Where is Lori Cockrell?
The 58-year-old Tupelo resident was last seen on August 10. She has since disappeared, leaving family members, law enforcement and at least one private investigator scratching their heads as they wonder what happened to her. Cockrell’s backstory is one of mostly tragedies averted, so far.
Seven years ago, she was diagnosed with the most aggressive and deadly forms of breast cancer; the survival rate was close to zero with it. Despite those odds, she managed to survive after at least five years of chemotherapy. Family members, however, suspect that regimen of chemo set off some serious changes in her thinking.
Cockrell was committed to the state mental hospital in Tupelo for a time because of her diagnosed schizophrenia. She was eventually released and spent much of her time out of town and out of state, staying with friends in various locations ranging from Colorado, Texas and other locales. She reportedly wore out her welcome at each of the locations before moving on. Cockrell always maintained her residence at The Mill at Mc Cullough apartments in Tupelo where she was last seen.
And she stopped eating, falling to 91 pounds. At 5 foot 7 inches tall, said her brother Tim Cockrell, “She looked like a skeleton with skin draped over it.” He, other family members and even her doctor warned Cockrell that if she didn’t resume eating, she would again be hospitalized. That warning, it is theorized, is what caused her to elect disappearing.
Enter James Terry: the Biloxi-based private investigator specializes in finding missing people. He was hired by the Cockrell family to find Lori Cockrell. The high-energy investigator has been on the case nearly three weeks and, as of last weekend, had interviewed 114 people in his effort to find her. (He said that, in the process, he has located two other missing women who bear an uncanny resemblance to Lori Cockrell.) Terry lauded the Tupelo Police Department for their work investigating Cockrell’s disappearance even though there is no apparent crime committed in her disappearance.
“The police have done a phenomenal job,” said Terry. One of the last people to see Cockrell was a Tupelo police officer who lives in her apartment complex and serves as security officer there; he reported seeing Cockrell leaving several times with a couple in a 2015 maroon Honda CRV. The vehicle was driven by a balding, heavyset man in his 50s who was accompanied by a thin, blonde woman. No one knows who they are or where they are from.
“The CRV is crucial,” said Terry. “Who the hell is in that CRV?”
Terry and Tim Cockrell say on the morning of August 10, a neighbor at the complex saw Lori Cockrell taking up two spaces when she parked her car. Her apartment door was found ajar and she had left her phone, ID and other personal items behind. Terry said Cockrell was not running from the law, child support or any of various other reasons people disappear; there is no evidence of foul play. Tim Cockrell said he agrees with TPD investigators that it appears Lori Cockrell got into a car driven by someone she knows and left the area.“I think she is still in hiding,” said Tim Cockrell. “This has been terrible for the family. We hope and pray she is alive.”
If you have information in this case, call Terry at 813-993-2242.