Raynard Cook – Everything We Know About The Murderer Of Judge Cook

What has to happen for you to kill your mother? That is a question that people have about Raynard Cook. His name came into the limelight in 1996. The reasons and motives behind the murder …


What has to happen for you to kill your mother? That is a question that people have about Raynard Cook. His name came into the limelight in 1996.

The reasons and motives behind the murder remain a mystery to this day. Some theories suggest he wanted to become a gangster and had always been trying to get out of his house to do so. Yet, his mother, who was a judge, never allowed it.

So, Raynard tried an alternative route, eliminating the threat. The investigation found out he was the one to kill his mother. Let’s take a look at the crime, his life, and his mother’s life.

Who Was His Mother?

Raynard’s mother was Josephine Holmes Cook. She was an Atlanta Judge who was shot and killed on October 16, 1996, in Cascade Height, an Atlanta suburb.

The murder was featured in an episode of Oxygen’s The Real Murder of Atlanta. Born in May 1947 in the United States, she worked as a judge for most of her life.

Josephine died a slow death due to the loss of excessive blood. She was killed by her teenage son, who was 17 years old at the time.

According to people who knew her, she was a woman of faith, ambition, and dedication. Before the murder, she lost her bid for re-election. That made some people speculate that the cause of death was suicide. But the medical examiner determined that she had been shot once in the back of her right shoulder and dispelled that idea.

At the time of death, Judge Josephine Cook was a 49-year-old woman. At her home, blood was all over the place. Rhonda Cook, a former journalist, said in the Oxygen episode, “She tried to drag herself downstairs to make a call from the downstairs phone and she bled to death”.

The infamous murder was featured in an episode of Oxygen’s The Real Murder of Atlanta. The story begins on October 16, 1996, when a 911 call was made from the suburban neighborhood of Cascade Heights.

The call was made by the neighbor. According to Clint Rucker, former executive District Attorney, “the neighbor next door reported that a young man, Raynard Cook, had come home from school and discovered his mother’s body in a pool of blood in the house”.

Who Is Raynard Cook?

Raynard Cook’s name came into the media in 1996 when he shot and killed his mother. At the time, he was 17 years old, meaning he was born in 1979. There is no info about his father. We only know the identity of his mother, Judge Josephine Holmes Cook.

According to some reports, he wanted to become a gangster. He has been trying to get out of his home for years to do so. Yet, his mother worked as a judge, and she never allowed it.

At the time, Raynard was a student at Woodward Academy. It was a top private high school at the time.

There is no information on whether he was involved in a relationship with a woman, fathered any children, or anything like that.

As far as we know, he has no siblings. Judge Cook revealed nothing about her husband or other children than Raynard.

The Murder of Josephine Cook

As we said before, the murder occurred on October 16th, 1996. A search of the house turned up a .9mm spent projectile and a .9mm empty brass casing. Investigators observed blood on the keypad of an upstairs phone that had been disconnected from the wall. That was all the evidence they needed.

According to police investigators, Judge Cook tried to drag herself downstairs and make a call from the phone. She bled to death, and it was a slow one.

At the time, detectives searched for leads and a motive. Who was the one behind the brutal slaying? Initially, they suspected a professional hit and something personal.

But they observed that the door of Josephine’s son had been forced open and the area had been ransacked. They also found a shoebox containing bags of marijuana and a large amount of cash in the room.

They then spoke with Raynard, and he outlined his movement during the day. According to his version, he left for school at 7 am and had football practice from 3:30 pm to 6 pm. He then went home and found his mother’s body. Then, he rushed to his neighbor’s home. At the same time, he admitted he sold drugs to his friends for pocket money.

But police investigators further found out Raynard and his mother had a difficult relationship. They spoke with students at the school, and they confirmed that Raynard was in school all day.

They then turned to Josephine’s work in the judicial system as a possible motive. But that was a dead end.

They then canvassed friends to determine whether Josephine Cook expressed concerns before her eventual death. And one of them told them about worries about Josephine’s son. Friend Saundra Maass-Robinson, said, “She was concerned that he would go out there and do something stupid”, adding that his bad behavior seemed to be becoming a pattern.

And selling pot was only one example. Raynard wanted to be a gangster. That is when the case took another turn.

But the big thing was the testimony of the neighbor. Raynard told detectives that he’d cradled his mother in his arms when he found her in the pool of blood.

Yet, the neighbor said when he came, she instructed him to sit on her white sofa. Then, she added, “If I had seen one speck of blood he would not have been sitting on my couch”. That is how investigators knew he was lying.

They then focused on the murder weapon, speaking with Woodward Academy students. One of them told them Raynard Cook bought a gun, a Glock 9 mm pistol. He bought it for $150 two weeks before the murder.

When confronted by the authorities, Raynard said he threw it away because it was faulty.

Eventually, Raynard was arrested and charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm. His trial started on March 20, 1998, one and a half years after the arrest.

The prosecution claimed he murdered his own mother in an act of rebellion and rage. They concluded he shot his mother and watched as she struggled to call 911, and bled to slow death. Then, he went off to school.

The defense, on the other hand, downplayed the strained relationship between the teenager and his mother.

His family pressured him not to admit guilt, and he acquiesced. The jury found him not guilty in the case of malice murder. But he was found guilty on the remaining three counts and was handed a life sentence.

If you want to read more about the case, you can do it here.

Where Is He Now?

There is no easy answer to this question. Raynard was sentenced to jail. As of June 2023, there is no latest news on where is he serving his case.

No one from the Cook family came forward to give details about him. Many believe he is still in prison serving his sentence and undergoing therapy.

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