Arrest made in murder of Clinton funeral home owner

A man has been arrested for the murder of Jesse O. Sanders, according to the Newberry County Sheriff’s office.

Michael Saheem Spears, 22, of Aiken, has been charged after the Clinton funeral home owner’s body was found by a driver on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 176, Monday.  Sanders was shot multiple time, Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster says.

Sheriff Foster said Spears was arrested on unrelated charges Wednesday night in Aiken.

Spears was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle from Orangeburg and he was wanted for a Probation Violation and Receiving Stolen Goods in Aiken County. Deputies say he had a prior criminal record which includes, two Burglary convictions, shoplifting, and Giving False Information To a Police Officer.  Spears had previously served a Youthful Offender sentence in SC Department of Corrections and was on probation for one of the Burglary convictions.

Spears was later charged with Murder, Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, and Possession of a Firearm During A Violent Crime.  Deputies say Spears’ bond will be set by a Circuit Court Judge and a date for his bond hearing has not been set yet.

Investigators say Spears posted an advertisement as an escort on the social media website, Backpage, and Sanders contacted him.  A robbery is believed to be the main motive for the murder, investigators say.

Sheriff Foster says this case should serve as a warning to people who use social media to meet unknown people.

“This is no way meant to cast dispersion upon anyone,” said Foster. “But meeting someone online is dangerous. People can pretend to be anyone online and you never know who you might really be dealing with.” “In addition, some people prey on the fact that people who have been duped or placed in compromising situations will most likely not contact the police.”

“This are very difficult investigations”, said Sheriff Foster. “Because of technology and the ease of mobility in today’s society, these investigations are getting ever more difficult. I am so proud of our agency as well as SLED, Whitmire Police Department, and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office for their extraordinary efforts in this case. This is a perfect example of how hard work, communication, and partnerships are crucial to law enforcement in today’s society.”

Sheriff Foster says this arrest will not be end of the investigation. Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 321-2211 or Crime Stoppers of the Midlands at 1-88-CRIMESC.

Sheriff Foster sends his condolences to the family of Mr. Sanders and thanks the public for their support and prayers throughout this investigation. “We simply cannot do this type of work with the support of the people of Newberry County and are blessed to have people praying for us and supporting us during such difficult investigations,” Foster concluded.


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