Anthony Cook, at times aided by his brother Nathaniel, embarked on a murder spree in the Toledo, Ohio, area that killed nine people from 1973 until his 1981 arrest for murder. If not for DNA evidence that had been preserved for twenty years, however, the scope of his and Nathaniel's crimes would likely never been known.
The best place to begin the tale is with the last slaying. On September 18, 1981, Anthony Cook assaulted Todd Sabo and Leslie Sawicki completely out of the blue while the pair sat in a van in an apartment complex parking lot. While Sabo fought with Anthony Cook, Sawicki escaped and telephoned police and also her father, Peter Sawicki. Unfortunately, Peter Sawicki arrived on the scene first and was shot dead by Anthony Cook. Sabo was shot in the neck and shoulder but survived.
Anthony Cook was arrested for the attack and sentenced to fifteen years to life in prison. He had been locked up ever since, just another one of the many murderers in our nation's prison system. Having long suspected he and Nathaniel may be responsible for other homicides, authorities in 1997 decided to compare the brothers' DNA to some of past crimes. They soon found a match with the murder of Tom Gordon, 24, and the rape and attempted murder of Gordon's girlfriend on May 14, 1980. The Cook brothers confronted the couple while they were sitting in a car and forced them into the backseat, driving them to a secluded area and shooting Gordon dead. The girl was raped by both brothers and stabbed repeatedly with an ice pick. She was left for dead but did survive the horrible ordeal.
Arrested for the murder of Gordon and the crimes against the unnamed girlfriend and under close scrutiny in many other slayings and attacks, the murderous siblings decided to cut a deal. Anthony Cook agreed to another term of fifteen years to life for the murder of Gordon while Nathaniel received twenty to seventy-five years in prison for the attempted murder of the girlfiend and the brothers confessed to a startling string of killings and attempted murders over an eight year period spanning for 1973 through 1981.
The spree began with Anthony Cook working as a solo act. On December 20, 1973, 22-year-old Vicki Small and some friends had car trouble and Anthony Cook, posing as a helpful citizen, gave Small a lift. She was found raped and shot to death later in the day.
Soon after Small's killing, Anthony Cook went to prison until 1979 on an unrelated robbery conviction but after his release resumed his killing with a vengeance. Now teamed with brother Nathaniel, he picked up hitchhiker Connie Thompson, 19 on January 17, 1981. Both brothers raped Thompson until they tired of her, killed her, and dumped her violated body in a culvert. Just ten days later they struck again, forcing a young couple into a vacant garage where they were both shot but survived. Then on February 21 they abducted Dawn Backes, 12, on her way home from school and took her to an abandoned building where she was tortured, raped, and then bludgeoned to death with a concrete block.
After the Backes slaying Anthony Cook went solo once again. On March 27, 1981, he shot dead Scott Moulton, 21, and Denise Siotkowski, 22. On August 2 he abducted Daryl Cole, 21, and Stacey Balonek, 21. They were later found in the trunk of Cole's car, beaten to death with a baseball bat. Siotkowski and Balonek had both been sexually assaulted. The next month Anthony Cook was arrested for Peter Sawicki's murder and the killings were finally over.