A woman’s body discovered near a Northern California park last week has been identified as a missing federal investigator of death row inmates.
Sandra Coke, 50, was last seen by her family at her Oakland home around 8:30 p.m. on August 4.
Before she vanished, Coke, who works at the Sacramento Federal Public Defender’s Office, told her daughter she was meeting someone with information about the family’s missing dog and said she would return in 30 minutes.
Her 2007 Mini Cooper convertible was discovered the following night in a parking lot about two miles from her home. The discovery of her car prompted a massive search of the Vallejo and Vacaville areas, and her body was discovered near Lagoon Park on August 9.
Authorities did not release additional information about the case. They also would not discuss a cause of death at a press conference Tuesday.
Investigators believe Coke was with her former boyfriend, 56-year-old Randy Alana, on the evening she disappeared, according to an Oakland Police Department news release.
Before Coke’s body was found, Alana, a registered sex offender who dated Coke more than 20 years ago, was arrested for an unspecified parole violation. He’s currently being held at the Santa Rita County Jail in Dublin without bond.
Police have not named him a suspect or charged him with Coke’s death.
HLN reached out to Alana’s attorney, David Klaus, for a comment, but repeated calls were not returned.
Coke’s job at the federal public defender’s office included interviewing death row inmates' relatives and friends to gather information for defense cases.
“All of us in the federal court family are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague and co-worker. Sandra Coke was 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. She will be greatly missed. Our hearts go out to her family,” Chief Judge Alexis Kozinski of the United Stated Court of Appeals for the Nine Circuit said in a statement regarding Coke’s death.
Meanwhile, Coke’s family and friends launched “The Sandra Coke Fund” to provide education and care for her teenage daughter.
“The Coke family is devastated by the loss of our beloved Sandra. She was a loving mother, daughter, sister and auntie, and a shining light in our family; her good cheer, easy laugh and generous hugs will be missed,” the family said in a statement Tuesday posted on KCBS.
“Those of us who were privileged to know Sandra will remember her as an unusually kind, generous and big-hearted person. She passionately devoted her professional life to helping the poor and those who endured difficult childhoods. All of us will miss Sandra’s beautiful, giving spirit,” the family added.
The Oakland Police Department asks anyone with information regarding Coke's death to contact them at 510-238-3641.