By Jesse Wood
Oct. 9, 2012. The double-murder case that put a dark cloud over the Mabel community during Thanksgiving in 2010 has finally been resolved in court two years later.
Jeremy Russom, who shot Heather Jolene Baumgardner, the mother of his children, and her boyfriend Barry Wayne Cook at Baumgardner’s residence at 1387 Mabel School Road on Nov. 22, 2010, plead guilty to two counts of first-degree murder on Monday.
Judge Gary Gavenus sentenced Russom to life without parole and was ordered to pay $18,823 in restitution, $5,000 fine and $7,264 in court costs. According to court documents, these costs are to be paid by October 1, 2022. He has also been ordered not to contact the victims’ family.
Baumgardner was a former assistant manager at Walgreen’s in Boone and a current student at Caldwell Community College, according to an obituary prepared by Hampton Funeral Service in Boone.
Cook, of Zionville, was father to Zachary Cook, a 17-year-old student at Watauga High School. He was a superintendent for Greene Construction in Boone. Skip Greene, owner of Greene Construction, said Cook had worked for the company for 20 years and was an “excellent, excellent” employee.
According to the arrest report, Russom was a truck driver for James Wilcox Freight, based in Vilas.
In 2010, the High Country Press reported:
Lowell Younce, former chair of the Watauga County school board, lives directly across the street from the crime scene. His daughter heard a gunshot and saw Cook lying in the driveway, told Younce about it and started to call 911, Younce said. They stopped the call when they realized that Henson Chapel United Methodist Church Pastor Katherine Cornell had stopped at the scene and was making a 911 call.
Younce said he had seen Baumgardner and her 6-year-old son enter the home a few minutes earlier. Younce went to the home to stay with the young boy while first responders attended to Cook. Younce said he had watched Baumgardner grow up at the home, where she moved back to reside two or three years ago after her father died.
“I have sympathy for all the families involved in this,” Younce said.
A handgun was listed as the weapon on the incident report, but Rominger declined to confirm whether the Sheriff’s Office had recovered the crime weapon.
Russom allegedly fled the scene on foot, prompting a lockdown at nearby Mabel Elementary School Monday afternoon.