An East Texas woman who was found unresponsive on a Florida beach last week and later declared dead attended Gilmer High School and was a mother of two.

The Key West, Florida Police Department is investigating Candice Cooper's death and believe that it was possibly a homicide, according to a department news release. 

Cooper was known as Candice Wesson or by her nickname Candi Joy to her high school classmates, according to a post on the Gilmer High School Class of 1998 Facebook page.  

The post reads, "So very sad to learn of the passing of our classmate Candice Wesson (Candi Joy). Had she stayed in a GISD she would have graduated with us. She was a sweet, funny, free spirited person who will be missed. Prayers to her two boys and their families."

The Key West Police Department news releases said that Cooper was with her companion, Billy Baker, at the time she was found floating and unresponsive at Smather's Beach. 

Key West Police were called to Smather's Beach at 8 p.m. Friday. Baker told police he was near her when he noticed her floating and unresponsive in the water. Police said Baker brought her to shore and called 911 and began CPR.

Cooper was taken to a Key West hospital where she was pronounced dead. The case is still under investigation by the Key West Police Department. 

Cooper was the mother of two children and lived in Big Sandy with her boyfriend Billy Baker, according to a person who knew them. 

Candi Joy's social media account's suggest she was in a relationship with Baker. A photograph of the two on a beach was posted on Thursday.  

Baker is the owner and project manager at Infinity Marble and Tile in Tyler, according to social media. Phone calls to the business went unanswered. 

TWITTER: @LouAnnCampbell 


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I started working at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in June 2016. I am a retired U.S. Air Force Sr. Master Sergeant. After a 21-year military career, in Security Forces, the military police of the Air Force, I went back to college and studied journalism.