Friends, coworkers join search for missing Oakland woman


"You read about these stories in the media," said the missing woman's sister, Tanya Coke. "They happen to other people. They don't happen to you. And it's hard."

Tanya's last couple of days have been difficult to say the least. But the presence of so many people who'd come to pass out flyers Wednesday helped her keep hope alive.

They split up in small groups, leafleting areas where Sandra may have gone the night she disappeared. It included the neighborhood around her home.

The missing woman's teenage daughter last saw her Sunday night when she left the house, saying she would be back in a half hour.

The 50-year-old woman worked as a death penalty appeals investigator for the federal defender in Sacramento.

Dozens of her colleagues came Wednesday including her boss, Joseph Schlesinger. He doesn't think anyone connected to her cases would kidnap her.

"In the 20 years I've been doing it, I've never heard of anyone being targeted for the work that they do," Schlesinger said.

They canvassed the area where her car was found Monday, the day after she went missing. And also in Richmond, where she had posted flyers, offering a $1,000 reward for the return of her beloved King Charles spaniel, named Ginny. The dog was stolen in May, when Sandra's home was burglarized.

Her best friend, Wendy Springer, thinks Tanya's disappearance may have something to do with her pet.

"People had called before saying 'I have the dog' or 'I've seen the dog,'" she said. "And she went to meet them or to talk to them and it was lies."

Some people, including Sandra's sister Tanya, also heard that someone had once asked for money in return for the dog and that person may have been arrested.

All Tanya knows is her sister's final words to her daughter when she left home.

"She said that she was going out Sunday evening to meet somebody who had information about her dog," she said.

There are also theories that Sandra's disappearance may have something to do with her recent internet dating. Tanya says she went out on at least one date.

"She indicated that it, you know, was a perfectly pleasant meeting but was nothing out of the ordinary in a public place," said the missing woman's sister.

The internet dating may have something to do with Oakland police searching Sandra's home Wednesday and looking at her computer.

Police describe Coke as a black woman standing 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. She has a medium complexion, brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black-and-white shirt and dark jeans.

Fliers are being posted in Coke's neighborhood and in the area near where her car was found, Young said. Volunteers will also post fliers at prominent intersections in Oakland, he said.

"We're trying to keep her face in the public eye as much as possible," he said.

Anyone who may have seen Coke is asked to call the Oakland Police Department's missing persons unit at (510)-238-3641, Crime Stoppers of Oakland at (510)-777-8672, tip line at (510)-777-2805, toll-free tip hotline at (855)-TIPS-247, family and friends tip line at (415)-385-5190, or email tips to

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