Cynthia Cole’s body was found in her Florida septic tank on Friday, and police have charged her handyman, Keoki Hilo Demich, with her murder. The Florida woman was last seen on Feb. 24 after she attended the Jammin Jensen festival with a group of friends. A motive for the murder is unknown.
Jensen Beach Police charged Keoki Hilo Demich with second-degree murder after they discovered Cole’s body in the septic tank. The body was submerged in four feet of water and when police arrived on the scene, they found the lid of the tank to be slightly ajar.
“I’ve been doing this 40-plus years. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said.
Police added that their investigation is still active and that Keoki Hilo Demich could get additional charges. Officers believe that Cole was killed within a half hour of coming back from the arts festival and that she was murdered in her home before being placed in the septic tank.
While a Florida medical examiner has not positively identified the body as Cynthia Cole, police “have every reason to believe,” that the body is Cole’s. According to reports, Demich had worked for Cynthia Cole for years before her murder.
After the discovery of the body, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office released a statement on Facebook updating the community on the case.
They said, “Late Friday evening and into Saturday morning, Martin County Sheriff’s Detectives located a body believed to be that of 57-year-old Cynthia Cole inside the septic tank of her Jensen Beach home. Detectives spent hours excavating Cole’s back yard, and located the body submerged in the contents of the tank about four feet underground. Shortly afterwards, detectives located and arrested 34-year-old Keoki Hilo Demich and charged him with second degree murder. Keoki performed handyman duties for Ms. Cole.”
Police first became aware that Demich could be a suspect in Cole’s disappearance when they found doorbell video footage that showed the handyman exiting Cole’s car near his home on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Stuart, Florida. Additional footage saw Demich near the vehicle multiple times.
The 34-year-old remains in police custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. Demich is a registered sex offender in Washington state, but not in Florida.
After her body was discovered, many of Cole’s friends spoke out to share their memories of the Florida woman. Her neighbor, Lisa Stiger, was shocked to hear about her murder.
She said, “She was murdered and put in the septic tank. Like, who does that to somebody? It’s just not fair. Cyndi was a beautiful person. It breaks my heart and I literally — out of my kitchen window — that’s what I see, is her house. So, every day I drive by that is what I’m going to see,” Stiger added, talking about the crime scene in the Florida woman’s backyard.
Friends said that Cole was a devout Christian, who loved to travel, explore the outdoors, hang out on the beach, and take photography. Others added that the Florida woman was kind to everyone she met.
“Cyndi was a joy to be around,” Barbara 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.”
Deal had gone to the art festival with Cynthia before her disappearance. She said nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary.
Florida police continue to investigate the murder. They said they will update the community as new information becomes available.