Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cops Say Body Found During Search Matches Description of Emily Sander


EL DORADO, Kan. — Police say the preliminary physical description of a body found east of El Dorado matches that of missing college student Emily Sander.

Authorities searching for the missing Kansas college student found the body of a young woman about 50 miles east of here on Thursday, along U.S. 54., Police Chief Tom Boren said.

Although authorities had not yet identified the body, they said late Thursday that the woman found matched Sander's description.

Sander, 18, was last seen leaving a bar with a man who has been the focus of a nationwide search since police found large quantities of blood in a Kansas motel room where he was staying.

Investigators have not yet found a link between Sanders and her activities as an online porn star named Zoey Zane, but publicity about her explicit photos has brought a flood of tips, many of them false leads.

Before she vanished, nude photos of Sander appeared on various Web sites. The national publicity surrounding her double life kept phones ringing continuously at the El Dorado police station.

The police chief said the publicity was unlikely to help.

"We did talk to the lady that operates the site. We didn't find any viable connection with this main suspect at this point," he said.

Sander, who attended Butler Community College, was last seen Friday leaving the bar with Israel Mireles, 24. Authorities are looking for him and his 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend.

The rental car Mireles was driving was found abandoned Tuesday in Vernon, Texas, where he has relatives. Investigators interviewed family members and planned to bring the vehicle back to Kansas for processing.

"We feel they know where he is at, but they haven't shared that with us," Boren said.

On Thursday, searchers on foot and all-terrain vehicles were checking the tall grass along each side of Highway 54 near Neal, Kan., as they traced the route Mireles may have taken Saturday on the way to Baxter Springs to pick up his girlfriend.

Dozens of people gathered Wednesday in El Dorado for a candlelight vigil for Sander. The turnout moved her grandfather, Clement Sander, who said Emily Sander's disappearance shows tragedy can suddenly strike anyone.

"All I can say to you young folks out there is be careful," he said. "It is a cruel world."

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