PHOENIX — It’s one of the Valley’s strangest unsolved cases. On Sept. 21, 1998, 49-year-old Cookie Jacobson disappeared from her Tempe, Ariz. home.
Her brother, Gary O’Neal, knew she hadn’t just wandered away because her purse, keys and glasses were still inside the house, but he could have never imagined what would come next.
About a week after Cookie disappeared, her husband and two children took polygraph tests. According to the detective who has since retired, the results for Jacobson’s then-13-year-old daughter Laura were inconclusive, while the results for her 16-year-old son Aaron revealed dishonesty.
According to police, Aaron eventually told them he had discovered his mother dead in her bed, and he feared he and his sister would be blamed. Aaron and Laura wrapped their mother’s body in a sheet and dumped her in the trash behind their home.
Tempe police arrested Aaron on suspicion of second-degree murder charge and Laura on suspicion of facilitation to commit second-degree murder. Hours later, the county attorney ordered to be released to their father, citing lack of evidence.
The search for answers led to Butterfield Landfill in Mobile, Ariz. Police and public works employees spent 59 days sifting through an estimated 7,000 tons of trash.
They never found Jacobson’s body, and O’Neal never got to spread his sister’s ashes in the White Mountains — as she had requested years earlier.
Ten years ago, police received a tip, but have been unable to reach the person who provided the information.
“Someone out there knows something,” said O’Neal.
Fifteen years later, Tempe police say 31-year-old Aaron and 28-year-old Laura Jacobson remain the sole suspects in the open murder case. Detective Tom Magazzeni said they know there is information out there to take the case to the next level.
“It’s frustrating and sad and it’s not fair to Cookie,” he said.
Jacobson’s brother agrees.
“You know, I ask myself every once in a while if anyone out there knows when the tears stop,” said O’Neal. But, he admits the answer is likely not one that he wants to hear.
Anyone with information about what happened to Cookie Jacobson is asked to call the Tempe Police Department at 480-350-8311.