Women standing up in hope accused serial abuser will be punished

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Tenn. — Charles Cook is behind bars for allegedly kidnapping and beating a woman for two weeks but, as that woman heals, other women are stepping out in support.

They hope that strength in numbers will finally keep Cook behind bars.

Cook is sitting in jail on a $350,000 bond, accused of beating his girlfriend Melissa Terrell beyond recognition.

"It's like it hits you in the gut, you can't breathe — he's done it again, when's it going to stop?" said Leslie Young, who shares two children with Cook.

About a year ago he was ordered to take anger management classes after attacking her.

"I was pregnant when he did what he did to me."

Domestic violence advocate Andrea Carpenter took Cook in at 12 because she says, even then, he was a master manipulator who convinced her that he needed to be saved from his family.

Now she wants him stopped before it's too late.

"One of them he held captive two days, the other three days, one for four days, this time it's five days plus on Melissa. This is what concerns me. He's escalating," she said.

Carpenter says numerous victims have reached out to her saying they've been hurt by Cook and she says once he was slapped on the wrist for Young's attack, she knew something similar or even worse would follow.

"I made the statement then, before February there will be another victim or they will be dead," she said.

And almost to the date of those words, Melissa Terrell was airlifted to the hospital after being beaten with a plunger stick and, according to police, held hostage
for two weeks in her own home by her new boyfriend — who Terrell told family seemed like a nice guy.

"He's charismatic. I've known Charlie since he was 13 years old," added Carpenter.

Carpenter says Cook poses as a Marine, makes victims his girlfriend and then he turns off the charm and terrorizes them.

"We are scared to death every day," Young said. "It was just a nightmare."

WREG found reports of Cook using knives and screwdrivers in his attacks, biting his victims and leaving them black and blue. He's even accused of making himself spare house and car keys to make it hard for his victims to get away.

In one attack, according to the report, the victim ran into a store and hid behind a cashier who hit the store's panic button to call police.

Young says he's even used intimidation by writing their 3-year-old from behind bars while in jail.

"It should have been stopped a long time ago," she said. "Hopefully we can make it so he doesn't get out and do it again," added Young.

Even though the victims are still shaken, they are standing up — and standing with Melissa to stop the attacks.

"I think these girls will have enough strength to stand together to make sure Charlie never has the chance to hurt another girl," said Carpenter.

As far as we can find he's only served minimal jail time for attacks, the most time being 6 months in Ohio where, according to that victim's family, he was told to stay out of town. Domestic violence reports span back 13 years.

On this latest attack he's expected to return to court to face a judge on Feb. 22 in Lauderdale County. However reports of attacks span throughout Dyer County where he has other pending cases.