Released killer confused by modern life after 27 years in prison
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Since Bonnie Jean Cook’s release on a rare grant of clemency, after 27 years in prison, she has been acclimating slowly to modern society with bingo games at her apartment building and outings to browse thrift stores.
Cook, convicted of murder in the shooting death of a pregnant woman in 1986 when her name was Bonnie Foreshaw, won early release in 2013 following a lengthy campaign by author Wally Lamb and others who felt she was treated too harshly by the criminal justice system. She argued she shot the woman by accident, a claim rejected by prosecutors.
Life on the outside brought a new set of challenges. How people cling to their cellphones, how information is easily available online and the way money looks have all thrown Cook for a loop.
“I hadn’t seen money since 1986,” she said, citing the new $20 bill as particularly jarring. “It looked like Monopoly money.”
In addition to being overwhelmed by new technology, she had to find doctors, obtain prescriptions for medications she received in prison, get a state identification card and find a home. She also legally changed her last name to Cook in an effort to leave behind some of her notoriety.
“Life is hard out here, too,” Cook, 68, said in an interview in her one-bedroom apartment in East Hartford, which is adorned with family photos and a stencil she did on a kitchen wall that says, “With God all things are possible.”