FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va, – The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is providing more details about a family that has been missing for more than two weeks.
Lauren Cook and her three kids — 2-year-old Elijah, 5-year-old Hannah, and 7-year-old Benjamin Cook — all went missing around Sept. 7. Authorities told 10 News that their disappearance came after a missed court appearance, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 5.
At one point, law enforcement believed they were in Litchfield, Illinois, but this week authorities said they determined that the family had since left the area. It appears that they had only been in Litchfield for one night before leaving on Sept. 13.
The sheriff’s office said the family was due in court on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The husband was present but Cook and her children were not there.
The husband and Cook’s mother claim that Lauren contacted them both the morning of court, letting them know that she and the kids were safe, according to authorities. However, she did not share where she was.
We’re told law enforcement officers have been unable to ping Cook’s phone since Sept. 7.
Authorities said Lauren and her three children will still be listed as “missing” in local and national databases. That is until a law enforcement agency is able to locate them and determine that they are safe and not under any duress.
“This is the typical protocol for when someone is entered in as missing,” the sheriff’s office said. “A reported phone call, phone ping, photo, video, audio, etc. is not sufficient to clear the missing persons alert out of the system. There must be an in-person, face-to-face meeting with a law enforcement officer.”