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Missing California woman was federal investigator

Posted: August 7, 2013 2:00 p.m.
Updated: August 7, 2013 2:00 p.m.
 

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A California woman missing since Sunday worked as an investigator for the federal public defender's office to ensure death sentences were fair, her supervisor said Wednesday.

Sandra Coke, 50, of Oakland investigated cases that were appealed to federal court, said Joseph Schlesinger, chief of the death penalty appeals unit of the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the Eastern District of California.

As part of her job, Coke interviewed convicts and their families and acquaintances, sometimes traveling to other parts of the country and even internationally.

Schlesinger said it would be unusual if her work and disappearance were related. Oakland police declined to answer further questions about the case.

Schlesinger said he did not know of any threats against Coke.

"I've been doing this work a long time," he said. "I've never heard of anyone being victimized in the course of representing people and carrying out these constitutional requirements."

Oakland police reportedly found Coke's 2007 Mini Cooper convertible near her home. Her cellphone also has been discovered, said Tanya Coke, her sister.

Sandra Coke was believed to be in good mental and physical condition. She was last seen Sunday, when she told her daughter that she was going to meet somebody she thought had information about her missing dog, Tanya Coke said.

The dog apparently was abducted during a May break-in at Coke's home. She had been visiting pet shelters, canvassing neighborhoods and sending out fliers to locate the dog. Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger said it would be completely uncharacteristic for Coke to take off.

"She is completely dedicated to her work and a stable, responsible person with a teenage daughter who is at home," said Schlesinger. "I am certain that she did not wander off."

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