Franklin County mom, three children removed from Missing Persons database

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 11:29 AM EDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - A Franklin County mother and her three children are no longer considered missing following an investigation into their departure from home.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office reported on September 13 that Lauren Cook and her three children, Benjamin, Hannah and Elijah, did not return home and that family members were unable to communicate with them. A week later deputies said they were believed to be in Illinois. A week after that, Cook’s husband and mother were able to contact her and confirm Cook and the children were safe.

Tuesday, deputies said they would be removing Cook and her children from the local and national missing persons databases.

Over the Labor Day weekend, deputies say the Cook family traveled to New York for a pre-arranged trip. They did not return to Franklin County and instead traveled to another state where they have decided to remain for the time being. Their contact with family was limited and they missed a court appearance, meaning their disappearance met criteria to issue a missing persons alert.

Since that alert, law enforcement officials have been able to corroborate sightings of the family through surveillance footage and video calls, leading officials to determine they appear safe and not under duress.

Considering the circumstances, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says the case no longer meets the criteria needed to extend a missing persons alert.

“Situations like these are sometimes very complex and law enforcement may be limited as to what details can and cannot be released due to ongoing investigations,” said a spokesperson with the agency in a press release. “Regardless of the circumstances, the end goal of all involved is to simply locate the individual to ensure that they are safe.”

In their update Tuesday, officials with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office thanked the public for their help in spreading the word about missing person cases and for reporting tips.