DEXTER, Maine — The 1999 execution-style murders of 20-year-old Mindy Gould and 21-month-old Treven Cunningham in Dexter will be included in a new episode of Investigation Discovery’s series “Main Street Mysteries,” to be aired at 10 p.m. Dec. 3.
The episode, which will air on the 11th anniversary of the murders, will tell the story of the deaths of Gould, who was baby-sitting Cunningham, and the resulting arrest of Jeffrey Cookson of Guilford, Gould’s former boyfriend. Gould had taken out a protection from abuse order against Cookson a few days before she was killed. Cookson was convicted of the murders and is serving two consecutive life sentences in the Maine State Prison.
“The coincidence of having the [season] premiere and having this particular episode air on Dec. 3 is pretty remarkable,” Treven Cunningham’s grandfather Art Jette of Cambridge said Tuesday. “It’s hard to believe it’s going to be 11 years. By now, Mindy might have had children of her own, and Treven would be going on 13.”
Jette, Treven’s mother, Cassie Asay, and Asay’s mother, Debbie Cunningham, as well as the Dexter Police Department, all played a role in the episode to be aired, according to Jette.
“Our only real interest was in defining who the victims were from people who knew and loved them,” Jette said of the family’s participation in the program. “We haven’t seen it. We’ll see it for the first time when everybody else does. We can only hope it does justice to the truth as well as justice to the victims’ memories. Our biggest concern is that this doesn’t turn into a whodunit. We know whodunit.”
Despite the attempts Cookson made to escape prosecution, Jette said, “We are perfectly satisfied that Jeffrey Cookson is the singular murderer.”
One of those attempts involved David Vantol, then 21, who confessed to the killings to Cookson’s attorney. Vantol told police the murder weapon was hidden under a rock near Cookson’s brother’s home in Dover-Foxcroft. Vantol, who has a history of mental illness, later recanted his confession and told police that Jeffrey Cookson promised him money if he confessed. He said Cookson told him details of the murders and where the gun was hidden.
Cookson continues to dispute his involvement in the killings. Oral arguments in his appeal of his conviction will be heard by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in January. The appeal involves new DNA tests that were done on articles of clothing worn by the victims.
The grief caused by the murders is constant, so the new television segment will do nothing to worsen the pain the family endures, according to Jette.
“We live with it every day,” he said.