Woman found dead at Keys beach called ‘sweet, funny, free spirited person’


A Texas woman’s death last week in Key West might have been a homicide, police said Monday.

Candice Cooper, 38, of Big Sandy, Texas., was found by police after 8 p.m. Friday on Smathers Beach after her companion, Billy Baker, 48, had pulled her from the water.

Baker said he was in the water with Cooper when he noticed her floating and unresponsive, police said, so he brought her to shore and called 911 and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Cooper was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Initial findings by the county medical examiner show the death may have not been a natural one.

“Preliminary findings indicate her death might be a homicide,” said police spokeswoman Alyson Crean. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Detectives are investigating “suspicious circumstances” of the death, Crean said.

Cooper, known to friends as Candi Joy, is survived by two sons and Baker was her boyfriend, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

“She was a sweet, funny, free spirited person who will be missed,” read a post on the Gilmer High School Class of 1998 Facebook page, which called her a classmate. “Prayers to her two boys and their families.”