Janesville56.6°

Beating victim remains in coma

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Ted Sullivan
May 20, 2009
— Investigators say they can't rule out a random attack in the May 10 beating of a rural Orfordville woman described as a friendly neighbor who helped downtrodden kids.

Sandra L. Cole, 47, of 3119 S. Old Highway 11, No. 35, Orfordville, remained in a coma Tuesday at Mercy Hospital in Janesville, and her condition might not change, Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden said.


Cole was found unconscious at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 10, in her home in Country Courts Trailer Home Park, officials said.


The attack might have been random, Spoden said, but the assaulter likely intended to target a trailer park resident because the neighborhood is isolated and invisible from any roads.


No similar assaults have been reported to indicate a pattern of crime, Spoden said.


People are not believed to be in danger, he said, but residents should practice good safety techniques and lookout for anything unusual.


Investigators have no suspect in the attack, he said, and evidence is awaiting analysis at a crime lab.


Detectives also are awaiting results from the crime lab to determine whether Cole was sexually assaulted, Spoden said.


Complicating the investigation is that Cole is unconscious and can't be interviewed, he said.


A deputy was conducting a burglary investigation at a neighbor's home when Cole's family member reported her "down," sheriff's officials said.


It appeared Cole had been lying injured since the previous night, the same night the neighbor's home was burglarized, sheriff's officials said.


Detectives have concluded through interviews that the burglary and the attack are not related, Spoden said.


Country Courts has an upper and lower court along a gravel, dead-end road. It is surrounded by farmland. The trailer homes are close together. Neighbors are close-knit.


Sam Woollums, who lives across the street from Cole, said Cole was a wonderful neighbor.


She often took in troubled teens, he said, and she scolded kids if they caused trouble in the neighborhood.


"She's like the trailer park mother," Woollums said. "She'd get out there and holler at them, tell them to knock it off and get out of here."


She often gave neighbors water or coffee, he said, and she let people use her telephone.


"If there was anybody in the trailer park that needed anything, she'd give it to them," he said. "She's a woman that never had anything, but she deserved everything."


Cole liked gardening, playing on her computer and socializing with neighbors, Woollums said. Everyone knew her.


"She was the type of person that knew everything about everybody," he said. "Everybody around here is pretty much devastated that of all people, this happened to Sandy."


Tonya Kinney, who lives across from Cole, said Cole had five children. She was a single mother. She also had three dogs, two birds, one cat and several fish.


"She loved animals," Kinney said.


Cole worked hard at Swiss Colony in Monroe, Kinney said, and she wanted to help her children pay for college.


Cole kept her home clean, she said, and she welcomed everyone inside.


"I don't understand why anybody would have done something like this," Kinney said. "She was the type of person that would pretty much give you the shirt off her back."


Dewayne Morrison, a next-door neighbor, said Cole has lived near him for about eight years. He said she always made a point to say, "Hi."


"She's nice to everybody," Morrison said. "She was always good to the kids in the neighborhood."


Cole often was outside raking or mowing her yard. She gave neighbors sugar, bread or juice if they needed it, Morrison said.


"I don't know why anybody would want to do this to her. I don't understand that at all," he said. "There is no rhyme or reason as to why this would happen to her."



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