UPDATE: Police await more lab results in Sanders case

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 7:13 p.m. CDT; updated 2:48 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 11, 2008

COLUMBIA - Columbia Police have yet to make any arrests in the homicide of Helen Sanders, whose body was found Aug. 14 in the trunk of a car driven by her 19-year-old son, Daniel Sanders.

The Police Department said it is awaiting more lab results in the ongoing investigation.

"There is a lot of lab work still to come back," Capt. Brad Nelson said Tuesday. He declined to say what is being tested or whether those results are expected to be conclusive enough to bring an arrest.

In a final autopsy report released Sept. 2, the Boone County Medical Examiner's office ruled the 53-year-old Sanders' death a homicide. Columbia police are withholding the specific cause of death because releasing it could "jeopardize the investigation" into the homicide, Nelson said at the time.

Consequently, almost six weeks after the homicide, there is still little public information available about the circumstances surrounding Sanders' death.

When Columbia police discovered Sanders' body during the traffic stop, it was wrapped in a blanket and lying next to what appeared to be a newly purchased shovel. According to a search warrant affidavit, police officers observed scratches on Daniel Sanders' face and arms.

Preliminary results from the autopsy released Aug. 19 showed that at the time of her death, Helen Sanders had a significant amount of fluid in her lungs, several broken ribs and a broken sternum. Police were investigating the possibility that she drowned in a bathtub in her home.

Police seized a number of items from the Sanders' residence at 4509 Melrose Drive the day after the homicide, including three computers and cell phones, a search warrant affidavit states.

Daniel Sanders remains a suspect in the investigation, Nelson said Tuesday. He is being held at Boone County Jail on $250,000 bond. He is charged with tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution. His jury trial will begin Nov. 18 in Boone County Circuit Court, according to court documents.

Daniel Sanders' 16-year-old brother, Gary Sanders, is staying in The Woodlands, Texas, according to court documents.

Gary Sanders remains a "person of interest," in the investigation, Nelson said.

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