Joan Renee Cook was a beloved daughter, mother, sister, wife, and friend.
Joan had a seven year old daughter named Ashlyn with her estranged husband, Mike. Joan frequently stayed with her boyfriend, but would often stay with Mike when her boyfriend was out of town. Joan was a dedicated employee at a retirement community where she worked as an administrative assistant. She kept to herself for the most part, wasn’t very social, and didn’t know many people in the Salem, VA area.
The day Joan vanished into thin air.
On January 24, 2010, Joan spoke with her parents on the phone for the very last time at 10:30 pm. Joan was known to call them every week, a habit she would never break. Joan was staying at Mike’s house in Salem, VA on Elderwood Road with Mike and their daughter while her boyfriend was out of town.
According to Mike, Joan left the home sometime between 11:00 pm and 11:45 pm to walk to a friend’s home down the street. The friend later told authorities that she was not home at that time and did not see Joan that night.
"There are times when she's the first person you wanna call and then you don't have that person you call anymore.” - Carol Byer, Joan’s sister.
Concern for Joann grows in the following days.
The following morning, January 25, 2010, Joan sent her final text message to a friend. The message is reported to have simply said “i love you”. This phone call was later traced to Salem, VA’s third exit on I-81 southbound.
In the following days, Joan’s sister, Carol, received a phone call from Brandon Oaks, a retirement community where Joan worked as an administrative assistant, informing her that Joan had not shown up for work for several days. After this, Carol contacts Mike, who then reports her missing to local authorities.
“And of course there’s no evidence. No proof. No nothing, but you have gut feelings. It’s just terrible, it’s something terrible you have to live with. A nightmare that never ends.” - Lucy Huffman, Joan’s mother.
Where the case stands today.
In 2010, authorities used search dogs and cadaver dogs to search the neighborhood and area around Mike’s home with no luck. Authorities also canvassed the neighborhood by knocking door-to-door to see if any neighbors had seen or heard anything on the night of Joan’s disappearance, along with conducting aerial surveillance in the area she was last seen.
Today this is considered a cold case, there is no physical evidence or signs of foul play in this case. It has been more than 12 years since Joan’s disappearance, and authorities are seemingly no closer to finding answers than they were in 2010. If you have any information regarding Joan’s case, please contact the Roanoke County Police Department at (540) 777-8635.