TIFTON -- No solid leads have developed in the homicide death of the woman whose body was found off Wal-Mart Way Sept. 23. What has been determined, according to authorities, is that the Tifton death and that of a Sparks woman found Sunday morning are unrelated.
Officials and relatives of Candida "Candy" Marion Sparks Cook, 32, continue to urge people to come forward with information.
"We have interviewed several dozens of people and we are continuing to do that," said Capt. Bobby Brannen of the Tift County Sheriff's Department's Criminal Investigation Division. "I think there is probably someone out there who has a tidbit they could share and it would be something we could work with."
Brannen's department and agents with the Sylvester office of the GBI are investigating Cook's death.
A farmer checking his fields found Cook's body near Henry Tift Myers Airport near a wooded and isolated area off Wal-Mart Way and called E-911at 8:20 a.m. Analysis of a fingerprint at the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta positively identified the body as that of Cook's. The lab also determined the cause of death as manual strangulation.
No definite time of Cook's death could be determined, but Cook had apparently been dead several days before her body was found.
"It's awful to have to go through this," said Cook's mother, Martha Bowen. "We just want to encourage anyone who has information to call."
Bowen said she "fell to her knees" when GBI agents came to her Berrien County home to tell her that her daughter had died.
Bowen talked Wednesday about her daughter's drug addiction and how that addiction put her in danger.
"I tried to encourage her to stay off the streets," Bowen said. "I have wrang my hands and cried and begged her not to do drugs."
Bowen said she talked with one of her sons Sunday and the two recalled how they once called an agency in Berrien County in hopes of finding some assistance for Candy. That agency, she said, referred her to a Tifton agency.
"They said they couldn't do anything until she broke the law," Bowen said. "I'm not saying it would have saved her life, but maybe they could have sent her to Thomasville."
A memorial service for Cook was held Sunday and her cremated ashes were buried at Pinetta Baptist Church's cemetery in Irwin County.
"I know she is in good hands now and she is clean, but she is not at rest yet," Bowen said. "She had her problems, but she had a good heart."
Brannen said pinpointing Cook's whereabouts Friday and Saturday is critical to solving the murder.
"If someone can tell us they saw her Friday or Saturday, we would love to talk with them," Brannen said. "We have some gaps."
Brannen said some people who have come forward have been genuine in their attempts to help investigators, but people get days and times confused.
"We have no eyewitnesses and little physical evidence," Brannen said. "We are at the mercy of people who saw her day-to-day and we have to depend on that. Nobody has the right to take another's life and we are doing what we can to solve this."
Anyone who talked to or saw Cook recently is urged to call E-911 or the sheriff's department at 388-6020.
Brannen said he had been in contact with GBI investigators and "there is absolutely no connection between the Cook County death" and that of Cook's.
No arrest has been made in the death of Janina Cara Danforth, 28, of Sparks. Danforth's body was discovered Sunday morning in a ditch off Homer Joyner Road in Cook County near Lenox. John Heinen, GBI Special Agent in charge of the investigation, said an autopsy was conducted Tuesday.
The preliminary examination that resulted in a conclusion that Danforth's injuries were caused by her being struck by a vehicle holds true, Heinen said, but no official cause of death has been determined.
"No specific cause of death will be determined until the results of toxicology tests," Heinen said.
Heinen said the vehicle tested for evidence did not belong to Danforth.
To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.
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