Psychiatrist warned in 2016 that Naples murder suspect was in danger of harming self or others
This is a six-month review of the most-read crime stories in Collier County on naplesnews.com from September 2018 to February 2019. Wochit
A psychiatrist who treated a North Naples woman suspected of murder previously testified during a Baker Act hearing that a brain injury and psychiatric disorder put her at danger of harming herself or others.
Prior to being arrested on the charge of second-degree murder, warning signs were present for Amanda Cook, 35, who has a history of mental health problems and run-ins with the law.
In a May 2016 petition for involuntary placement at a mental health facility, Dr. Damian McGovern, a psychiatrist at NCH Baker Hospital Downtown, testified that Cook had hallucinations that made her believe she was an angel and that she heard “the voices of angels and demons.”
“Dr. McGovern testified that the Patient had a brain injury in 2003 which has affected her by making her disinhibited, i.e. cannot make rational decisions,” the petition stated. “Dr. McGovern testified that the brain injury plus her psychiatric disorder put her at danger of self-neglect and also in danger of harming herself or others. Because of her condition, the Patient is capable of acting on her command hallucinations.”
Along with noting that Cook was “pacing, boisterous and agitated” while at NCH Baker, he reported that additional treatment was required to treat her agitation.
During the May 2016 hearing, Cook stated she would take her medications and asked that she not be placed in a mental health facility so she could instead be homeless, “where she is experiencing the most happiness.”
The court, however, denied her request to stay out of the facility and cited that “she has a history of not being in compliance with medications and treatment.”
Cook was arrested last week after her mother placed a 911 call in which she was told that Cook’s roommate, Karen Leiti, had fallen over a speaker during an altercation, rendering her unresponsive.
A preliminary examination by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Manfred Borges, however, determined blunt force trauma to the left side of Leiti’s head was likely the cause of death. Wound patterns on Leiti’s head were also consistent with an unidentified object that had blood on it that was found away from the victim’s body.
Before the Collier County Sheriff’s Office arrested Cook on suspicion of murder, law enforcement agencies in Southwest Florida had numerous calls over the last three and a half years about Cook.
Stalking of Marco councilor
The most prominent events related to Cook stalking Marco Island City Councilor Jared Grifoni, who turned to the court system to issue Cook a no-contact order with him and his family.
The Naples Daily News previously reported that Cook would show up at Grifoni's place of work and home, terrifying his wife and children, and leaving messages in his mailbox and voicemail.
Cook’s mother, Vicki Richards, testified at a later Baker Act hearing that Cook believed Grifoni was “her spiritual husband.”
After a temporary injunction forced Cook to stay 500 feet away from Grifoni and his family, a Marco Island police officer pulled behind Cook’s vehicle and made contact with Cook near Grifoni’s home one night in February 2016.
In the incident report, then-Sgt. James Inlow reported that Cook said she knew she was 534 feet away from Grifoni’s home by using Google Maps. Inlow was able to verify that Cook was correct about the exact distance.
Despite the issuance of a permanent no-contact order, including the requirement that Cook stay 2,000 feet away from Grifoni, his family, their businesses and vehicles, Grifoni had to take further action.
Grifoni filed a complaint against Cook months later after receiving voicemails and Facebook messages from Cook, but the state attorney’s office indicated it could not move forward on charges due to insufficient evidence.
The Marco Island Police Department was able to catch Cook in the act of violating the no-contact order in October 2017 when they found Cook at Grifoni’s home. In the arrest report, Cook stated she was there to see Grifoni’s children and make amends.
While Cook pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced to time served, the harassment did not stop.
Earlier this year, Cook made a false 911 call that brought the police to Grifoni’s parents' house, which would constitute a violation of the no-contact order. Cook also was cited on Marco Island for failure to register her vehicle in February. It’s unknown why Cook was on Marco Island at that time.
On Friday, Grifoni called authorities after he received a voicemail from the jail that he suspected came from Cook.
The voicemail states: “An offender at a correctional facility attempted to make a collect call to this number, but the call could not be completed due to billing restrictions.”
Other incidents involving Cook
Daniel Cook, Amanda Cook’s former husband, filed a petition for protection against Cook.
In January 2016, the two separated, and their divorce was finalized in April 2017.
On Feb. 2, 2016, Daniel Cook filed a petition that stated Amanda Cook showed up at his grandparents' house and threatened to take their daughter in her car.
Cook then bit Daniel Cook multiple times and his mother in the face, he wrote in the petition for protection.
In the fall of 2015 — prior to their divorce — Amanda Cook “upper-cutted” and “busted” Daniel Cook's lip after she told him their daughter was crying because he coddles her, he wrote.
In the document, Daniel Cook stated, “I don’t know if this is considered a history of mental health problems, but she did receive brain damage from a car accident from several years ago.”
On December 20, 2016, after an argument at a Big Lots in North Naples, Amanda Cook punched Daniel Cook in the face and cut his forehead.
Amanda Cook’s then-mother-in-law and then-sister-in-law filed similar petitions against Cook.
One in particular stated that Amanda Cook was removed from a Dunkin Donuts in Marco Island on Feb. 14, 2016, by Marco Island police and had a history of showing up at places that she knew Daniel Cook’s family frequented.
In the petitions, Daniel Cook’s family member wrote, “Amanda believes that I have placed a demon inside her.”
Former inmate’s account of Cook
Following the Sheriff’s Office announcement about Amanda Cook’s arrest, Jennifer Conklin, a woman who identified herself as someone who was in jail at the same point as Cook, wrote about her encounters with her on its Facebook page.
Media Relations Bureau Manager Karie Partington confirmed that Conklin and Cook lived in the same jail housing area at times between October and November 2017.
Conklin said she was scared by Cook. Conklin said Cook would speak at the walls in a language she had never heard of and talk about the Illuminati.
“She almost seemed possessed,” Conklin wrote. “She definitely needed mental health treatment. I almost feel that this could have been prevented if she had been placed somewhere that she was monitored around the clock.”
Conklin also told the Daily News that Cook was "mostly pleasant" and "never tried to hurt anyone."
Conklin said she observed Cook refusing to take medication, which was consistent with previous testimony.