Florida Keys

Her boyfriend said he tried to save his Candi Joy. Cops call it murder


The boyfriend of a woman vacationing in Key West last August now stands accused of her murder.

Billy Earl Baker, 48, of Lindale, Texas, was arrested Monday at his home on a warrant for the second-degree murder of Candi Cooper in Key West. On Tuesday, he remained in custody of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office in Texas.

“Baker will be extradited to Monroe County for prosecution,” Key West police spokeswoman Alyson Crean said Tuesday. “He is being held on $1 million bond.”

Cooper, 48, of Big Sandy, Texas, was pulled from the water at Smathers Beach on Aug. 4, 2017. Police arrived on the scene at about 8 p.m.

On Tuesday, Crean said the cause of death was “manual strangulation by drowning.”

baker, billy

Baker initially told police he was in the water with Cooper when he noticed her floating and unresponsive, 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.

Cooper, known to friends as Candi Joy, was survived by two sons, 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.”

Gwen Filosa: @KeyWestGwen