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DNA links suspect to murder scene
Dodsons were stabbed to death, TBI agent says
Bryan James Cooke is the man who stabbed local store owners Gary and Gail Dodson.

With the blood of his victims found on his clothes and the murder weapon lying nearby, prosecutors say Bryan James Cooke is the man who stabbed local store owners Gary and Gail Dodson to death last summer inside their home.
Cooke, the son-in-law to the couple he allegedly killed, was bound to the grand jury by Judge Bill Locke on Tuesday afternoon following a preliminary hearing in which TBI agent Lance Walker revealed the couple was stabbed to death by a kitchen knife that he believes the suspect may have shoplifted from Walmart hours before his fatal visit to their home.
“Both victims sustained what appears to be multiple stab wounds,” Walker testified of his discovery inside their home.
Walker said he believes Cooke robbed the couple, judging from the evidence he found.
“Mr. Dodson’s blue jean shorts appeared to have been rummaged through and pockets turned inside out,” Walker testified, noting Mr. Dodson was found on the couch while Mrs. Dodson was found in a bedroom. “In the kitchen area, Mr. and Mrs. Dodson’s wallets had been gone through and there was a bank bag that had been opened and emptied.”
Walker later pointed out that when Cooke was found hiding out the next day in a Jacksonville, Fla., motel, he had a large sum of money. He also had the Dodson’s Jeep, which was missing when their bodies were found. However, Cooke’s vehicle was found wrecked on the Dodson property where he had hit an outbuilding, explaining why he took their vehicle after the murders.
“We assumed he arrived at night, low visibility,” Walker testified, noting Cooke’s Ford Taurus became wedged in the outbuilding and could not be removed.
During his time exploring the murder scene, Walker said he found clothing belonging to Cooke lying the floor of the Dodson’s bathroom.
“The items of clothing we found next to the knife had red blood stains on them,” Walker testified, noting investigators know the clothes belonged to Cooke for two reasons.
First, a surveillance video from Walmart showed him wearing the exact same clothes just hours before the murder. Walker said they went to Walmart and viewed the tapes because the clothes in question were Starter brand and Walmart carries that brand.
Also, Walker said DNA tests confirm it is the Dodsons' blood on the clothes and that Cooke’s skin was found on the clothes, suggesting he was wearing the clothes when he fatally stabbed his in-laws.
Walker suspects Cooke used a credit card to spring the back door lock of the couple’s home as he found a credit card on the floor with marks indicating it had been used to jimmy the lock.
The evidence convinced General Sessions Judge Bill Locke to bind the cases to the grand jury. Dodson remains held under $2 million bond. The preliminary hearing for Cooke had been on hold for many months while a psychiatric evaluation was conducted on him. Prosecutors revealed Cooke was found competent to stand trial.