Chelsea Watrous Cook is behind bars for murdering her ex-husband’s girlfriend, Lisa Vilate Williams, at his apartment home in Midvale, Utah.
In August 2017, Cook’s former spouse filed for divorce, and five months later, it was finalized. He eventually began dating Williams, a 26-year-old teller at the bank where he worked.
By the summer of 2018, Cook had allegedly begun harassing Williams, and according to The Daily Spectrum, there were “confrontations at the bank, bullying on Instagram, and several phone calls.”
Those calls were reportedly made from Skyridge High School in Lehi, where Cook had been employed as a health and yoga teacher for four years.
Williams, of American Fork, was reluctant to report Cook to the police because she thought it would have made the “situation harder for the children.”
Cook and her ex-husband have two children—twin girls who were three years old at the time.
“In hindsight, I think the best thing for the kids would have been to call the police every time,” said one of Williams’ relatives.
Williams’ mother stated that she would always worry about her daughter’s safety.
On the night of Nov. 25, 2018, Cook sent her ex-husband a text message. She asked him to meet her outside his apartment complex, which was located near the 7600 block of South Center Square.
Cook claimed that she wanted to give him cold medicine for one of their daughters.
He went outside and stood in the parking lot, but Cook was nowhere to be found.
When he returned to his apartment, he realized that Cook had snuck inside, where Williams and the twin girls were decorating the Christmas tree with ornaments they had handmade.
He asked her to leave, but Cook refused and locked herself in the bathroom for approximately 15 seconds.
He called 911, and during that time, Cook exited the bathroom and grabbed her coat.
Cook, who was 32 years old at the time, pulled out a gun and fired three to five shots at Williams, which caused her to fall on the couch.
When Cook’s ex-husband snatched the gun out of her hand, she sat down in a chair next to her children.
As he was tending to his girlfriend, she got up and started walking toward her coat. That’s when he pinned Cook against the wall and instructed their children to run to the room.
He kept Cook in that position until the police arrived.
Robert Ungricht, a detective with the Salt Lake City Police Department, stated that around 6:56 p.m. they received a call about a domestic disturbance, but sometime later they received another call about a shooting.
When officers arrived on the scene, they noticed Williams was suffering from two gunshot wounds to the torso. She was rushed to an area hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries.
Cook was arrested. She was booked into the county jail on charges of one count of aggravated murder.
After her arrest, the Alpine School District terminated her employment and removed her staff page from their website.
They had also learned that Cook was arrested on Oct. 16, 2016. She was charged with domestic violence, but it didn’t involve Williams.
According to attorneys in the case, Cook and her ex-husband got into an argument while he was picking up their children. It was then that she allegedly grabbed him by his hair, which caused him to fall down the stairs.
She pleaded not guilty to the charge, but she failed to report it to the superintendent.
It was reported that if teachers with the Alpine School District were ever arrested, they were supposed to report it within 48 hours.
On Nov. 30, 2018, Williams was buried at the Centennial Park Cemetery in Centennial Park, Arizona.
According to her obituary, she was “joyful and delighted in the little things. She had a green thumb and a passion for plants, especially finding and reviving the ones that were struggling.”
“To those who knew her well, she was funny, thoughtful, philosophical, and loved to engage in meaningful conversation.”
Cook later admitted to fatally shooting her ex-husband’s girlfriend.
To avoid the death penalty, she pleaded guilty to seven charges, including aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, and committing violent offenses in front of children.
In February 2020, Cook was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison.