ST. LOUIS — A suburban St. Louis man, one of five accused of torturing and mutilating a runaway teen who authorities say was a sex slave for years, faces new federal charges that he illegally possessed a cache of guns.
Federal grand jurors in St. Louis indicted 32-year-old Bradley Cook of Kirkwood on Thursday on a felony charge that he unlawfully transported firearms including a Czech-made rifle, shotguns and pistols in December last year.
Although Cook remains in federal custody on charges filed in Kansas City in the alleged sex-slave case, he is challenging that detainment and wants to be released. Federal prosecutors in St. Louis are pressing to have Cook ordered to stay behind bars pending trial on the weapons count, casting the man as a dangerous threat to the community and a "serious" flight risk.
Thursday's charge likely will replace a Kansas City weapons count, which Cook's attorneys are seeking to have thrown out on claims that it wrongly asserts Cook possessed the guns in western Missouri, where he's never lived. The guns actually were seized from Cook's home, on the other side of the state.
Online court records Friday did not list an attorney for Cook on the latest charge. A message left with Carter Law, Cook's St. Louis lawyer in the sex case, was not returned.
Cook has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, sex trafficking, racketeering and weapons charges in the sex case. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted of the trafficking count.
The Kansas City federal indictment alleges that Edward Bagley Sr., 43, enticed the runaway girl described in court papers as mentally deficient and a frequent resident of foster homes to live with him in his remote trailer house in Lebanon, Mo., in 2002, when the girl was 16.
Authorities have said that Bagley — described by investigators as the victim's "master" who went by the name Master Ed — promised the girl that she would become a model and dancer with a great life. Instead, prosecutors say, the teenager was given drugs and sexually abused. When she turned 18, investigators say, she was sexually tortured, persuaded to sign a "sex slave contract" and tattooed with several slave symbols.
Bagley allegedly advertised online and in-person torture sessions, with Cook and the three other defendants accused of paying or bartering with cigarettes, computer hard drives, meat and other items to take part in the sexual abuse and torture.
Prosecutors have accused Bagley of numerous torture and mutilation acts, including whipping the young woman, electrically shocking her, locking her in a dog cage and forcing her head under water. He also is accused of performing abortions on her and forcing her to strip at adult clubs. Prosecutors alleged that he threatened her and demonstrated his ability to kill her by shooting animals she cared for in front of her, along the way bragging about bodies he'd buried.
The alleged torture and abuse caught the eyes of authorities in early 2009, when the woman was taken to a hospital in cardiac arrest that investigators believe happened while she was being suffocated and electrocuted during a torture session.
Sam Benson, an FBI agent, testified in September that Cook frequently visited Bagley's home to have sex with the captive victim, often jolting her with a crank-activated phone rigged with wires attached to parts of the woman's body. Benson testified that the victim didn't enjoy the torture and experienced a feeling of dread — much like a person feels when a best friend dies — whenever Bagley told her Cook was coming to the home.
"He was the most excessive individual to use that crank phone," Benson added.
He said Cook was belligerent when FBI agents came to his home, that he forced his live-in girlfriend of several years to take part in sado-masochistic activities that she didn't like, and that he had been arrested several times for unpaid traffic tickets.
Law, Cook's attorney, has portrayed Cook as a responsible member of the St. Louis community who had a real-estate business and restored old cars. Cook had no criminal record other than the unpaid tickets and was not a risk to flee, Law said.