Tahlequah Daily Press

November 19, 2013

BREAKING: Two held in ‘heinous’ death of child

Boy, 3, appeared to have died by strangulation or suffocation

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah police detectives arrested a local couple Tuesday afternoon in what was described as the “heinous” death of a 3-year-old boy.

Police Chief Nate King said detectives were called to The Stepping Stone Rooming House on East Chickasaw Street Tuesday to assist Tahlequah Fire Department and medical personnel, who responded to a cardiac arrest at around 11:30 a.m.

Emergency personnel felt the death was suspicious and investigated further, said King.

Jeri Danyce Sanders, the child’s mother, and Buford Lee Ellison, with whom Sanders has been living, were later arrested on murder charges, according to King.

The pair could also face charges of child neglect and failure to report child neglect.

“At this point in the investigation, it is believed the child was either strangulated or suffocated,” King said. “You know you’re dealing with a heinous crime when veteran police officers are shedding tears over a situation.”

Detective Chris Boals will continue investigating the boy’s death, and the state medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.