Murder of Emily Sander

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Emily Irene Sander
Born Emily Irene Sander
(1989-02-26)February 26, 1989
Olathe, Kansas[1]
Disappeared November 23, 2007
El Dorado, Kansas
Died November 24, 2007(2007-11-24) (aged 18)
El Dorado, Kansas
Cause of death Murder
Body discovered November 29, 2007
Other names Zoey Zane

Emily Irene Sander (February 26, 1989[1] – November 24, 2007[2]) was an 18-year-old American student at Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kansas.[3] Reported missing on November 23, 2007[4] and found dead six days later,[5] her disappearance was widely covered in the mainstream news media. Israel Mireles was named as a suspect and later arrested in Mexico and charged.[6] Mireles' capital murder trial in February 2010[7] found him guilty of Sander's murder.

Circumstances of disappearance[edit]

Israel Mireles, convicted of Sander's murder.

According to police, Sander and a man they identified as 24-year-old Israel Mireles were seen leaving a bar in east El Dorado on November 23, 2007. This was the last time Sander was seen alive.[8] Later, blood was discovered in Mireles' motel room next door to an Italian restaurant where he worked as a waiter[9] and Sander's car was found still parked at the bar. The rental car Mireles was driving was found abandoned on November 27 in Vernon, Texas, where he has relatives.[10]

Six days after Sander's disappearance, on November 29, investigators found a body 50 miles east of El Dorado which they said matched a preliminary physical description of Sander.[11] On December 1, 2007, police confirmed the body to be that of Sander, but refused to comment on the condition of the body. An autopsy was performed, but the results and cause of death were sealed until the trial. During the trial, it was revealed that Sander had been stabbed multiple times and strangled to death with a telephone cord.[12]

El Dorado, Kansas Police Chief Tom Boren said a special task force of FBI and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents was assigned to the case.[13]


Local police apprehended Mireles on December 19, 2007, in Melchor Muzquiz, Mexico. He was subsequently charged in the U.S. with capital murder, rape and aggravated sodomy.[6] When captured, Mireles was with his 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend Victoria Martens.[6][14] Although prosecutors promised to not file charges against her, Martens initially refused to return to Kansas.[15]

According to Sandy Martens (the mother of Victoria Martens), her daughter had called her on November 24 to tell her Mireles had been involved in an altercation when another man attempted to rob him.[16] Sandy Martens also claimed to have received a text message from her daughter days after the couple fled that said she "had a lot to tell her mother."[16] Later the mother said she believed her daughter thought her trip with Mireles to Mexico was a vacation.[17] Victoria later called home and was picked up at the border. She was taken to Texas, where she was put in juvenile custody. Because Mireles was suspected of impregnating Martens, he was also charged with aggravated indecent liberties with a child.[17]

Because Mireles, who was in the United States legally, went to his home country of Mexico, there could have been added complications to the case. Before extraditing a suspect, Mexico requires that authorities submit the most serious charges that the suspect could face, and will not allow extradition of someone who could face the death penalty. The maximum penalty he could face was life in prison without the possibility of parole.[6] On June 26, 2009, the Associated Press reported that Mireles was back in the US following extradition.[18]


Mireles' trial was held from February 8–12, 2010.[7] He was charged with capital murder, rape and aggravated criminal sodomy.[7] He was convicted of rape and capital murder; the aggravated sodomy charge was dropped as part of the capital murder charge.[19] On March 31, 2010, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.[20] Mireles remains an inmate of the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas.[21]

Online activity[edit]

After several days of speculation[22] following her disappearance, it was revealed Emily Sander was an Internet pornography model using the pseudonym Zoey Zane.[23][24] Friends of Sander said she was recruited for an internet porn site during the summer of 2007, shortly after her 18th birthday.[25] She apparently kept her career mostly to herself and only close friends knew about it, which was in addition to her work as a secretary.[25] According to Sander's grandmother, Shirley Sander, her family knew nothing of her porn site and did not believe the reports.[26] Following reports of her modeling, the case drew international attention.[26][27][28][29]

Investigators said they do not believe that Sander's involvement in porn was connected with her disappearance.[30]

Criticism of the news media[edit]

The Zoey Zane porn site featured a statement criticizing the media, saying they had blown Sander's porn career out of proportion. The statement reported that it was a shame that the site drew more viewers after the death of Emily than it had drawn previously.[31] The Zoey Zane site is currently redirected to an online memorial for Emily Sander, and does not contain any photos from the original Zoey Zane website.


Sander's death had an impact both at and beyond Butler Community College. Memorials were created for her.[32][33] Sander's funeral took place on December 6, 2007.[34]


  1. ^ a b "Services set for Emily Sander". The Augusta Daily Gazette. 2007-12-03. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  2. ^ "Online Memorial and Obituary of Emily Sander". Carlson Colonial Funeral Home. 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  3. ^ Stan Finger and Tim Potter (2007-11-26). "Police suspect missing Butler student 'was victim of violence'". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 2007-12-20. [dead link]
  4. ^ Tim Potter and Hurst Liviana (2007-11-30). "Body found; may be Emily Sander". The Wichita Eagle. Archived from the original on 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  5. ^ Mike Carney (2007-11-30). "Family grieves likely death of 18-year-old Emily Sander". USA Today. Archived from the original on January 16, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  6. ^ a b c d Roxana Hegeman. "Arrest in Student-Porn Actress' Death". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  7. ^ a b c "Court readies for trial in Kansas porn model's death". The Salina Journal. Associated Press. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 
  8. ^ David Schoetz (2007-11-28). "Bedspread Clue in Kansas Teen's Disappearance". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  9. ^ Tim Potter (2007-12-05). "Mom pleads to hear from daughter". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 2007-12-13. [dead link]
  10. ^ Roxana Hegeman (2007-12-13). "Body of Secret Porn Star Found in Kansas". AOL NEWS. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  11. ^ Roxana Hegeman (2007-11-29). "Body matches description of missing girl". The Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  12. ^ Denise Hnytka (2010-02-08). "Israel Mireles Trial: Day One". KWCH. Archived from the original on June 27, 2015. Retrieved 2014-09-27. 
  13. ^ Tim Potter (2007-11-29). "Emily Sander case takes an unusual twist". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 2007-12-03. [dead link]
  14. ^ Roxana Hegeman (2007-11-24). "Foul play suspected in disappearance of Kansas teen". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-29. [dead link]
  15. ^ David Lohr (2007-12-20). "Mexican Authorities Arrest Israel Mireles". Court TV Crime Library. Archived from the original on 2007-12-23. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  16. ^ a b "Mother pleads for pregnant daughter to call". The Kansas City Star. Associated Press. 2007-12-04. Archived from the original on 2007-12-08. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  17. ^ a b "Girlfriend of Slaying Suspect Returns". Associated Press. 2007-12-28. Archived from the original on January 1, 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  18. ^ "Suspect in Kansas porn model slaying back in US". Associated Press. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2009-06-26. [dead link]
  19. ^ Man convicted in model slaying |
  20. ^ Man gets life for killing model |
  21. ^
  22. ^ Jeff Freeland (2007-12-02). "Emily Sander as Zoey Zane: Internet Porn Star Meets Tragic End". National Ledger. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  23. ^ "Emily Sander". "FOX News. 2007-11-29. Archived from the original on December 29, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  24. ^ David Schoetz (2007-11-29). "Body Found in Search for Teen Porn Star". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  25. ^ a b Rozana Hegeman (2007-11-28). "Missing Student May Have Been Porn Star". Fox News. Archived from the original on 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  26. ^ a b Online Reporter (2007-11-30). "Body Find in 'Porn Star' Case". London: The Sun (UK). Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  27. ^ "Missing student an Internet porn star?". Edmonton Sun. Associated Press. 2007-11-28. Retrieved 2007-12-23. [dead link]
  28. ^ Online Reporter (2007-12-21). "Man held over teenage web porn star killing". Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-23. 
  29. ^ Rozana Hegeman (2007-11-28). "Missing Student May Have Been Porn Star". Fox News. Archived from the original on 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  30. ^ "Autopsy Slated for Secret Porn Star". WIBW News. Associated Press. 2007-12-01. Archived from the original on 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  31. ^ L.A. Vess (2007-12-04). "Adult Site Slams Media on Portrayal of Slain Student Emily Sander". Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  32. ^ Natasha Trelfa (2007-11-30). "BCC Plans Vigil for Emily Sander". WIBW News. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  33. ^ "Emily Sander: Over the Rainbow". Perlie and The Loveshade Family. December 2007. Retrieved 2011-12-13. 
  34. ^ "Funeral Set for Emily Sander". WIBW News. 2007-12-03. Archived from the original on December 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 

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