Suspect in murder of woman found in septic tank: 'He stated he lies often'

Suspect in murder of woman found in septic tank: ‘He stated he lies often’

(As originally published with additional photos and video, Mon, March 7th 2022, 3:27 PM EST)

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Investigators say a series of lies by handyman Keoki Demich led to his arrest for the murder of Cynthia Cole.

The 57-year-old victim was found by chance on Friday night, submerged in a septic tank at her home in Jensen Beach.

Cole’s friends hadn’t seen her since Feb. 24 when she posted from the Jammin’ Jensen event on social media and told deputies she usually posted every day, usually showing the sunset.

Also, her 2015 gray Jeep Cherokee was missing.

According to the arrest report, a friend filed missing person report last Tuesday, March 1. Deputies said the friend told them Cole “had not been seen in approximately four or five days and it was uncommon for the victim to not contact anyone over during [sic] that timeframe.”

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Deputies checked outside her home and looked inside “and did not see anything of obvious concern.”

The next day, they met with the friend and went in through a back door. “There was spoiled food in a pan on top of the stove,” according to the report. “There were no signs of a burglary or struggle inside of the residence. I observed a shotgun leaning against a wall in what appeared to be the master bedroom.”

The deputy added, “The victim was not in the home and it appeared she had not been home for some time.”

Next, investigators spoke with a friend who said Cole missed a party, the previous Friday, “which she would not normally do, and people from her friend group were asking about her. [She] stated the victim was ‘not one to disappear.’”

Authorities also spoke to a handyman who said he left for Tennessee on Feb. 19 and had just returned. He said he gave Cole the shotgun “because she stated she was afraid. I asked [the handyman] if he knew why she was afraid and he stated, ‘No.'”

Another friend said there was a man who’d been doing work at Cole’s house for months, but he “was going to stop working at the house because his wife believed there was an affair going on. [The friend] stated she lives near the victim and the victim’s vehicle has not been in the driveway since Thursday (February 24th). She stated the victim usually posts daily sunset photographs on social media, but she has not recently.”

Detectives took pictures inside the home, removed some items as evidence, and entered Cole’s name in databases as a missing person.

Suspect in murder of woman found in septic tank: 'He stated he lies often'
Detectives located and arrested 34-year-old Keoki Hilo Demich and charged him with second-degree murder. (Martin Co. Sheriff’s Office)

Then, investigators found cellphone location data showing she was near her home on the evening of Feb. 25 and “an outgoing text message to a phone number later determined to be the phone number of Keoki Demich stated, “Hey key [sic], sent you some money to finish the house off I’ll call you Saturday morning when I’m on my way.”

On Wednesday, March 2, a detective spoke with Demich at his home in Stuart. According to the arrest report, “Keoki Demich provided his phone and passcode and gave consent for the Sheriff’s Office to look through the phone. A forensic downloade of the phone was completed. A “Cash App” application showing that on the morning of the victim’s phone’s last location information (February 25, 2022), there was a $567.75 transaction from the victim’s Cash App account to Keoki Demich’s Cash App account at approximately 0346 hours. The text message from the victim’s phone to Keoki Demich’s phone was not present on Keoki’s phone download, possibly indicating the text message had been deleted from the phone.”

The next day, Thursday March 3, “Keoki Demich agreed to come to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and he was transported from his residence to a CID [Criminal Investigations Division] office interview room. [Two detectives] spoke with Keoki Demich. I informed him he was free to leave at any time. Keoki provided information about his relationship with the victim and he stated he would regularly work at the victim’s house on the weekends.”

When asked how Cole would pay him for his work, “He stated it was only cash.”

When asked if if she ever paid through online means, “he replied that she had not.”

He said he didn’t have a vehicle and the previous Tuesday night was the last time he’d been to the victim’s home when he and a housemate went to check on Cole’s air conditioner.

When asked “about the missing text message from the victim’s phone to his phone on February 25, 2022 at 0239 hours. He initially stated he dropped his phone at a gas station and lost it on Thursday afternoon (February 24, 2022). He obtained a replacement phone, but there were text messages that he did not receive during the time he did not have a phone, so he did not ever see the text message. He then changed his story and stated he dropped his phone while writing his bicycle to work on Friday morning (February 25, 2022). I confronted him about money being transferred to his Cash App account from the victim’s account after he had previous told me he never received money from her in that manner. He said he believed it would look suspicious if he received money from the victim or on the time she went missing, so he did not want to mention it. He admitted to lying about the phone and he stated he lies often.”

The next day, Friday March 4, Cole’s jeep was found “in a parking lot near the Stuart Fellowship Hall. A visual check through the window showed the vehicle was unoccupied. There was pollen gathered on the vehicle, indicating it had not moved for an extended time. Surveillance video in the area showed a male matching Kioki Demich’s general physical description walking multiple times towards and away from the area where the victim’s vehicle was located.”

Then, detectives got a subpoena for Demich’s Lyft account. The Lyft records showed Keoki Demich’s account obtain a ride from his address to a destination address of which is the victim’s address. The date of ride was shown to be February 24, 2022, at 1906 hours. This was the last ride shown in the records.

Later, at about 5:45 p.m., a detective and a sergeant arrived to check out Cole’s home. They entered through the backyard. “After checking the home interior and finding nothing of note, they again left through the backyard. [The detective] noticed a green sewer-type pipe and observed there were multiple screws unscrewed from the pipe cover. [The detective] opened the cover and observed what he believed to be a deceased human body inside the pipe. [They] exited the property and the property was secured.

After that, another detective got a search warrant for Cole’s home and they “were able to remove the body located in the septic tank in the back yard. The body was that of a white female and the female was unclothed. The female had an apparent gash on the left side of her head above her temple. The female was missing a tooth; detectives located a picture of the victim with a similar missing tooth.

Finally, they “spoke with Keoki Demich, who had agreed to come to the Sheriff’s Office. Keoki Demich initially maintained his previous story that he was not at the victim’s home on the Thursday night into Friday morning that she went missing. After being confronted with his Lyft ride-sharing application record for that night, he changed his story and said he got a ride to the “Jammin Jensen” event and walked home afterwards. He then stated he did take a Lyft ride to the victim’s home to ask her to pay him money for work, then walked home. He initially stated he did not drive her vehicle that night. He again changed his story and said that he drove the vehicle from the residence and eventually parked it at the Stuart Fellowship building, at the victim’s request. Keoki Demich asked for an attorney and the interview concluded.”

It turns out, Demich, 34, has been arrested in the past.

In a news conference, Monday, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said Demich was a convicted sex offender in the state of Washington.

That was years ago, and the label did not carry over when he moved to Florida.

His home in Stuart was a halfway house.

Now, Demich is charged with second-degree murder. He’s in jail in lieu of $750,000 bond.

In the arrest report, the lead investigator had written, “Due to the heinous circumstances of this incident, I am requesting no bond until first appearance.”

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