappearance updated.