Kansas Cold Cases: Tirell Ocobock

Updated: Jul. 3, 2022 at 9:50 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - It’s been nearly 50 years since a teenager was found dead along a rural road just outside Topeka.

The 1976 killing of 18-year-old Tirell Ocobock is the oldest case in the Kansas Cold Case Deck. The special set of playing cards from the Kansas Dept. of Corrections aimed at generating new tips in unsolved crimes.

Raena Ocobock Sommers was only 10-years-old when her big sister was killed. Family photos show them smiling alongside their two other sisters and their parents.

“I always think of Tirell as laughing,” Raena said. “She was many things: creative; an animal lover; she was fond of the arts; independent. She was a lot of fun. She was always singing and joking. She was a great big sister

The laughter ended April 26, 1976. Tirell’s body was found near SW 2nd and Urish Rd., just of Topeka’s city limits.

Det. John Culver of the Shawnee Co. Sheriff’s Office continues investigating the case today.

“(Tirell) was found badly beaten and partially nude,” he said. “She also had multiple puncture wounds to her body that came from a very unique type of tool.”

Raena said she remembers very clearly waking up to all the people at their house the morning the news came.

“It just has a profound effect on your life, and on the lives of my entire family,” she said. “You just don’t ever get over something like that. It’s always with you.”

Tirell was living not far from downtown Topeka at the time. Around 7 a.m. the day she died, she set off walking.

“She was planning on returning a small puppy to the veterinarian hospital she was working at. She also told her boyfriend that she would either call a friend for a ride or she would walk,” Det. Culver said. “The puppy was actually found near her, unharmed that day -- and that’s all we know.”

Detectives hope a new effort from the Kansas Dept. of Corrections could help them learn more. Tirell is the queen of diamonds in the Kansas Cold Case Deck. The cards will be distributed in the state’s jails and prisons in hopes of sparking conversations that could lead to new information - even more than four decades later.

“It’s for the families - for the families of the victim and for the victim themselves,” Det. Culver said. “We owe it to them to do our best and to do our job and to get these things solved.”

Det. Culver said they also are motivated for themselves and all the prior investigators, who put so much work into trying to bring justice to the victims.

Raena said her family was honored to be chosen for the new effort.

“My entire family, we appreciate any and all attempts to get more information,” Raena said. “I know the case is never closed. That word ‘closure’ you hear all the time. You don’t ever get closure, but it would be nice to know the why and the who.”

They would like to know so they can focus on Tirell’s life, and put her death to rest.

“She was loved by everyone,” Raena said. “We share, we talk about her. We just have made sure she’s not forgotten.”

If you know anything about Tirrell Ocobock’s death - or any cold case - call the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-KS-CRIME.

Prior KS Cold Case Profiles:

John Waller

Joshua Jernagin

Clarence “Butch” Lavin

Arthur Goebel

Gary Leo Nelson

Charles Giles

James Winston III

Mercedes Holford and Crystal Andrews

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