SULLIVAN, Mo. — If home is where the heart is, a Sullivan, Missouri house has both James Cook's heart and handprints.
"When you walk in, James is everywhere in the house. His handprint is everywhere," his mother-in-law Vickie Munton said.
Munton and Tracy Nichols, Cook's mother, stand outside the house where they last saw him, still shocked by his sudden murder.
"He was on the porch and I yelled as I walked around the truck. I said 'I love you, Bub.' He said 'love you too. I'll see you in a week.' The very next day, he was gone. Just gone," Nichols said.
Married to his childhood sweetheart, Cook spent eight years with the Marines before moving back to Missouri, working various jobs to provide stability for his two young daughters before landing a security guard gig with MetroLink.
"I can't wrap my head around this violence that took this life after he was around the world twice literally and come home to die in his backyard," Munton said.
Both women say Cook loved his job and would buy train tickets for people who couldn't afford them.
This weekend, his mom says he was talking to another man for just a few moments before the other man pulled a gun and shot Cook. The former Marine, well-trained in firearms, was not allowed to carry one himself while on the job.
"I think it did happen really fast, but I feel like he would have had half a chance had he had his weapon," Nichols said.
Now these two mothers turn their attention to their granddaughters, carrying on Cook's legacy.
"James was funny, he was smart, he was talented beyond measure... like nobody else," Nichols said. "He was just an all-around good person. It's what he is and will always be."
A GoFundMe account is collecting money for Cook's widow and two daughters, collecting more than $75,000 in 24 hours.