November 5, 2010 in Nation/World

Suspect declared dead in ’94

Mary Foster Associated Press
 

NEW ORLEANS – A man declared dead 16 years ago but who authorities say is alive is charged with kidnapping a 12-year-old Nevada girl whose remains were found in Louisiana, officials said Thursday.

A warrant was issued for 53-year-old Thomas Steven Sanders. It charges him with abducting Lexis Roberts whose remains were found by hunters in east-central Louisiana in early October. Relatives told investigators the girl and her mother had known Sanders for two or three months, said Robert King, the FBI agent in Alexandria heading up the investigation.

In 1994, family members legally declared Sanders dead in Mississippi.

“He just walked away one day and never came back,” King said. “So after seven years the family had him declared dead.”

However, on Sept. 3, officials said, security cameras showed Sanders buying ammunition at a Walmart in Las Vegas. Federal agents said the ammunition Sanders purchased was consistent with the caliber weapon used in Roberts’ homicide.

Sheriff’s officials in Arizona’s Coconino County said the girl was seen Sept. 4 with her mother, Suellen Roberts, and Sanders in Williams, Ariz. Authorities also do not know what has become of her mother.

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