The husband of a mother who is missing with her three young children in Virginia has said he is “not concerned” about their disappearance.
Lauren Cook, 30, and her children, a seven-year-old boy, five-year-old girl and two-year-old boy, all mysteriously vanished after they were supposed to turn up at a family member’s home in New York, but never arrived.
Ms Cook and her children were last seen on 5 September in Franklin County, Virginia, but since then communication with the mother has been unsuccessful, Franklin County police said.
But Ms Cook’s husband contradicted police, telling WSET-TV that his wife and children are “not missing” and that he has had contact with his wife.
“Contrary to what has been reported, my wife and children are not ‘missing,’” the husband said in a statement to the outlet. “I have no reason to be concerned about their safety or well-being. I have heard from my wife, and I’m sure she and my children are doing well. We ask that our family’s privacy be respected at this time.”
Franklin County Sheriff’s Sgt Megan Huston said the search for the Virginia-based family continues despite Mr Cook’s comments.
“If the husband has had contact with Lauren since then, we aren’t aware of it,” she said.
“Lauren Cook and the three children are still entered as missing. Law enforcement (wherever it may be) has to lay eyes on her and the children in order for them to be removed as missing from the system.”
Ms Cook is married and lives with her husband in southwest Virginia, who has full custody of their children. There are no records or 911 calls in Franklin County that show any signs of a domestic dispute between the couple.
“A lot of times you see these situations where a parent loses custody and takes the kids and runs away. This doesn’t seem to be like that,” Sgt Huston told The New York Post.
“But they’re not originally from here so I can’t say if something has or has not happened elsewhere, I’m not privy to that information. It’s a complex situation that we have limited details on.”
Officials said it was presumed Ms Cook could have been in New York at one point, but they say she could have still been in Franklin County or somewhere else in Virginia. Police are unsure of where Ms Cook and her children could be now.
Authorities say that while they are unable to reach Ms Cook, a key clue to their investigation is her mobile phone, which last pinged in Lexington, Virginia on 7 September.
Deputies also said there has been no activity on her bank account, reported WSLS.
It is thought that the mother and her three children could be travelling in a blue 2013 Chrysler van with Virginia tags.
Anyone with information about the missing family is asked to contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office or their local law enforcement agency.