Lab results on woman found in trunk could take up to 2 weeks

Saturday, August 16, 2008 | 6:35 p.m. CDT; updated 10:18 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 16, 2008

COLUMBIA — Tissue samples and a toxicology report on the body of a woman found in the trunk of a car on Thursday night could take between three days and two weeks to get back.

Boone County Medical Examiner Eddie Adelstein said the medical examiner's office completed an autopsy Friday and was waiting for results of tissue samples and toxicology reports.

Police found the body of Helen C. Sanders, 53, in the trunk of a car around 8:30 p.m. Thursday after her son, Daniel Sanders, was pulled over and arrested for driving recklessly near Stadium Boulevard and Audubon Drive.

The cause of death is still unclear. Capt. Brad Nelson of the Columbia Police Department said that there were no signs of life-threatening injuries on Helen Sanders' body.

Adelstein said Sanders had a history of illness that may have contributed to her death, but he would not elaborate. He said a theory about what happened to Helen Sanders would help point out where to go from here and what tissues to analyze more extensively.

"I'm really hoping some information comes out that gives us some direction," Adelstein said. "I thought it was a pretty straightforward case, but it's not."

Daniel Sanders, 19, and his brother, 16, are considered persons of interest in the investigation into the death of their mother.

Police served a search warrant to Daniel Sanders to search for trace evidence on his body, including traces of blood. He was arrested Friday afternoon on a felony warrant for tampering with evidence, with bond set at $250,000, according to a news release from Columbia police.

"He tried to conceal a body in an official investigation," Nelson said, explaining why the charge was filed.

The 16-year-old son was detained at his mother's home in the 4500 block of Melrose Drive in southwest Columbia after police served a search warrant.

"We certainly recovered a lot of evidence ... both in the home and in the car the suspect was driving," Nelson said. The younger brother was released to a family member around 2 p.m. Friday.

"We don't have enough evidence to support an arrest at this time," Nelson said.

Earlier Friday, Nelson declined to release the names of either brother, citing the Missouri Sunshine Law, because neither has been charged in connection with their mother's death.

Missourian reporters Roseann Moring, Christopher Hamby and Naomi Weisbrook contributed to this report.



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