Could father and son boaters have deliberately vanished off the coast of Florida? Peter Cook was facing drug and weapons charges in South Carolina when he disappeared on a boat along with his father and four dogs, after they departed Panama City headed for Vero Beach.
The defense attorney for Cook, 56, of South Carolina, said his client is presumed dead, and had no reason to fake his death by disappearing in a newly purchased boat.
Peter Cook bought the boat in late January, said Miller Marina general manager Mandy Warren.
On the same day in South Carolina, an order modifying Cook’s bond conditions was filed in Berkeley County Circuit Court. The Berkeley County State Solicitor’s Office said it would not comment on ongoing trials.
The U.S. Coast Guard Feb. 26 suspended its search for Peter and his father Gerald Cook, 81, of Vero Beach.
The search began Feb. 19 after a family member contacted the agency saying the pair had not returned from Panama City with Peter’s newly-bought boat by their scheduled arrival date of Feb. 18.
Coast Guard officials said they found no traces of the Cooks, their 52-foot vessel or their four dogs along their intended course from Panama City south through the Gulf and east on the Okeechobee Waterway then north to Vero Beach.
Elisabeth Cook, 82, of Vero Beach, said her husband and son departed from Miller Marina in Panama City Feb. 13, and made an unexpected stop in Port St. Joe later that day.
She said Gerald called to tell her they’d stopped roughly 40 miles south of Panama City, but didn’t tell her the reason for the unscheduled pause in their planned five-day-voyage.
The only marina in Port St. Joe, and the only marina between Mexico Beach and Apalachicola capable of docking a boat that large, Captain’s Cove, said there were no records or sightings of the Cooks or their boat on Feb. 13.