Friends and neighbors of a missing Florida woman found dead in a septic tank are struggling to find answers in her gruesome slaying, saying she “didn’t deserve” to be buried in her backyard.
A body believed to be Cynthia Cole, 57, was discovered submerged early Saturday in the backyard of her Jensen Beach home. Police said her handyman of several years, Keoki Hilo Demich, 34, likely killed the missing mom before disposing of her body in the cesspool — accusations that enraged her friends and neighbors, WPBF reported.
“She was murdered and put in the septic tank,” neighbor Lisa Stiger tearfully told the station. “Like, who does that to somebody? It’s just not fair.”
Cole, also known as Cyndi, was last seen with friends at the Jammin Jensen art festival in Jensen Beach on Feb. 24. One of her neighbors and close friends, Barbara Deal, went with her and said nothing unusual happened during the outing.
“She had a fun night and was ready to go home and said goodbye and we never knew that we’d never see her again,” Deal said.
Cole, a devout Christian, loved being outdoors, especially at the beach, and enjoyed traveling and photography, friends told WPBF. They were dumbfounded as to why anyone would hurt her.
“Cyndi was a beautiful person,” Stiger continued before noting the excavated site in Cole’s backyard. “It breaks my heart and I literally – out of my kitchen window – that’s what I see, is her house. So everyday I drive by that is what I’m going to see.”
Demich, of Stuart, was working on renovations at Cole’s house, according to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. A medical examiner must identify the body, but detectives have “every reason” to be believe it’s that of Cole, sheriff officials said Saturday.
Security footage showed Demich getting out of Cole’s car near his home on the same night she vanished, Sheriff William Snyder told WPBF.
Deputies then went back to Cole’s home after Demich was arrested Friday for second-degree murder and found the top layer of soil disturbed above the septic tank. A body was later found inside, Snyder said.
“I’ve been doing this 40-plus years, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Snyder said.
A message seeking additional comment from the sheriff’s office was not immediately returned early Monday.
Deal, meanwhile, said Cole was an affable woman who impressed everyone she met.
“Cyndi was a joy to be around,” Deal said. “She had a lot of friends. Everybody loved Cyndi. She was kind to everyone in all walks of life. She was a special person. She didn’t deserve it. Nobody deserves it. I’m going to miss her, I miss her already.”
Another friend, Victoria Boyd, said she’ll try her best not to think of how investigators discovered Cole’s body.
“This is not how we want to think of Cynthia,” Boyd told WPEC. She is not buried in some god-awful grave.”