Killer’s scheming internet searches help Attorney General Todd Rokita and team preserve murder conviction

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2021 file photo, Indiana's attorney general Todd Rokita speaks, in Indianapolis. Indiana's ban on telemedicine consultations between doctors and women seeking abortions and several other abortion restrictions are back in force after a federal appeals court set aside a judge's ruling that they were unconstitutional on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. The state's Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, hailed the appeals court decision. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Attorney General Todd Rokita and his team successfully argued that the ominously specific internet searches conducted by a murder suspect constitute compelling evidence — prompting the Indiana Court of Appeals to affirm a Winchester man’s conviction in killing his lifelong acquaintance.

“The browsing history of this cold-blooded killer painted a clear picture of someone planning to commit murder, to dispose of a human body and to evade authorities by going ‘off-the-grid,’” Attorney General Rokita said. “Combined with other evidence, this kind of internet activity is a very legitimate piece of the puzzle. I’m proud of our team for helping ensure justice in this case and hold a violent criminal accountable under the law.”

According to court documents, convicted murderer Monty Cook, 63, grew up with David Brumley, the victim, and the two men stayed in touch as adults. At some point, Cook began plotting to kill Brumley and steal his prized 2004 Ford Mustang GT show car — crimes he carried out in the fall of 2018.

As court documents recount: “Brumley was found dead in his home on November 3, 2018. His body was lodged between a bed and a wall, and his head was covered by both a pillowcase and a black plastic garbage bag. The pillowcase was secured over Brumley’s head by black electrical tape, which was wrapped around his neck.”

Investigating the murder, police obtained security-camera footage showing Cook depositing the victim’s check at a local bank and driving the victim’s Mustang. They then obtained Cook’s internet browsing history.

In the weeks prior to Brumley’s death, Cook searched such terms as “how to disappear off the grid,” “Is there any poison which cannot be detected,” “can you get DNA from a burned body” and “how fast does it take a body to burn.”

After Brumley’s death, Cook searched such terms as “jobs in Bahamas,” “how to disappear,” “Winchester Indiana murder investigation,” “how to run from the law with no money” and “fugitives on the run the longest.” Cook’s visited website history revealed a distinct obsession with news articles tied to the homicide investigation – just another key fact pointing to a killing, and not just uncanny coincidence.

In its decision affirming Cook’s conviction, the court this week stated that the browsing history was part of an overall sum of evidence that “supports a reasonable inference that Cook was the person who knowingly or intentionally killed Brumley.”

Attorney General Rokita thanked his criminal appeals team, and specifically Deputy Attorney General Steven Hosler, for their work on this case.