Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
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Oakland Police say a body discovered last week near Lagoon Valley Park during a search in Solano County is that of missing federal investigator Sandra Coke.
Coke was last seen by her 15-year-old daughter on Aug. 4th. The 50-year-old was reportedly following up on a tip about her stolen dog.
Oakland Police say Coke was the victim of a homicide, but they released no details about the cause of her death.
“The Coke family is devastated by the loss of our beloved Sandra,” her family said in a statement. “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.”
In her job as a federal investigator, Coke helped convicted felons appeal their cases, including some involving the death penalty. In at least one case, Coke saved a life, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Her detailed interviews with the family of a man facing the death penalty helped to expose his troubled background, sparing his life.
“She was passionate about her work, devoted to her clients and colleagues, and performed her duties with fairness and integrity,” Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, told the Chronicle about Coke, who also called her “an admired and respected professional working in a highly challenging area of the law.”
Coke spent her career advocating for death row inmates, said family and friends. In her final job as an investigator working for the Office of the Federal Defender in the Eastern District of California in Sacramento, she helped overturn a wrongfully obtained murder conviction in 2001.