Recently released surveillance video has offered more details on the final days of Thomas Cook, a Vermont man who went missing in Costa Rica and was later found dead in a shallow grave.
The video, released by Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Department, shows Cook making a withdrawal at a bank and leaving in a blue vehicle. The video is dated August 23, 2018, two weeks before Cook was reported missing and just over a month before his body was discovered.
Before his remains were identified, Cook’s family struggled to get any helpful information from Costa Rican Authorities, including bank transactions and cell phone records. They turned to the non-profit Missing Americans Project, which had the resources needed to help find Cook’s body.
“My contact just began asking questions, and he’s lived down there quite some time,” said Jeff Dunsavage, founder of the Missing Americans Project. “He has quite a few connections, particularly in law enforcement. He was ears and eyes on the ground.”
Dunsavage founded the Missing Americans Project roughly 10 years ago after his brother went missing in Honduras. He called it his life’s work, and even though the group’s resources have helped countless families like Cook’s find some form of closure, getting all of the facts is a tall task.
“It’s very difficult to get any kind of progress or information when dealing with these governments,” Dunsavage said. “Even the Embassy, which one would reasonably think would step in to help you in these areas, tends not to.”
Costa Rican authorities released the surveillance video earlier this month in hopes the public might be able to help with the investigation. Dunsavage was hoping they’d be further along in the process.
“I found it interesting they were making any kind of report at this point on that, I was hoping for some news but there was really nothing in that report that was new,” Dunsavage said.
Sandra LaFrance, Cook’s sister, said last year that the Missing Americans Project was instrumental in helping locate his remains.
“They were behind me every step of the way,” LaFrance said. “I worked with quite a few people, and it’s a nonprofit so they did everything on their own time, and they were vital in getting us information we needed to find my brother.”