Reporting Anjali Hemphill
MODESTO (CBS13) – A missing person’s case is now a homicide investigation after the body found near a Modesto high school on Friday night was identified Saturday as that of a woman who hadn’t been seen in almost a month.
“Eldoris was the happiest person you’ll ever meet. She had a smile that would make the room light up; she was a beautiful, beautiful person,” Eldoris Graham’s friend Julia Denslow said.
The body was found at Creekwood Drive and Claus Road near Johansen High School in a secluded area under the pedestrian bridge at about 7:30 p.m. Friday after a woman walking by reported seeing something suspicious.
On Saturday, the Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office identified the body as that of missing 28-year-old Eldoris Christine Graham of Modesto.
“I don’t see how anybody could get upset enough to hurt somebody like that. Not only that, but to throw her out like she’s a piece of trash,” friend Christine Perry said.
Modesto police became aware of the disappearance of Graham on Dec. 15 when Graham’s mother called the police after she failed to show up for work. Officers learned Graham’s mother last spoke to Graham on Dec. 13, when Graham said she was going to be traveling to the Bay Area with her live-in boyfriend, 36-year-old Anthony Devon Coxum.
“We first had knowledge that he was hitting her at work, and we tried to encourage her to leave at the time. And it didn’t happen, and it was too late for Eldoris,” said Denslow.
Investigators spoke to Coxum and he said he dropped Graham off in the Bay Area, but police say his statements were inconsistent and he was not forthcoming.
Then on Dec. 27, police learned Coxum had been arrested by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office in Fayetteville, N.C., driving Graham’s car. He was arrested on probation violations in North Carolina.
“She was so depressed a lot of the time when she was with him, just so sad,” said Perry. “Maybe now she’s happy and she’s free, and with her loved ones.”
Coxum remains in custody in North Carolina for unrelated probation violation charges and has remained uncooperative with authorities, Modesto police said.
The Stanislaus County Coroner’s Office is scheduled to conduct an autopsy on Monday.