BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fresh flowers peeked through the spokes of the roadside memorial to cyclist and father Thomas Palermo, less than five years after his death in a Roland Park bike lane.

The ghost bike marks the site of the tragedy has now outlasted the prison sentence of Palermo’s killer- former high ranking Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook.

She is a free woman again after serving just three and a half years in lockup. She was released from prison Tuesday morning.

Cook was originally sentenced to seven years for driving drunk and texting when she ran into Palermo two days after Christmas in 2014 and left him to die in the street.

It wasn’t her first time intoxicated in the driver’s seat. Records show back in 2010 on the Eastern Shore, she was so drunk she drove on a shredded tire.

At some point in between those crimes, she gave a sermon on road safety.

“We won’t be able to stop on a dime if driving conditions get dangerous, or if an animal, or, God forbid, a human being should step out in front of us,” Cook said.

Last fall, Cook and her attorney stood in a Baltimore court room petitioning for her early release.

The request was denied.

“We advocate for the damned, and that’s our job, and we make no apology for that,” Cook’s attorney said.


The Palermo family asked the judge before that hearing to keep Cook behind bars.

In a letter his father wrote out, he said, “I have received a life sentence of grief and sorrow,”

Cook’s attorney declined to speak with WJZ on camera Tuesday.

Her next step will be probation.

Kimberly Eiten