Craigslist ad murder victim's widow: 'This was an evil, evil act'

by KING 5 News and KING5.com Staff
Posted on May 5, 2010 at 3:55 AM
Updated Wednesday, May 5 at 11:59 AM

EDGEWOOD, Wash. -- Three suspects in the Craigslist murder case are in jail in two states, and police are searching for a fourth suspect. Now the wife of the victim describes the night when four suspects robbed and beat her family and murdered her husband.

"I had a gun to the back of my head with a countdown - three, two - and I'm just screaming and my kids are standing there. And I'm saying, 'Please, God, don't let them kill me, don't let them kill my kids,'" said Charlene Sanders. "They took the love of my life, my future, they ripped my home apart."

Charging papers say on April 28, four people came to Jim and Charlene Sanders' home in response to an ad posted on Craigslist for a diamond ring. A man and a woman entered the home, looked at the ring and agreed on a price.

The man then pulled out a gun and the two zip tied Charlene and her husband Jim Sanders. Two more men entered the home. One of them went upstairs and brought the Sanders children, two boys ages 14 and 10, downstairs.

"That night was horrific, when they ripped my wedding ring off my finger," said Charlene. "We just kept saying, 'Just take what you want, just take what you want, don't kill us.'"

When the men started beating Charlene and their older son, James Sanders broke his hands free from the zip ties and tried to defend his family, said court documents. The gunmen shot him three times.

"I just kept saying 'Honey please stay with me, stay with me, stay with us, don't go, don't go' and he was just barely gasping for air," Charlene said."My husband was a hero. He told his boys he would always protect his family, and he died protecting his family... When they killed him the way they did, I couldn't believe it. But I was also in awe that the three of us were alive and I was praising God for that, and freaked out to have my husband die in my arms."

Papers say Charlene's wedding ring was taken from her hand, and that the four left the home with cell phones, a laptop computer, jewelry and other items.

Over the weekend, police arrested three of the four suspects in Daly City, California. One of the suspects posted bail and returned to Washington. She turned herself in to police Tuesday night.

As soon as the news of the arrests broke, the Sanders family began calling one another. They gathered in the neighborhood where the crime happened.

"It changes lives. It's changed our lives... and hurt a lot of people and it was for nothing but a piece of a rock and a few hundred bucks," said Jim Sanders Sr., Jim Sanders' father.

"Of all of them, I don't know if I dislike any of them more than the other, but I know I dislike that gal probably the most, if I had to pick somebody, just because she's the one that deceived my brother into letting them into the home," said Derek Sanders, Jim's younger brother.

Jim Sanders' parents say they are proud of the actions their son took that night, but the arrests don't ease their pain and loss.

"I'm really thankful that they're caught. I'm so thankful for that because they can't do any more damage to anyone else, but it doesn't take away the hurt and the pain of what they've taken from us," said Linda Sanders, Jim's mother.

Charlene Sanders says her faith in God, family and prayers are getting her through this hard time.

"I found out how much we were loved. I can't thank people enough for it. I knew people were praying for me," said Charlene. "They killed my husband, they killed his body, but they couldn't kill his spirit because he's in heaven right now."

Charlene adds she'd like her wedding ring back, but as for the diamond ring posted on Craigslist that was at the center of the robbery, she'd like to throw it away. It has too many painful memories.

"I feel like chucking that in the river," she said.

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