Thomas Steven Sanders, suspected of shooting Lexis Roberts of Las Vegas before dumping her body in central Louisiana's Catahoula Parish, said little Friday during the hearing in federal court in Alexandria, La.
Shackled and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, the 53-year-old Sanders spent much of the hearing leaning forward in his seat and reading documents with his lawyer. Sanders had shaven off the bushy, white beard seen in police photographs before his capture.
James Kelly, sheriff of the parish where Roberts' body was found by hunters Oct. 8, also was at the hearing. Kelly said he'll charge Sanders with first-degree murder in state court when the federal government finishes processing him, possibly early next week.
Authorities said security footage showed Sanders buying ammunition Sept. 3 at a Walmart in
Sanders also is a suspect in the disappearance and likely death of the girl's mother, 31-year-old Suellen Roberts. Investigators are using dental records to determine whether a body found Monday in
If that body turns out to be Suellen Roberts, it's likely Sanders will at some point be charged in
"We're kind of third in line," Yavapai County Sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said Friday. "Fortunately, he's in custody so we have the luxury of time."
Sanders was arrested Sunday in
The case took a bizarre twist when authorities realized their prime suspect in the disappearances had been declared legally dead in 1994.
Sanders' parents, brother and ex-wife petitioned a
Sanders was arrested in January 1994 and charged with two counts of cruelty to children in Winder,
In November 2002, he was arrested in
Little else is known about Sanders' life after being declared dead. He didn't buy property or establish many bills in his name, things that create paper trails for most people.
He has worked as a laborer, a welder and a scrap metal collector. Authorities said he sometimes gave his name as Tom or Steve or the nickname "Spider."
Mohr reported from Jackson, Miss. Associated Press writers Greg Bluestein in Winder,