Winona murder suspect captured

October 20, 2011 in News

Murder suspect Dillon Seals (left) was captured Wednesday in Grenada County. Seals has been charged with capital murder in the death of Roy Sanders (right).

WINONA – Sheriff Jerry “Bubba” Nix said the 17-year-old Winona teen suspected of killing a Grenada County man and dumping his body on a rural road in Montgomery County was found Wednesday afternoon and has now been charged with capital murder.

Dillon Markel Seals was found around noon on Oct. 18, hiding in the attic of a vacant house near U.S. Highway 8 east in Grenada. Grenada County Sheriff Alton Strider said the property was vacant, but someone noticed that a shed on the property had been broken into and notified the authorities.

“It’s what you would call a storage building and it was behind this gentleman’s house,” Strider said. “I checked the building out and there wasn’t anything…but the house belonged to the man’s daughter and it had been vacant for several months but still had items in it. I got to checking around the house and saw one of the windows had been jimmied with.”

Strider said he’d retrieved the key from the owner of the property when he heard what he described as a ”bumping around” inside the home.

“At that time, I wasn’t really sure…,” Strider said. “I tried to open the door but it had an old bookcase against the door and I knew someone was inside. I suspected who it was all the time because we were looking for him in that area and I decided to call for backup because I didn’t want him getting away again. Once was enough.”

Strider said his department has a special narcotics unit trained in extrication and they arrived on the scene and assisted with getting Seals out of the attic.

Strider said Seals was taken into custody without incident.

Seals was questioned by Grenada County authorities who learned that the murder of Roy Sanders allegedly took place in Montgomery County.

Seals, whose last known address was in the 1000 block of North Union in Winona, was questioned by Montgomery County authorities and he was formally charged with capital murder about 4 p.m.

Seals was transported to the Carroll-Montgomery Regional Correctional Facility in Vaiden, where according to standard protocol, he was placed in solitary confinement.

Seals was scheduled to appear in court for an initial hearing on Thursday, Oct. 20.

According to Jon Kalahar, spokesman for the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations (MBI), the search for Seals began when the family of Roy Sanders’ reported Sanders missing on Sunday.

“It is believed Mr. Sanders was giving Mr. Seals a ride to Pontotoc, Mississippi,” he said. “But we’re not sure if he was giving that ride to Mr. Seals on Monday or Sunday. But Seals was later observed in Mr. Sanders’ vehicle – without Sanders – by the decedent’s wife and daughter, and when Mr. Seals saw them, he rammed the car of the wife and daughter.”

Kalahar said Seals fled the scene and is now facing two counts of aggravated assault by the Grenada Police Department for that incident.

About 9 a.m., Monday morning, Seals was spotted walking down the street on Highway 8 east by former assistant district attorney Clyde Hill.

“I believed it was him,” Hill said of Seals. “I wanted to establish his identity, so I watched him for a while because he was walking away. And once I determined that this was in fact who it was, I called police.”

Hill, who now has a private law practice in Grenada and was a personal friend of Roy Sanders, said he knew police were en route to his location and he tried to detain the suspect until officers arrived.

“I pulled up to him in my car and engaged him in conversation to delay him,” Hill said. “But when the police got there, he fled, and I saw him run behind the Pentecostal church.”

Grenada County authorities said Sanders’ vehicle had been found and was stained with blood throughout the interior. Seals was now considered “dangerous,” sources said, and the search for him continued.

The search crossed county lines about 9:40 a.m., when Sheriff Nix said a passing motorist saw a body on Graysport Road in Montgomery County.

“We went out there to see for ourselves,” Nix said. “We didn’t disturb the scene because we could see the [person] was deceased. So we called the MBI and the crime lab and they came out and processed the scene.”

Montgomery County authorities didn’t know the identity of the deceased, but did observe what Nix described as “facial and neck” cut wounds on the victim.

Nix said a Grenada police officer arrived to positively identify the body and the remains were later transported to a local funeral home by Montgomery County Coroner Karl Oliver.

Jon Kalahar said the MBI obtained the decedent’s driver’s license, and he was positively identified as 41-year-old Roy Sanders.

Nix said they still have not determined: Sanders’ official cause of death; how long his body had been on Graysport Road, or where in Montgomery County he was actually murdered.

Sanders has been sent to the Mississippi crime lab for an autopsy.

Authorities continued to look for Seals who had again been spotted in Grenada, but this time near Grenada Elementary near Highway 8. Concerned for the safety of the children, school officials placed the students on lockdown until they were released later in the day.

“Some of the children ride the bus,” Sheriff Strider said. “But we also had guards and other people there to escort the kids and make sure they got on the bus or wherever they were going.”

Strider, whose oldest son went to high school with Sanders, said he’s happy the suspect was apprehended.

“I didn’t know him well,” Strider said of Sanders. “He worked at Rose Business Equipment and he came here to work on our copy machines. He and my son were classmates. But it’s strange to me that [Seals] was still even around. I would have bet you that he was gone from here. Maybe he didn’t know what to do or where to go.”

Reportedly, Seals and Sanders’ daughter were in a relationship at one time and Strider did confirm that Seals was out on bond for allegedly kidnapping the girl earlier this year. He was released from jail on Aug. 18, 2011.

Sheriff Nix said Seals allegedly stole a van from Lee Funeral Home in Winona and kidnapped the girl in Grenada.

Seals was arrested in Grenada and his initial bond was $100,000.

Seals has outstanding charges on that case in Grenada and Winona.