A relative of slain 12-year-old Lexis Roberts of Las Vegas says the suspect in her death appears to have led police to the body of her mother, found Monday in northwest Arizona.
Authorities found remains believed to be those of 31-year-old Suellen Roberts near Seligman, Ariz., about 40 miles from the amusement park she and Lexis planned to visit with boyfriend Thomas Steven "Spider" Sanders, who was arrested Sunday in Mississippi.
Lexis' body was found Oct. 8 by hunters in the woods of central Louisiana.
"There is some closure in that they no longer are missing," said Lexis' great-uncle Kenneth Cloutier, reached Monday in New Hampshire.
Cloutier was told by an Arizona law enforcement official that Sanders had cooperated with the FBI and provided information on where to find Roberts' body.
Authorities believe the body found is Roberts' because the clothing matches a description of what she was wearing when last seen, Cloutier said.
Sanders had an initial appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Miss., on a federal kidnapping charge and waived his rights to hearings there, said Melanie Rube, a deputy U.S. Marshal.
Sheila Thorne, a special agent with the FBI in New Orleans, said Sanders was then extradited to Louisiana. Thorne declined to provide additional details because the case is ongoing.
Sanders was driving Roberts' 2001 Kia Spectra when he was apprehended.
Sanders, who was declared legally dead 16 years ago, was targeted in a nationwide manhunt after the mother and daughter were reported missing after Labor Day weekend. The FBI has coordinated the investigation, which involves multiple law enforcement agencies and four states.
In Nevada, Sanders, 53, met Roberts and her daughter a few months ago at a storage facility in Las Vegas where she kept some possessions and where Sanders worked, said Roberts' mother, Mary Woodburn.
Roberts and Lexis were last seen in September in Arizona with Sanders. Yavapai County Sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said investigators found the remains thought to be Roberts' about a mile southwest of a remote mountainous area along Interstate 40.
"The detectives have stated there's evidence that indicates it's very, very likely it's Suellen," D'Evelyn said.
An autopsy will be performed within 24 hours to confirm the deceased woman's identity, he said.
Much of Sanders' past is a mystery after he walked out on his family in McComb, Miss., in 1987. He drifted from state to state and didn't buy property or establish many bills in his name -- things that create a paper trail for most people, authorities said.
His wife, Candice Sanders, divorced him in 1988 for alleged "habitual, cruel and inhuman treatment."
In 1994, Sanders' parents, brother and ex-wife petitioned a Mississippi court to have him declared dead.
Authorities said Sanders has lived in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Nevada. He worked as a laborer, a welder and a scrap metal collector.
He was arrested several times, on charges including possession of drug paraphernalia and for several traffic and motor vehicle violations in Tennessee, according to authorities. He also was sentenced to two years in Georgia for simple battery. State and federal authorities have said some of the charges involved minors, but they haven't elaborated.
There doesn't appear to be any jurisdictional squabbling between agencies over prosecution of the current case. According to Nevada law, Clark County prosecutors could have made an argument for jurisdiction because Sanders' alleged crime spree originated in Las Vegas.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger indicated Monday that Southern Nevada law enforcement will cooperate with authorities from Louisiana's Catahoula Parish as they prosecute the case "because that's where (Lexis') body was found."
If the body found in Arizona is Roberts', Yavapai County prosecutors would then handle the case involving her death.
Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona and Nevada all use the death penalty as a form of punishment in murder cases.
Lexis' remains show she had been shot several times. Officials said security cameras captured Sanders buying ammunition Sept. 3 at a Walmart in Las Vegas. The bullets he bought were consistent with those from the weapon used to kill Lexis, police said.
Bob Lowery, executive director of the missing children's division with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, based in Alexandria, Va., said about 2,000 children are reported missing each day. About 58,000 cases each year involve a child who is abducted by someone who is not a relative, he said.
Only a small number of cases involving missing children end in death. But in a significant number of those cases, the perpetrator is romantically linked to a parent.
"One of the leading causes of death of children is the boyfriend of the mother," Lowery said.
The Associated Press and Review-Journal writer Francis McCabe contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at email@example.com or 702-383-4638.