Sister searches for answers in Nina Cook homicide investigation

Sister searches for answers in Nina Cook homicide investigation

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The mystery began in June 2014. Nina Cook's sister, Lydia Smith, lives out of town, so Lydia just thought her sister was traveling.

"We all tried calling her cell phone," Smith recalled. "We weren't getting anything."

Days turned into months with no word from the aspiring music artist.

"The last tweet that we found was June 27," said Smith. "She said that she was going to movies and Houston's restaurant."

In October 2014, a crew cleaning up part of the property on the old Cummings Street Baptist Church grounds in Whitehaven found Nina. Her body was found in a back room. Her body was so decomposed, it took until February 2015 to rule her death a homicide.

A Crime Stoppers report says Nina was "brutally murdered."

"We can't just piece it together," said Smith. "We can't fathom why someone would do this to her."

Smith added that Nina was naked and had no purse. The medical examiner has not made an official ruling on the cause of Nina's death.

"She was really sweet," Lydia recalled. "She had this soft, sweet voice; she sounded like a little angel."

Nina's last known address is less than one mile from the church where her body was found. She lives directly across the street from the drainage canal where 39-year-old Cekia Armstrong was found dead and naked.

James Tunstall describes himself as a father figure to Nina. He says he knew her grandmother.

"Her grandmother passed away and she needed somewhere to stay," Tunstall explained. "So, I gave her somewhere to stay."

Tunstall says Nina stayed with him on and off for a year until he couldn't get in touch with her.

"She left that morning and she never showed back up," recalled Tunstall. "I kept calling, calling, calling. She never answered."

Two days before her final tweet, the Central High and University of Memphis graduate cashed checks for a large amount of money.

Smith says Nina had just received a big refund from an online class and cashed the check at the ACE check cashing location on Poplar Avenue.

A receipt shows she also loaded about $500 on someone else's Green Dot money card.

"You don't just end up dead in an abandoned home," Smith commented.

If you know anything about Nina's whereabouts before her death, please call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

Smith added, "They took someone really special way too soon."

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