Cook pleads guilty to triple murder, gets life


Triple-murder suspect Gregory Alvin Cook (aka Gregory Alvin Mitts), 42, of La Grande has pleaded guilty to five felony charges in a plea bargain.

Union County District Attorney Tim Thompson made the announcement after Cook's arraignment Oct. 22.

The bodies of his three victims were found in rural Elgin in late July of this year. Shannon McKillop's body had been dismembered and was found in a pond near Pumpkin Ridge Road on July 24. Subsequent searches led to the discovery of the bodies of Frank Scaramuzzi and Jeremiah Johnston in a woods near Darr Road north of Elgin on Aug. 1.

Cook was captured in Thurston County, Wash., Aug. 3 after a nationwide alert. He later confessed the crimes to a television reporter while being checked into the Thurston County Jail, blaming methamphetamine use.

His longtime girlfriend, Denise Murphy of La Grande, told the Chieftain that Cook had written a confession, which he asked her to deliver to the Union County Sheriff's Office and in which he gave the date of the killings as July 17.

Cook was eventually charged with:

? Aggravated murder in the July 2009 death of McKillop, the 51-year old woman he stabbed to death during the course of kidnapping her.

? Aggravated murder in the death of Scaramuzzi, 50, during the same criminal episode in which Jeremiah Johnston was killed.

? Aggravated murder in the death of Johnston, 28.

? Abuse of a corpse in the first degree in the mutilation and dismemberment of McKillop after her death.

? Felon in possession of a firearm relating to Cook's possession and use of a firearm during the murders of Scaramuzzi and Johnston after Cook had previously been convicted of a felony.

Following his arraignment, Cook waived his right to a grand jury indictment and a preliminary hearing and entered guilty pleas to all five charges as part of a deal that took the death penalty off the table.

Additional terms included Cook's agreement to be sentenced to three consecutive life terms without parole on the aggravated murder charges, followed by a consecutive maximum sentence of 10 years for the mutilation of McKillop's body, followed by a Triple murder consecutive maximum sentence of five years for felon in possession of a firearm.

Cook is not eligible for any forms of alternative program or any form of release. He also waived all appeals.

In addition, he has agreed to provide a complete recitation of the details of the crimes.

He is further ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined during the sentencing hearing.

Sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 9. Cook is represented by Baker City attorney Ken Hadley and Ontario attorney Mark Rader.

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