JENSEN BEACH, Fla. — The Martin County sheriff said Monday a handyman who's accused of killing a woman and throwing her body in a septic tank had known her for years.
"You just can’t fathom the crime that happened here," said Lisa Steiger, who knew the victim. "That she was murdered and thrown in her septic tank. It's just sad."
With flowers and pinwheels, Steiger is trying to brighten Cynthia Cole's yard in honor of her neighbor.
"She would have loved the flowers and the butterflies," Steiger said. "That's how she was. She was very earthly, down to earth."
Cole's body was discovered over the weekend. She had not been seen in a week.
Detectives arrested Keoki Demich, Cole's handyman, on a charge of second-degree murder.
"Saw that gentlemen every weekend for two years doing the lawn doing the maintenance," neighbor Len Goldfarb said.
"He was not on our radar. Never had trouble with him, never had a local arrest. We were not tracking him," Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said Monday.
Snyder said Demich made a number of statements investigators easily refuted, and video shows Demich leaving the victim's car in Stuart shortly after Cole was last seen.
"There are clear signs of traumatic injury to the victim," Snyder said.
The sheriff said Cole and Demich had known each other for years.
"As far as we know, there hadn't been any trouble with the relationship," Snyder said.
An autopsy has yet to be completed. The arrest affidavit said Cole suffered a head injury.
"What’s not to be shocked by a thing like that? It's a quiet neighborhood," Goldfarb said.
Demich is being held in the Martin County jail on a $750,000 bond.