Body found in Vacaville, Calif., ID'd as missing investigator

Aug. 13, 2013 at 11:18 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A body discovered about 40 miles east of Oakland, Calif., has been positively identified as Sandra Coke, a missing legal investigator, police said Tuesday.

At a news conference, Officer Johanna Watson, a spokeswoman for Oakland police, said the autopsy determined Coke was a homicide victim, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Watson did not release the cause of death.

The body was discovered Friday in Vacaville, midway between Oakland and Sacramento. Coke was last seen Aug. 4, when she told her teenage daughter she was making a quick trip to the drug store.

Randy Alana, 56, a paroled sex offender who was jailed Aug. 6 on an alleged parole violation, has been named as a person of interest in the case. Investigators say he and Coke dated for a short time many years ago, and she was seen with him Aug. 4 after leaving her home.

A source told the Chronicle investigators have found surveillance footage showing Alana putting gas in Coke's Mini Cooper. The car was found in Oakland this week.

Coke, 50, was an investigator for federal public defenders in Sacramento. Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, described her as "an admired and respected professional working in a highly challenging area of the law."

"She was passionate about her work, devoted to her clients and colleagues and performed her duties with fairness and integrity," he added.

Friends said most of her investigations involved working on appeals, including clients sentenced to death.

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