SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield brother and sister were laid to rest Thursday, the same day police identified the man who may be responsible for the crash that killed them.
The Missouri Highway Patrol says he may be a missing man from Blue Springs, Missouri. His abandoned car was found in the Ozarks Wednesday and his body was found Thursday. 45-year-old Raymond Cook's family actually called KSPR Monday. Cook had gone missing from his job in Claycomo, Missouri, before the weekend, and his cell phone was last traced to our neck of the woods.
A was family lost on Highway 160 in Spokane- but the real story ended down the road.
"We are looking to see if there's a connection between the tragic crash, witness statements there's a dark colored SUV, and now finding a similar vehicle owned and operated by someone who had some difficulties in life," Lt. Terry Moore with the Highway Patrol explained in a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Cook told family members he wanted to die; police say he carried out his plans in the woods a quarter of a mile from a Silver Dollar City parking lot where he abandoned his black Ford Expedition.
"We'll go back to witnesses and see if we can build that bridge without biasing the memories they have," Moore said.
"Sounded like somebody ran into a building."
That's how witnesses describe the crash that killed 28-year-old Leigh Nye and her younger brother 23-year-old Matthew Nye. More importantly is how they described a black SUV, darting through traffic, allegedly ran the pair off Highway 160 and never stopped.
Police aren't certain, but Cook's path from his workplace in Claycomo to his final resting place in Stone County could have crossed the Nyes'.
"A lot of times we're criticized for not saying anything, then if we say something and it happens to be going down the wrong path and somebody says, 'you pulled the trigger prematurely'- we don't have that bridge built," Moore concluded.
The Nyes' parents were too emotionally exhausted to say whether the possible link between Cook and the crash brought any closure. Their friends tell us they spent Thursday night celebrating their lives, not talking about their deaths.
Cook hung himself. His expedition is being held in Taney County, and Missouri Highway Patrol and Stone County Sheriff's Department are combing it for evidence to support their theory.