Tahlequah Daily Press

November 29, 2013

Accused killer back in hospital, may be near death

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A 49-year-old man accused of murder in the death of a 3-year-old boy was back in a Tahlequah hospital Wednesday.

First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp said Buford Ellison’s health has continued to deteriorate since he and Jeri Danyce Sanders were arrested Nov. 19.

Sanders’ son, Dakota, was found dead that morning, and the couple were arrested after an investigation by Tahlequah detectives.

Ellison, who is suffering from the late stages of cancer, was hospitalized at Tahlequah City Hospital after his arrest and later sent to St. John’s in Tulsa. When prosecutors learned he would be released from St. John’s on Nov. 22, Ellison was taken back to CCDC.

Hospice was then called into CCDC to care for Ellison. According to CCDC Administrator Lloyd Bickel, a hospice provided Ellison a bed at the jail facility. He was also prescribed medications, but when Ellison’s health deteriorated, jail staff decided Ellison needed professional medical care.

“It got to the point where he needed 24-hour care,” Bickel said Wednesday. “They had medicine for him, but it got beyond our experience to care for him.”

Bickel contacted Thorp and the decision was made to move Ellison to TCH.

“He was deteriorating rapidly,” Thorp said Wednesday afternoon.

As of Wednesday, the county had placed a detention officer at TCH to guard Ellison.

Thorp said local attorney Angela Jones has been appointed to represent Ellison.

“I talked to her again Wednesday, and he was not really able to communicate with her in a meaningful way, based on what I heard,” said Thorp. “It sounded terminal again.”

Sanders remains in jail without bond.

Detectives allege the 3-year-old victim had suffered from insomnia for weeks, and had been up screaming in the early morning hours of Nov. 19. When Sanders had “reached her limit,” she allegedly left the boy in a room with Ellison. She later returned to the room and noticed the child’s body wedged behind Ellison, who was in a chair, she told detectives.

Sanders claimed she believed her child was dead, but she did nothing for several hours. She then took Dakota’s “lifeless” body to the baby sitter’s and left him. The baby sitter believed Dakota was sleeping until she was unable to wake him several hours later.

According to court documents, Ellison refused to speak with detectives during their investigation, but was overheard telling Sanders he could not say what had happened because he needed to protect his rights, and that he “was just stressed out.”

Formal charges have not been filed.