LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Seven years ago, a Lufkin man was murdered in cold blood while he slept in his bed. Sam Cook was shot three times on September 11, 2007 shortly after midnight.
For seven years, Cook's family has been waiting for answers in this cold case.
“They took my brother. I want to know why. He didn't deserve to die, and we just can't understand why someone would just do this; just can't. I can't get over it,” said Cook's Sister, Sandra.
According to a sheriff's report, a passerby noticed a male subject lying in the ditch on Sundale Road, which is outside of the Lufkin city limits on Highway 69, with one arm stretched upward. It was later discovered that Cook had wandered outside and walked approximately 500 yards from his residence “falling into the ditch and eventually succumbing to his wounds.”
Hours before the tragedy, Sandra Cook said her brother had eaten dinner with her at her house, which was right next door to his. She said she has no idea why her brother would wander down the road after being shot instead of coming to her house.
“The cops came to my house at 1 [a.m.] and said my brother was in an accident. I seen his truck out there and I said, ‘what kind of accident was he in?' and they said he didn't make it. And I haven't been right ever since,” Sandra Cook said.
For years, the case has gone through three different investigators at the Angelina County Sheriff's Department and details remain unclear as to why several leads were never followed up on.
In the sheriff's report, it says Cook's truck, which was reported to have blood inside of it, was taken by Cook's stepson, Jamie Nofsinger, several days after the murder.
“Mr. Nofsinger was told not to take any of Mr. Cook's items and he purportedly left. Later, it was found that Mr. Nofsinger returned to the house and was able to take the truck from the residence. This truck was reported to have blood transfer inside it,” said the report. The report also states that the truck was returned later and “had been cleaned excessively.”
However, it does not say in the report if the lead was ever followed up on or if the blood was ever tested to see if it even belonged to Cook.
The report also states that Nofsinger had been involved in a burglary with a person named Lynn Hearn.
“Mr. Cook had supposedly stated that someone might be killed over the items that were taken. It is unclear in the reports if this was ever followed up,” the report stated.
It also states that a dark colored vehicle was last seen in the area of the victim's house a week before his death.
“When the neighbors were speaking to each other about seeing this vehicle, someone stated that the vehicle looked like ‘Pedro's' car. ‘Pedro' was reported to be Mr. Cook's brother-in-law. It did not appear this was followed-up,” the report said.
“This is an old case that was done by people who weren't even here anymore, so that creates a problem too for us, but we can go back and try to find these folks and interview them,” said Greg Sanches, the Angelina County Sheriff.
Yet, more details are unclear in the report. It says in May 2011, it was reported that Nofsinger had brought a gun to his uncle to fix.
“The gun, possibly a .22 caliber revolver, Saturday night special, was not ejecting the rounds. The uncle in the case refused to come to the Sheriff's Office for a statement. It does not appear this was followed-up,” the report said.
Sanches said this detail is strange because he believes the bullets that killed Cook were from a .22 caliber revolver. He also said that based off of the evidence it appears Cook was murdered by someone he knew.
“Or somebody that he had dealings with, a business dealing or something of that nature. And it definitely don't look very good from that standpoint,” Sanches said.
However, Cook's sister, Sharon Nieves, said she doesn't believe Nofsinger is involved and believes that Cook could've been killed by the Aryan Brotherhood. She said she believes this based off of a confidential phone call she received, which Sanches said has now been taken in as evidence.
“It had to be somebody he knew. It had to be somebody that he may have met or somebody that just didn't like him, or you know?” Nieves said. “My brother had a lot of friends and he was a good guy. He had no problems. I just don't understand it.”
The Texas Rangers have been requested to join the investigation, Sanches said. But the family said it's too late, they should've had answers years ago.
Several evidence pieces are still missing in the case, Sanches said, but he said as soon as the investigator receives the rest of the case file, the evidence, and the possible video shot the night the incident occurred, they can finally move forward in their investigation.
But, Cook's family said enough is enough, and they are tired of waiting.
“I want someone to come forward. They know who they are. And you walk around; how can you do this? How can you just live with yourself by killing someone and getting away with it. I want to know why,” Sandra Cook said.
If you have any information as to who killed Sam Cook, you are urged to call the Sheriff's Department at 936-634-3332.
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