A Utah high school teacher is accused of killing her ex-husband’s girlfriend in front of their two young children, KUTV reported.
Chelsea Cook, a 32-year-old teacher at Skyridge High School in the Alpine School District, faces possible aggravated murder charges in the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Lisa Williams. The shooting took place Sunday night at an apartment complex in Midvale where Cook’s ex-husband, Travis Cook, lives, police say.
According to her Facebook page, she is a graduate of Brigham Young University who worked in Lehi High School before going to work as a health teacher at Skyridge.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cook’s Ex-Husband Says She Refused to Leave His Home After Coming to Give Cold Medicine to Their Twins
Chelsea Watrous Cook’s ex-husband, Travis Cook, 28, told police that she entered his apartment while he was in the parking lot. He said that Cook was there to drop off cold medicine for one of their 3-year-old twins.
He said that Cook was asked to leave but refused to go and locked herself in the bathroom. Someone called 911 to get her to leave, KUTV reported.
2. Cook Pulled a Handgun Out of Her Coat & Fired at Her Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend Multiple Times, Killing Her, Police Say
Cook’s ex-husband, Travis Cook, says she unlocked the bathroom door voluntarily after 911 was called and went to grab her coat before pulling out a handgun and firing multiple times at Lisa Vilate Williams. Williams, 26, fell on the couch.
He said that his and Cook’s 3-year-old children witnessed the entire incident.
Cook’s ex-husband told police that he was able to wrestle the gun away from her and she sat on a chair with their two children while he attempted to help Williams.
He told police that his ex-wife then tried to walk to get her coat but he grabbed her and pinned her against the wall until police arrived.
According to police, officers responded to the shooting at around 7 p.m. Officers entered the apartment and found the ex-husband pinning Cook against the wall. The ex-husband told police he had the gun Cook used to shoot Williams in his waistband.
“Officers found the victim with at least two gunshots to her torso,” the complaint says. “The victim was transported to a local hospital where she eventually succumbed to her injuries.”
Read the full complaint below:
3. Cook Was Arrested in a Domestic Violence Incident in October
According to KSTU-TV, Cook had been involved in a previous domestic violence incident in October. A case related to that incident was filed in Herriman City in early November, charging Cook with two counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child and one count of assault, the news station reports.
The Deseret News reports that the three charges against Cook in that case are misdemeanors. She was accused of causing minor injuries to a male at her apartment. The man was not identified by police, and his relationship to Cook was also not disclosed, the newspaper reports. The victim did not require treatment at the hospital. Her next court appearance in that case is scheduled for December.
It is not clear where Cook obtained the weapon used in the shooting or if the gun was legally owned and registered to her. It is also not clear if she would have been required to relinquish any firearms she owned after her arrest in connection to the October domestic violence case.
4. Cook Remains Jailed on Suspicion of Aggravated Murder & the School District Where She Works Says the News Is ‘Hard to Comprehend’
Cook is being held at Salt Lake County Jail on $1 million bail. She faces one charge of aggravated murder, KUTV reports. The shooting is being investigated by the Salt Lake City Police Department because one of the people involved in the incident is related to a Unified Police Department employee. The Unified Police first responded to the shooting.
Cook worked as a health teacher. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that her staff page had been removed from Skyridge High School’s website by Monday.
The school issued a statement to parents Monday:
This morning we learned about a situation involving one of our Skyridge teachers, Ms. Cook. She was arrested and charged with a serious crime. We know there will be information in the media regarding this incident. We want you to be aware of what we have learned, so we can help you process and provide support to any of you who may be in need.
This type of news is hard to comprehend and we want you to know that teachers, counselors and your parents can help provide support in this difficult time.
As you leave school, you may see news media presence set up outside. We encourage you not to engage with reporters who may want to talk with you regarding this heartbreaking incident. District officials will be at the school answering media questions. If you are approached, we recommend that you direct any media requests for interviews to school administration or Alpine School District officials.
If you need help, we are here for you. Please let your teacher know and they will have someone escort you down to the counseling center.
We are a family and we care deeply about each of you. Please do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
The school district said it was not aware of the domestic violence charges filed against Cook in November in connection to the October incident prior to her arrest on the murder charge. Cook, who has worked in the Alpine School District for four years, will be fired, the school district said.
5. Williams’ Mother Says She Wants Her Daughter Rememberd for the ‘Beauty of Her Life’
Lisa Vilate Williams’ mother, Tawny Williams, posted a tribute to her daughter on Facebook.
“My beautiful Lisa, she was murdered while decorating a Christmas tree with the homemade ornaments she was making with the kids (3 year old twins),” Tawny Williams wrote. “She was so kind, sweet, generous, loving, and brought joy and excitement to every aspect of life. Please share the beauty of her life rather than the monster that ripped her from ours. I am asking that anyone that has posted the picture and article with the evil killer as the subject please remove it and share Lisa’s beauty instead. She was magic, and I want her remembered for how she lived and not for how she was killed.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help Williams’ family.
“Lisa was the most amazing and sincere individual. Everywhere Lisa went, she spread beauty and happiness. She loved all of the small things and was enamored with making every little thing special and beautiful. From our Parisian themed dates to finding the saddest plant in the store as a project to bring back to life she made everything better, she sought out life,” her brother and sister, Hyram and Rebekah, wrote on the campaign page.
“We all miss her so much; her spirit was magic and we can only hope to feel it again. She was ripped from our lives so suddenly and senselessly when she was murdered by her boyfriend’s jealous ex wife. She was spending the evening with her boyfriend’s adoring twins, and making homemade ornaments for the holiday season when she was taken from us. She loved bigger than anyone I know. Our beautiful little sister, daughter, and friend, you are so very loved and missed immensely.”