Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Lexis and Suellen Roberts: Killed by a Dead Man?

Moving Around


Among the things investigators learned about Sanders was that he, despite having been declared legally dead, had allegedly ran afoul of the law a number of times since his supposed demise. He'd been involved in motor vehicle incidents in Tennessee, and had been arrested in that state for possession of drug paraphernalia. He had been charged and convicted of simple battery in Georgia for repeatedly striking a boy on the back of the legs and for placing soiled underwear in the boy's face, according to court records, for which he was sentenced to two years' probation and fined $500. He was allegedly involved in an incident with a child in the 1980s, but because he was never arrested or convicted authorities refused to talk about it. His former wife, however, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he liked young girls, and had been discovered in a compromising position with a 6-year-old girl whose father had made the discovery.

Thomas Steven Sanders
Thomas Steven Sanders
"That girl's dad beat the hell out of him," Tarver said.

Tarver told the newspaper that Sanders had said that he obtained cuts and bruises from a hammer that had fallen on his head and had not admitted to the purported beating, but she said that she hadn't believed him.

"He was a pedophile, but not on paper," Tarver said.

After being declared legally dead, Sanders became a drifter of sorts and freely moved from state to state, through Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Nevada. Through his tenacity, he managed to live "off the grid" and off law enforcement's radar until being connected to Suellen and Lexis Roberts.

The fact that Sanders was believed dead for so many years disturbed a number of people in law enforcement, as well as Suellen's great aunt.

"Who knows how many other victims he may have?" Patricia Cloutier said. "The more we learn, the stranger it gets."

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