'Dead Man' Busted in Kidnapping

Suspect Steven Sanders was declared dead in 1994
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2010 3:37 AM CST
Thomas Steven Sanders left his family 23 years ago, telling them he was going out to look for work.   (AP Photo/FBI New Orleans, File)

(Newser) – A man declared dead in Mississippi 16 years ago has been arrested and charged with kidnapping a 12-year-old girl whose remains were found in a Louisiana forest. Thomas Steven Sanders, 51, is likely to face more charges in relation to the girl's death, AP reports. The girl's mother, who was last in the company of Sanders, is missing. Sanders—caught on security camera buying ammunition that matches the weapon used to kill the girl—was captured at a truck stop in Mississippi.

The drifter left his family in Louisiana 23 years ago, telling them he was going out to look for a job. They had him declared dead 7 years later. FBI investigators say the handyman and scrap metal collector had no trouble moving around the country, even though he was legally dead. He lived and worked in at least 4 states and was arrested several times for traffic offenses and possession of drug paraphernalia. In Georgia, the "dead" man was jailed for 2 years for child battery, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

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