My School Friend Was Murdered By Her Mother’s Ex-Boyfriend

4 min readNov 12, 2021

Jasmine McDonald died on November 12th of 2003. Her body was found in the basement of the home next to hers.

I met Jasmine McDonald in 3rd grade, and we played every day at recess together. I remember her sweet smile and contagious laughter.

This article was difficult for me to write, but it’s important that I share her story because I think about her all the time. Jasmine was an eighth-grader and straight-A student at Sulzberger Middle School at the time of her death. She liked rap music and braiding her hair, and wanted to be a doctor when she grew up.

McDonald’s mother had a “tortured” and increasingly abusive relationship with Peter Cook that fell apart in June 2003. Charlene McDonald got a protective from abuse order preventing Cook from having contact with the family. However, Cook returned in October, Charlene McDonald testified and said that Cook beat her severely while she was on the living room couch. According to Charlene the attack ended when Jasmine McDonald and her brother jumped on Cook and he fled.

Charlene McDonald had two children with Cook over the course of their 12-year relationship. Days after that attack, Charlene McDonald said, Cook returned again and threw a garbage can through the window of the rowhouse.

Jasmine was only 13 years old when she disappeared from her home in West Philadelphia. The night of her disappearance, Charlene McDonald (her mother) found blood smeared on the kitchen window and curtains of their home. Police thought she had run away, despite the blood being found in the home. It’s not surprising that Police didn’t treat her case as a missing child case. One example of this is that 247 missing teens in New York and California found 34% of white teens’ cases were covered by the media, compared to only 7% of Black teens and 14% of Latino kids (Whitehurst, Tang 2021.)

A few days later, neighbors searching for her found a body in the basement of a vacant rowhouse next door to her own. Jasmine had been raped and stabbed in the throat multiple times. Peter Cook, 32 years old, broke into the home he once shared with McDonald’s mother and repeatedly stabbed the teenager in the throat in her upstairs bedroom. Cook then allegedly moved her partially nude body into…


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