BARRE — More than a month after the body of a Barre woman was found dumped on the side of a road in central Vermont, her alleged killer appeared in court.
Randal Gebo pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder Monday in Washington County Superior Court.
Cindy Cook’s body was discovered July 13 over an embankment in Middlesex.
Gebo, 61, was arrested more than a week later driving Cook’s Mini Cooper in Illinois. According to court papers, he lived with Cook, 59, for about a year and a half at her apartment in Barre.
Cook had likely been dead for several days when her remains were found, a police affidavit states. Police believe she was killed late July 4 or the next day.
An autopsy found bruising on Cook’s neck and evidence of blunt force to her head, neck and torso. Her hands and feet were bound with dog leashes.
According to court papers, Cook’s twin sister told police that her sister relayed that Gebo was sometimes verbally abusive. Another friend reported that Cook stayed with her for more than a week last fall because she “needed to get away from Randy,” but the friend did not know any details of abuse.
As Gebo walked into the courtroom Monday, he bent over and pulled down his pants, exposing his underwear to reporters.
He stood by an attorney, who entered Gebo’s plea of not guilty. The prosecutor asked for Gebo to be held without bail and to limit his contact with four people. Another hearing is expected to be scheduled in the next few weeks to decide whether Gebo can be held without bond.
Police believe Cook and Gebo were camping near the Middlesex road where her nearly naked body was discovered. A dog matching the description of Cook’s dachshund, Honey Bee, was seen in the area around July 5. The dog has not been found.
Gebo allegedly took Cook’s car and credit card and drove west.
During his nearly two-week cross-country flight, he spent all the money in Cook’s checking account and maxed out her credit cards, according to police.
Gebo was initially arrested on suspicion of operating a stolen vehicle and using stolen credit cards. A Vermont judge issued an arrest warrant on a murder charge earlier this month.
As Gebo was escorted from the courtroom Monday, he again addressed reporters.
“Hey, you want to try one more time?” he said, trying to pull down his pants before officers hustled him out.
During the brief proceedings, Cook’s family and friends looked on from the back of the courtroom.
After the hearing, Cook’s son and daughter said they were concerned about whether the court would set bond.
Christina Searles, the oldest of Cook’s three children, said it’s been difficult to find closure.
“We still think Mom’s going to appear and whatnot, and it doesn’t happen,” she said.
“It’s just really hard to swallow, just to think that another human being could do something so heinous to another human being,” Searles said.
Matthew Hayes, Cook’s son, spoke in favor of the death penalty and said capital punishment “is the proper punishment for this.”
Tammie Duprey, a neighbor, held a photograph of Cook during the arraignment.
“Cindy’s a beautiful, beautiful, loving, spiritual woman, and he may have taken her away from us, but her name will live on. I will make sure that her name lives on,” Duprey said outside the courtroom.
She said she wasn’t aware of details of Cook’s relationship with Gebo.
“I just wished and prayed that she would’ve reached out and told one of us that she felt she was in harm’s way,” Duprey said.