Cold Case Project | Larry sanders jr
EDGEFIELD COUNTY, SC (WJBF) – A local family wants justice after the murder of an Edgefield County man in a home invasion. The crime from over ten years ago is this month’s Cold Case Project.
Almost 11 years ago, the lives of a mother, brother and two young daughters changed when someone broke into Larry Donnell Sanders Jr’s home and left him dead. But before we talk about the end of his life, we want to shed some light on his 28 years here.
“We called Larry LJ,” said his mother, Carolyn Bates. “Everyone knew him as LJ.
Bates and LJ’s brother DeJuan Sanders sat down with the Cold Case Project, still hoping that one day the right information will emerge to solve the murder and bring it to fruition. Although Sanders is gone, the memories of his loved ones are not.
“He was a very, very hyper, energetic, had this attitude, I’m going to do whatever I want to do,” his mother said.
And that’s exactly what he did, his mother told us, drawing a life for himself that was separate from what children normally aspire to do.
“When he was younger he really didn’t say I wanted to be a police officer or a firefighter or anything like that,” Bates said. “He wanted to become an underwater welder.”
Eventually that dream came close to becoming a reality. Bates said his son enrolled in Aiken Technical College to become this welder. And for two years he worked on this goal. And meanwhile, his younger brother remembers a very willful man who sometimes made decisions that caused DeJuan to step in as an older brother.
“I remember he was working at Walmart and I mean the car broke down or something,” DeJuan Sanders recalls. “Somehow he had to walk to work. It wasn’t a bad walk, but he had to walk to get to work. He didn’t want to do it, “man, I think I’ll quit.” “Dude, go to work, save your money, you can buy yourself a new car.” He wasn’t trying to hear that.
Along with that strong will, there were challenges, which Bates says improved when Sanders had his two daughters.
“He changed. He matured. I started to be more responsible,” LJ’s mother recounted in the past. “The relationship between him and me was so much better because I think he was capable of it. identify with being a parent. “
Shortly before Sanders’ death, his brother said a similar and shocking incident occurred when LJ was living at Chalet North Court Apartments in north Augusta.
He told us, “Someone tried to break into the apartment, so he moved out. He stayed in a hotel for a week or two until he found another house to move into. He moved to this house. Things were quiet for a minute and I heard that there were a few situations where he and someone didn’t get along.
Sanders said his brother didn’t report the break-in, he only left because he didn’t feel safe. And his brother said he was never afraid.
“You have kids now, you go to school, so you have things to live for,” DeJuan Sanders believed.
“July 10th. Lord have mercy,” Bates sighed when asked about the day his son was killed.
It was a day that started out like any other day for Bates who said she went to work that Saturday and enjoyed a night out. And then the clock struck at midnight and her youngest son, DeJuan, called.
“I heard he was dead, but I guess I said someone called the ambulance would make me feel better thinking that once the ambulance got there, everything would be fine, ”she hoped.
But LJ was not.
An incident report from the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office details some of what happened the day Sanders was killed at his home on the 100 block of Eagle Road in the community of Merriwether near Fox Creek High School. The responding officer searched outside the mobile home for a suspect. Then he walked in and found LJ gunned down on his bedroom floor. LJ’s then 19-year-old girlfriend was also in the room, Cali Whitaker. The report says she was covered in blood after trying to give her cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Bates described the scene of the crime when she arrived at her son’s home.
“I just remember a lot of screaming. Then when I got home and saw all the police cars and people outside and the yellow tape, it was real then.
DeJuan also described his moment.
“I am looking at my phone, I have more than 15 missed calls.”
Before calling his mother, DeJuan was sleeping at home. And then he received a knock on the door.
“I went to the door, my friend was at the door and he came in and told me what had happened,” he said.
As he made his way to his brother’s house, DeJuan began to reflect on the two weeks leading up to this moment, the heist and LJ’s beef with someone. But this month of July has been 11 years since that tragic night and there have still been no arrests.
“All these people around my brother all the time, someone learned something,” young Sanders told us, adding that his brother had a lot of people in his life that he called friend.
Edgefield County Sheriff Jody Rowland told us about the case. He said the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) joined with local investigators to investigate how someone entered Sanders’ back door that day and the ‘had killed.
Sheriff Rowland said: “Some people were in South Carolina penitentiaries at the time, but friends, neighbors, some of Sanders’ acquaintances and the girlfriend were all questioned.”
Sheriff Rowland, who did not head the office in 2010, said investigators had spent hours on the case. And he said there was more to the shooting, calling it a suspect because it links Sanders to a drug business.
“The investigation into this case brought to light many witnesses who told us about the inner workings of the drug deals that were in and out of the Sanders house, in and out of the Eagle Road area,” said the Sheriff Rowland who took office in January 2021 and not wanting to divulge too many details about the case.
We also know that investigators said witnesses reported seeing a red car leaving Sanders’ house that night. No make or model has been indicated. And the same type of vehicle may have been spotted by witnesses in another burglary within two miles of Sanders’ home in a mobile home park on Hayes Drive. It was then that MPs found David Banks, 22, dead, lying face down in the grass and connected to a trail of blood from another mobile home. Investigators believe this incident is drug and gang related, but the owner rightly killed this suspect.
It’s a story the family said they heard from law enforcement before.
“Four of them,” DeJuan Sanders said of when he was questioned. “They called me and my friend. We think we can answer a few questions. It was almost as if they were asking us about drugs. It wasn’t even nothing about my brother.
LJ’s ex-fiancé Monique Moore shared with us off-camera that her friend and the father of her child left her negative past after high school.
It was a case that included being in a gang and even getting shot in December 2000, a case that turned into the double murder of Richmond County teens Corey McMillian and Neiteka Wesbey. Sanders sustained a gunshot wound to the neck and was in critical condition when the case was reported by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. A fourth victim, Monique Hicks, was inside an apartment on Raeswood Drive during the shooting, but was not injured.
As he ran with a rowdy crowd every now and then, Moore said he loved music too, as did his now 15-year-old daughter. And he even loved writing and rapping, a passion that led him to open a recording studio. Her daughter, Mone ‘, was only four when she made her last trip to the zoo with her father and sister, LJ’s other daughter who was also 4 at the time.
Moore wrote in this letter to LJ years later:
Looks like we were laughing on the phone yesterday as a teenager. Never thought that our relationship would become what it has become. Even when we stopped dating, our friendship and bond was everlasting. I miss the phone calls that started with Monique. What do you think about that? Or those that ended with ok MOM. I hate that you took us away too soon. I still remember the first time you held our daughter. You were so horny she looked like you, even though it didn’t last long. I remember laughing when I said you lost her and she started to look like me. You’ve been robbed of seeing her grow up to be a wonderful young woman. She hasn’t been able to see your bright smile or appreciate your silly personality. You couldn’t cheer her on at awards shows, violin concerts or dance the night away with her at her daddy / daughter’s dance. You won’t be there when she crosses the stage for her high school graduation. These things have been stolen from us. Now we only have our memories and images of the good times, to try to fill the void that was left in our hearts. You always said, don’t worry, I’ll handle her teenage years. I really wish you were here to experience it with me. It is definitely an adventure. Although we miss you, I am grateful for the time we were able to share together. Like you once said, I’m glad I had children, so when the day comes when I’m no longer there, I’ll continue to live apart in the world. We miss you, you will never be forgotten and you are always in our hearts.
Bates added, “I would like to think that if L was still around, on this beautiful day, he would be somewhere with his daughters.”
These are the girls Bates wants closed for, answers to questions she’s sure now about the father who left them so soon. And for mom and brother, it’s also about not having to look over their shoulders anymore.
“You don’t know who you can trust,” DeJuan Sanders said. “So some people you hang out with or you used to be cool with.”
Sheriff Rowland added that people need to talk about the case.
“We will listen to almost everything. If there is a witness, even connected remotely, we will listen, find out what he knows and try to connect the dots. “
Anyone with information on the Larry Sanders Jr case should call the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office at 803-637-5337.
Next time on the Cold Case Project, we take you to McDuffie County where a community of loved ones and friends have taken to the streets to seek justice for Jonathan gurley, who was gunned down outside his Thomson home in 2014. What family and law enforcement need to bring the case to a close.
Photojournalist: Regynal McKie