Authorities say woman may have been buried alive in septic tank

Posted at 1:01 PM, March 9, 2022 and last updated 3:14 PM, December 13, 2022

By Jon Shainman

STUART, Fla. (WPTV)  — A Florida woman who was found dead in her septic tank may have been alive when she was placed there, Martin County’s sheriff said Tuesday.

An autopsy report for Cynthia Cole shows that the 57-year-old woman’s manner of death was a homicide, but the cause of death has yet to be determined.

Martin County Sheriff’s Office detectives discover what they believe to be the body of Cynthia Cole inside the septic tank of her Jensen Beach home. (Martin County Sheriff’s Office)

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said the medical examiner’s report showed that Cole had blunt-force trauma to her head and abdomen and also appeared to have suffocated.

“The medical examiner cannot rule out that our victim was actually alive when she was placed into that septic tank,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said. “He’s doing microscopic evidence now, he submitted it for evaluation, so we’ll know definitively if she was alive when she was placed into that septic tank.”

Cole’s body was found early Saturday, weeks after she had been reported missing.

Her longtime handyman, Keoki Demich, has been arrested on a charge of second-degree murder. He’s being held in the Martin County jail on a $750,000 bond.

This story was originally published March 9, by WPTV in West Palm Beach, an E.W. Scripps Company.