jamessanders Fort Worth Police Solve 1984 Cold Case

(credit: Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – After 27 years, Fort Worth police have successfully closed a cold case murder.

In January of 1984, Elsie Mae Deem was attacked in her Fort Worth home. The 82-year old he was able to describe the man who attacked her, but was only able to assist police in the search for a suspect for a short time.

“While at the hospital it was also determined that she had been sexually assaulted,” Fort Worth police spokesperson Sgt. Pedro Criado said of the investigation. “It’s unfortunate that she did ultimately succumb to her injuries on January 30, back in 1984.”

Before her death Deem described to police how she was awakened by a noise in her home. The woman said after searching her home and finding nothing she returned to her bedroom. It was then that a man entered the room and attacked the elderly woman.

Police continued to look for the person who had beaten Deem unconscious, but had little to go on.

“It was obviously ruled a homicide. At that point we had no suspects and nobody was identified or linked to the case at that time,” Sgt. Criado said.

The FWPD Cold Case Unit revived the case in 2008, and recently got a DNA match. The forensic information came back to James L. Sanders and authorities were able to quickly locate him.

Sgt. Criado said, “Sanders, I believe, is serving a life sentence for an unrelated drug charge.”

On November 1, 2011 a Capital Murder arrest warrant was obtained for James L. Sanders, for the Elsie Mae Deem homicide.

When police talked with the now 57-year-old Sanders they learned the attack and subsequent death of Deem might be one of many crimes he’s committed.

“While he [Sanders] was being interviewed by Detective Reyes he described an incident where he did shoot a man in the head,” said Sgt. Criado. “Detective Reyes did locate a related report number from 1989.”

Sanders has also been linked to a 1977 rape of a 17-year old girl.

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