BARRE, Vt. – The former boyfriend of a woman found dead on a roadside embankment last month pleaded not guilty Monday to first-degree murder and other charges in her death.
The shackled Randal Gebo, who bent over and pulled his pants down in front of news crews as he was led into the courtroom, appeared in Vermont Superior Court in Barre, while relatives and friends of victim Cindy Cook looked on.
Superior Court Jude John Pacht ordered the 61-year-old Gebo held without bail pending another hearing that will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
Gebo's attorney, Maggie Vincent, didn't comment after the hearing.
Gebo is charged in the death of Cook, 59, whose body was found over an embankment in Middlesex on July 12 by a woman walking her dog. An autopsy determined she had been strangled.
Both Cook and Gebo lived in Barre.
Cook's eldest child, Christina Searles, said after Gebo's court hearing she was trying to piece together what happened.
"It's just really hard to swallow, to think that another human being could do something so heinous to another human being, I think, and it just happens to be our mom," Searles said.
Searles' younger brother, Matthew Hayes, said it was a relief that Gebo was in jail and facing charges.
Court documents said Gebo was known to have a temper, but the documents did not describe how detectives believe Cook was killed. Cook last had contact with friends on July 4, and Gebo started using her credit cards and driving her car on July 5.
After Cook's body was found, police traced Gebo as he crisscrossed the country in Cook's car. He was arrested July 19 in Downers Grove, Illinois, just west of Chicago.
Gebo is also charged with credit card fraud, aggravated operation of a vehicle without the owner's consent and other offenses, including animal cruelty. Cook's dog, a dachshund named Honey Bee, was apparently freed at a Middlesex picnic area about 5 miles from where Cook's body was found. The dog has not been found.