OAKLAND -- A career criminal who had recently rekindled a decades-old romance with a federal criminal investigator has been arrested on suspicion of murder more than two months after the Oakland woman was found dead near a Vacaville park.
Randy Alana stands accused of killing Sandra Coke, 50, somewhere in Oakland on or around Aug. 4. Alana and Coke had met and begun a relationship while Coke investigated a capital murder case about 20 years ago.
On Thursday afternoon, Oakland police investigators officially arrested the 56-year-old Alana on suspicion of murder, vehicle theft and grand theft for multiple use of stolen credit cards or ATM cards, according to Alameda County jail records.
Alana has been held in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on a parole hold since Aug. 6, and was booked for the new charges at 3:39 p.m. Thursday, records show.
He has not been formally charged by the Alameda County district attorney, said spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, who declined to comment on the case. Oakland police Sgt. Arturo Bautista declined to comment Thursday evening, referring all inquires to the district attorney's office.
Alana was arrested Aug. 6 at a BART station in Pittsburg after he fought with officers and their police dogs before he was subdued and transported to Santa Rita Jail. At the time of his arrest, Alana was on parole; he had been released from prison in June 2012 after serving 15 years for robbery. He is accused of violating that state prison parole by having "numerous contacts" with Coke despite a stay-away order, failing to charge his GPS monitor and resisting arrest.
After Coke's body was discovered Aug. 9, Alana was declared a "person of interest" by police. He stood to be held on the parole violation at Santa Rita Jail until Nov. 1, but a parole revocation hearing was scheduled for Friday morning. He is also slated to be arraigned on the murder charge Friday afternoon, jail records show.
Police have said Alana was the last person seen with Coke on Aug. 4 after she told family she was picking up a prescription and meeting someone with information about her missing dog.
Neighbors have confirmed Alana had resurfaced at Coke's home in the 600 block of Aileen Street in North Oakland three months before she disappeared. He told Bay Area News Group in a jailhouse interview in mid-August that he had not harmed Coke, but that the two planned to marry.
According to sources with knowledge of the investigation, Coke's Mini Cooper can be seen on video being driven across the Carquinez Bridge not long before her body was allegedly dumped near Vacaville's Lagoon Valley Park. Coke's car was later discovered in a West Oakland parking lot, and one of her cellphones was later found in Richmond.
Oakland police detectives are investigating the killing, signaling that police believe that Coke was killed within city limits and her body dumped in Solano County.
Alana has spent decades in and out of jail and is considered a high-risk sex offender, according to a state-run sex offender registry, which lists undated convictions for two counts of rape, kidnapping with intent to commit a sex offense and oral copulation.
In 1983, Alana was charged with the beating death of Marilyn Pigott, 23, a woman he had known since elementary school. Alana was eventually acquitted.
While in custody awaiting trial for Pigott's slaying, Alana and a fellow inmate were accused of fatally stabbing 40-year-old Al Ingram. Alana pleaded no contest to the killing in March 1988 and received a six-year prison sentence.
The link between Alana and Coke dates back more than 20 years when she worked for the federal public defender's office in Sacramento as an investigator working on mandatory death penalty appeals. The pair met when Coke interviewed Alana while he was incarcerated as part of a death penalty investigation.
Alana claims, and her family has confirmed, that the two had a brief relationship shortly thereafter, but her family said it stopped there.
While Alana continued his life of crime, only out of jail and prison for brief stints in the late 1990s, Coke built her career and went on with her life. On Feb. 2, 1998 -- a time when Alana was out of prison -- delivered a daughter at Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. The birth certificate on record is signed by Coke, but no father is listed.
During the jailhouse interview, Alana said the pair occasionally attended Harmony Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland together on Sundays, including the morning of her disappearance. Interim Harmony pastor Germaine Anderson has confirmed both Coke and Alana were "visitors" but not "members" of the church. He did not recall seeing them on Aug. 4.
Also during the interview, Alana talked of his love for Coke and their life together, but he declined to speak about what happened after Coke was last seen by her 15-year-old daughter about 8:30 p.m. Aug. 4 after leaving her home.
Coke's younger sister, Tanya Coke, who did not return calls or emails for comment Thursday, has disputed all of Alana's claims.
"This is a man with convictions for murder and kidnapping. He was the last person seen with my sister, but claims he has nothing to do with her disappearance and killing," she said in a written statement following the Aug. 17 interview. "He is clearly someone who thinks nothing of lying and manipulating to serve his purposes. Why would we or anyone else believe what he has to say?"