- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2003

A Michigan woman who gained national prominence for finding bodies during law enforcement searches throughout the United States and Panama has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges she planted the human remains her dog eventually located in the searches.

Justice Department officials in Washington yesterday said Sandra Marie Anderson, a cadaver-dog handler from Midland, Mich., was named in a 10-count indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

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Mrs. Anderson is charged with falsifying and concealing material facts from federal law enforcement officials, obstruction of justice and lying to law enforcement officials in her efforts to cover up evidence in a federal investigation of her conduct.

The indictment said Mrs. Anderson, director of the Great Lakes Search and Rescue Team of Michigan K-9 Unit, planted human remains and fiber evidence during searches with her dog, Eagle, at the Huron National Forest search in northern Michigan on April 17 and 18, 2002, as well as human remains during a search in the Proud Lake Recreation Center, also in northern Michigan, on Jan. 4, 2002.

The human remains, according to the indictment, included bones, which she “pretended to discover as genuine potential evidence.”

Authorities said some of the evidence uncovered by Mrs. Anderson led to convictions in several cases, including at least one homicide, although they declined to elaborate.

Additionally, the indictment said, she attempted to obstruct justice shortly after the federal search of her home by delivering human remains to a local law enforcement officer, along with lying about how she had acquired the remains, and then trying to persuade two co-workers to write false reports to corroborate her story.

The indictment also said Mrs. Anderson lied to federal investigators after her conduct was detected at Huron National Forest and later during an interview, where she had the chance to tell the truth about her participation and conduct during searches.

It said she lied when she told federal investigators she had never planted evidence and had always legitimately found evidence of human remains, when in fact, she had planted evidence in five other searches — Delta, Ohio; Plymouth, Mich.; Monroe County, Mich.; Lindsey, Ohio, and Bay City, Mich.

“This investigation is an example of the value of close coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” said acting Assistant Attorney General J. Michael Wiggins, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“It could not have been successful without substantial support and significant assistance from a large number of state and local law enforcement agencies, primarily in Michigan and Ohio, as well as other federal resources.”

Willie T. Hulon, who heads the FBI field office in Detroit, described evidence tampering as a “serious matter,” adding that the investigation of Mrs. Anderson’s activities was continuing.

If convicted, Mrs. Anderson could face a statutory maximum sentence of 65 years in prison.

Mrs. Anderson is believed to have conducted about 200 searches with her dog for law enforcement authorities.

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