Anthony and Nathaniel Cook

On September 18, 1981 Todd Sabo and Leslie Sawicki were inside a van in an apartment parking lot in Toledo Ohio when Anthony Cook came inside and began attacking them. Leslie would escape and first call the police and then her father, Peter.  Peter would arrive on the scene first and when he did Anthony Cook would shoot and kill him.  Anthony had already shot Todd Sabo in the neck and shoulder but he would survive.  Anthony would be arrested and later convicted and sentenced to fifteen years to life.

Prosecutors did not believe that this was the first time that Cook had killed but they could not prove a whole lot back in 1981. They also wondered if Anthony's brother, Nathaniel was not involved with his brother.  One of the reasons that they suspected Anthony in more murders and attacks was the fact that for the year and a half preceding the death of Peter Sawicki Toledo had seen a rash of murders that had been left unsolved.  

In 1997 with the advancement of DNA now available detectives started looking into the rash of murders that had occurred starting with the first one in May of 1980.  Thomas Gordon and his girlfriend (who in nothing I ever found was named) were abducted in their car and forced to a remote area on May 14, 1980.  Thomas was shot in the stomach and put in the trunk to die.  The girlfriend was raped and stabbed repeatedly with an ice pick.  She would fake death and wait for the two assailants to leave as they left her in the backseat of the car. She was able to make her way out of the car and to a house for help.  Thomas would die at the scene.  

DNA testing was done on the evidence that had been saved and was compared to Anthony Cook's DNA and a match was found. DNA was also apparently found connecting Anthony's brother, Nathaniel.  For approximately the next three years the Cook brothers would hash out deals as well as confess to several more attacks and murders. By the time they were done investigators would learn that Anthony Cook's reign started long before that 1980 night and while they got confessions to solve several murders they were convinced since both brothers worked as long-haul truck drivers for a time that there were likely several more within the state of Ohio and across the country.

Anthony would confess that on December 20, 1973 he had found twenty-two year old Vicki Lynn Small when she and some friends had car trouble in a snowstorm.  He would offer to give her a ride to get some help.  Her body would be found in a park later.  She had been raped and shot.  

Not long after the murder of Vicki Small Anthony had gone to prison for an unrelated robbery conviction.  He would not be released until 1979.  It was then that he recruited his brother, who would help him in the murder of Todd Sabo and the attempted murder and rape of his girlfriend.  

The next murder that the brothers would confess to was that of nineteen year old Connie Thompson.  The brothers had picked her up while she was hitchhiking.  They both raped her and dumped her on the side of the road.  Ten days after that they would both abduct Arnold Coates and Cheryl Bartlett, forcing them into a vacant garage.  The brothers apparently came unprepared because they only had one bullet and two victims.  They made the couple embrace each other and shot them apparently hoping the one bullet would kill them both. They both survived.

Then on February 21, 1981 twelve year old Dawn Backes was walking home from school when Anthony abducted her.   He went and retrieved his brother and they proceeded to take her to the basement of a theater where she was raped and beaten with a concrete block.

After that it seems that Anthony preferred to be on his own.  His next attack would be on Scott Moulton and Denise Siotkowski.  They were killed in their car in an apartment complex.  Denise had been sexually assaulted.

The next crime that Anthony would confess to, although authorities doubt it was his next occurred on August 2, 1981. Daryl Cole and Stacey Balonek would be found beaten to death with a baseball bat and left in the trunk of Daryl's car.  Stacey had been sexually assaulted.  

By the time the brothers were done talking eight cold case murders in the Toledo area were solved.  Anthony was already serving a fifteen years to life sentence for the murder of Peter Sawicki.  He would receive another sentence of twenty years to life for the murder of Thomas Gordon in his plea deal.  Nathaniel would receive a sentence of twenty to seventy-five years for his participation in the Thomas Gordon murder.

You would think that this would be the end of hearing from the serial killing brothers but sadly both of the brothers are frequently up for parole.  Anthony was denied in 2015 and his next hearing is not until 2024 but Nathaniel's next parole hearing is in January of 2018.  It is likely that investigators will do all they can to make sure these brothers remain in prison for the rest of their lives.   Ohio does have the death penalty although admittedly they have not performed an execution in a few years.  If any two people deserved to be sentenced to death it would be these two and if for no other case than that of twelve year old Dawn Backes.

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