Florida man receives 3 life sentences for slaying of woman found in septic tank

STUART, Fla. — A South Florida man who pleaded guilty to the slaying of a woman whose body was recovered in a septic tank was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison on Tuesday.

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Keoki Hilo Demich, 34, of Stuart, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, burglary of an occupied dwelling with assault or battery, sexual battery with great force, grand theft and grand theft of a motor vehicle, according to Treasure Coast Newspapers. The life sentences were handed down for the first three charges, WPEC-TV reported.

Cynthia Cole, 57, of Jensen Beach, had been missing since Feb. 24, Treasure Coast Newspapers reported. An overnight dig at the woman’s home revealed a body in the tank, which was buried four feet underground, according to the newspaper. The remains were identified as Cole’s.

Cole had last been seen alive at the Jammin’ Jensen event in downtown Jensen Beach, WPTV reported.

Demich, who investigators said worked as a handyman for Cole, was sentenced immediately after his guilty plea. He was a registered sex offender in Washington state, according to WPEC.

Ashley Bevensee, one of Cole’s three daughters, addressed the court and said Demich had been in their lives for years and she had met him many times. She said they are the same age and that throughout the years, he told her Cole was “like a second mother to him.”

Bevensee said she found Christmas cards from Demich indicating he loved her and was grateful for her being in his life, Treasure Coast Newspapers reported.

“I will never understand how you do this to someone who you call a second mother,” she said.

Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer told Demich that the sentence meant that “there’s only one way you’re going to leave prison, which is when you decease of old age or some disease.”