Leslie Adams and Billy Cook
Photo: WSB/ via
Photo: WSB/ via

Family relieved by arrest 11 years after Gwinnett woman found in swamp

Thirteen years after Leslie Adams disappeared from her Lilburn home, her family is finding closure with the arrest of Adams’ ex-boyfriend, Billy Joe Cook.

Cook was arrested Thursday and has been charged with felony murder. Adams’ body was found in a Franklin County swamp two years after her disappearance.

For more than a decade, Leslie Adams’ family felt “paralyzed” by the fact that there had been no arrest in her disappearance and death, cousin Alayne Adams said.

MORE | Ex-boyfriend faces murder charge 13 years after Gwinnett woman disappeared

“We just couldn’t move past it,” Alayne Adams told Channel 2 Action News. “Will this arrest change that? This arrest has already changed that. We’re feeling rejuvenated. We’re feeling hopeful.”

Cook was the “primary and only suspect” in the case within days of Leslie Adams’ 2005 disappearance, said Cpl. Wilbert Rundles, a Gwinnett County Police Department spokesman, in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday.

Leslie Adams had taken a temporary protection order out against Cook days before her disappearance. Blood stains and a spent bullet casing were found in Leslie Adams’ home after she was reported missing, Rundles said. Those pieces of evidence led police to believe it was a homicide from the beginning, but there was not enough evidence to charge Cook initially, including Leslie Adams’ body, Rundles said.

After the body was found in 2007, investigators first had to establish whether Leslie Adams had been killed in Gwinnett County, Franklin County or somewhere in between, Rundles said. Eventually the case went cold, but full-time cold case detectives officially re-opened the matter in 2017, though Rundles could not say what led them to do so. 

Rundles partly attributed new investigative resources to the department’s ability to arrest Cook now, saying there are tools currently available that were not in 2005. The investigators on Leslie Adams’ case, like her family, “never gave up hope,” he said.

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Channel 2's Matt Johnson reports.

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