Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 10, 2011

Gone without a trace — Probe into disappearance of Mercer County woman, friend ongoing since 1992

GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Fresh leads could help close the case of a woman who disappeared  on the evening of her son’s first birthday almost 19 years ago this month.

Brenda Lambert was 22 when she left her Bluewell home without taking her car and few, if any, personal items. Nobody has seen the blue-eyed, dark-haired mother of two since July 26, 1992.

Five and a half months later, her friend., 21-year-old Mark Anthony Cook, left Pedro’s Bar, then located at Airport Square off U.S. Route 52, and disappeared. Since that time, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department has been searching for both individuals.

“It’s been an ongoing case since 1992,” said Major Darrell Bailey. “As we get leads, we follow up on them. But they’ve been getting fewer and fewer over the years.”

However, the case does have a lot of facts to work with, and there is a suspect in the disappearances; but there is not enough information to make an arrest, he said.

The case of Brenda Lambert is classified as a missing person, but the investigation leans toward a homicide, Bailey said.

Bailey consulted the case file, a thick binder filled with pages, and looked up an age-progressed photograph of Lambert that was made in 2006.

There are obstacles to finding out what happened to Lambert and Cook.

“Number one, we don’t have a body. If we could locate the body, it would tell us a lot. The medical examiner could tell us a lot, even the manner of death,” he said.

As the years progressed, the search took investigators to different parts of Mercer County. In 2003, one tip suggested that bodies might be found in a pond near U.S. Route 52. Members of the Bluewell Volunteer Fire Department helped by pumping thousands of gallons of water from the pond. When this did not drain the pond sufficiently, a diver checked, but could not find anything because there was so much underwater growth.

Unidentified bodies listed in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database are also checked, but this has not lead to any new information.

Today an age-progressed photograph shows what Lambert would look like today and there is still hope that somebody with information will come forward.

“Whenever the story is in the news, we get tips. Sometimes it’s things we knew before, sometimes it’s not,” Bailey said.

Lambert was described as 5’ 2” tall with blue eyes, black hair, medium skin tone and a scar on her right wrist. She was last seen wearing a blue jean t-shirt and blue jean shorts. Cook was last seen wearing a white baseball cap, bleached out blue jeans, black tennis shoes, a black t-shirt and a blue denim jacket with writing on the back, according to Bailey’s records. Cook was 5’ 8” tall with green eyes, brown hair and fair skin.

People with information can call anonymously at 304-487-8365.

“Leave as much information as possible,” Bailey asked. Since the line does not have caller ID, investigators cannot call back to ask questions.

Bailey can be reached at 304-487-8390.