Shelton John Sanders

Sanders, circa 2001; Mark Anthony Richardson

  • Missing Since 06/19/2001
  • Missing From Columbia, South Carolina
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race Black
  • Date of Birth 08/30/1963 (60)
  • Age 38 years old
  • Height and Weight 6'1, 225 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A short-sleeved button-down shirt, khaki pants and a Movado watch with a stainless steel band and a black face with diamonds.
  • Associated Vehicle(s) White 1988 Oldsmobile Regency with the license plate number 214-LZM, a runroof and a sticker on the rear bumper reading "Carolina Richardson for Treasurer" (accounted for)
  • Distinguishing Characteristics African-American male. Black hair, brown eyes.

Details of Disappearance

Sanders was last heard by his family, who live in Renton, South Carolina, at 9:00 p.m. from on June 19, 2001, when he called them on his cellular phone to say he was on his way home from Columbia, South Carolina. He was last seen at 9:51 p.m. that day at Embassy Suites hotel in Columbia, where he was planning a bachelor party for a friend.

Sanders was driving his brother's white 1988 Oldsmobile Regency with the license plate number 214-LZM. The vehicle has a sunroof and a sticker on the rear bumper reading "Carolina Richardson for Treasurer." Sanders has never been heard from again and his credit cards and cellular phone have not been used since his disappearance.

The Oldsmobile which disappeared with him was found in April 2003, backed into a parking space at Greenbrier Apartments near the Columbia Place Mall. The location is about a dozen miles away from where Sanders was last seen. Authorities stated the vehicle had been there for at least two months and possibly as long as the time Sanders had been missing. There was no sign of him at the scene. No fingerprints or DNA evidence was recovered from the vehicle.

Sanders's father is a county judge. Authorities investigated the possibility that Sanders's disappearance was related to his father's line of work, but they quickly discarded the theory.

In October 2005, Mark Anthony Richardson was arrested and charged with murdering Sanders. A photograph of Richardson is posted with this case summary. Authorities believe the men, who were friends, were at Richardson's home the night Sanders disappeared and that Richardson shot him to death there.

No possible motive for the crime has been made public. Sanders's remains have not been found and prosecutors stated they may never be found. Richardson was tried for murder in April 2008. His defense argued there was no proof that Sanders was even deceased. The jury was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared as a result. Richardson may be retried at some future date.

Sanders was a student at the University of South Carolina at the time of his disappearance; he majored in administrative information management and was due to graduate in December 2001, He was employed as a computer systems manager at the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science at the university's medical school.

He lived with his parents in Renton forty miles away, and commuted to Columbia for work and school. He is described as a high-achieving student and a conscientious worker who always notified his employers if he intended to be absent. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved.

Investigating Agency

  • Sumter County Sheriff's Office
  • 803-436-2790
  • 803-436-2002
  • 803-436-2775

Updated 7 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated July 15, 2021; clothing/jewelry description added.