“Dead” Man Arrested in Murder of 12-Year-Old

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They say dead men tell no tales, but apparently they can still get arrested.

In the case of Thomas Steven Sanders, who was declared legally dead in 1994 after abandoning his family seven years prior, that holds especially true. Sanders, 53, was arrested in the kidnapping of a murdered Las Vegas girl whose body was found in a central Louisiana wooded area and faces charges in her death.

According to FBI records, the slain girl, Lexis Roberts went missing along with her mother Suellen Roberts, who was allegedly his girlfriend in September. Hunters discoverd Lexis body last month and authorities say she had been shot. Roberts remains missing, but authorities say she is not a suspect in Lexis’ death, although Saunders is a suspect in her disappearance. He was caught by police at a truckstop in Gulfport, Miss.

Sanders family petitioned to have him declared dead in 1994, since they had not heard from him since 1987. After being regarded by law as dead in absentia, Saunders essentially became a legal zombie, moving easily about the country likely living in Nevada, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississipi and Tennessee and working in jobs like welding and scrap collecting.

But he was also arrested several times under his real name including a charge of possessing drug paraphernalia. He also was sentenced to jail on a simple battery charge. Still, he left none of the typical paper trails that indicate that he is living like bills or buying property. He is expected to face kidnapping charges at a hearing on Friday.

It is unclear if he knew he had been declared dead.