US & Canada

Man declared dead arrested in kidnapping case

Thomas Steven Sanders
Image caption Mr Sanders was wanted by police over the abduction of Lexis Roberts

A US man who was declared legally dead 16 years ago has been arrested in Mississippi for the kidnapping of a girl whose body was found in Louisiana.

An FBI spokeswoman said Thomas Steven Sanders had been held on Sunday at a truck stop in the Mississippi town of Gulfport, following a massive manhunt.

He is suspected of involvement in the abduction of Lexis Roberts, 12, who was found dead earlier this year.

Police are pressing him for information on the girl's missing mother.

Mr Sanders abandoned his family in 1987 and was declared dead by a Mississippi court in 1994, according to court documents.

"However, we now know that he is still alive and has ties to several states across the country," the FBI said in a statement.

The 53-year-old was wanted by police for the kidnapping of the Las Vegas girl, whose skeleton was found by hunters in October.

The girl's 31-year-old mother, Suellen Roberts, is missing. Authorities have said she is not a suspect in her daughter's death and fear she may also have come to harm.

In the time since he was declared dead, investigators say Mr Sanders has worked as a labourer, a welder and a scrap metal collector and lived in the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Nevada.

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