Sara Summer Murder: What Happened to Jason Sanders?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder in the Heartland: Summer’s Deadly Fling’ profiles the unexpected murder case of Sara Summer, a young mother of three. When her body was discovered in the middle of a field after missing for a few days, shockwaves were sent across the entire community of Trenton, Tennessee. The episode focuses on the investigation that followed the tragedy while also featuring interviews with Sara’s loved ones, who talk about the devastating impact of losing her for good.

Days After Going Missing, Sara Summer Was Found Dead in a Field

Brought into the world by Mary Katherine “Kathy” Melton Flemings and Charles Curtis Summer on July 1, 1977, Sara Katherine Summer supposedly grew up in a household filled with loving parents and siblings — a sister named Sonya Summer and three brothers, LeRoy Lewis, Sammy Lewis, and Cody Summer. Since their mother, Kathy, was a homemaker, Sara spent a lot of time with her and was particularly close to her. When Kathy and Charles parted ways, the former got married to James Flemings, who accordingly became the stepfather of Sara.

Since her early days, Sara was a happy child who only focused on the good side of people. When she was dating Bruce, she gave birth to her first son, who was named Christopher Summer, AKA Chris. After ending things on mutual and amicable terms with Bruce, Sara formed an intimate connection with a guy named Tim Hinson. Having spent some time together, they decided to tie the knot and make their relationship official. After the marriage, Sara welcomed two more sons into the world — Shane and Adam Hinson. The Trenton resident used to work as a manager at a local restaurant, at the time of her disappearance,

On September 6, 2004, around 5 pm in the evening, Sara’s sister, Sonya Summer, received a call from their mother, Kathy, who informed her that Sara hadn’t returned to her house to pick up her three sons, something very unlikely of her. As nobody could get in touch with her, Sara’s family and friends began getting worried about her whereabouts and well-being. In search of Sara, her father, Charles Summer, begins inquiring about his missing daughter on different roads and streets, including her friends’ places. About 24 hours after Sara went missing, on September 7, 2004, her parents filed a missing person’s report at the police station, hoping to get some much-needed help in locating their beloved daughter.

When the police searched the missing woman’s apartment, they found nothing out of place and no sign of a forced entry. However, her blue van was missing from the driveway. So, after spending six long days searching for any sign of Sara Summer, on September 12, 2004, the police received a tip about a burned blue van out in the middle of a cornfield located off White Brothers Road between Humboldt and Gibson. Upon reaching the cornfield, the investigators found Sara’s burned blue van and her burned body right outside of it. After testing her body for evidence, it was reported that a blunt force trauma to the back of her head was the cause of the 27-year-old woman’s demise. Her mother, Kathy, seemed to be the most affected by the devastating news as she had a breakdown so bad that she had to be admitted to a hospital.

A Close One Was Responsible For the Murder of Sara Summer

As soon as the police found the body of Sara Summer in the cornfield, the missing case turned into a homicide case. The detectives soon interrogated all the family members, friends, and colleagues of Sara, in hopes of shortlisting some suspects and learning if anyone had a possible motive to commit murder. The authorities found out that Tim Hinson, during their marriage, was quite violent with Sara. Reports even suggested that he physically assaulted her and even pushed her down while she was eight months into her pregnancy. Moreover, not long before her disappearance, Sara and Tim had gotten divorced, with the former getting complete custody of the children.

All these claims against Tim made the police lay special focus on him. Around the same time of her divorce with Tim, Sara also went out with another guy named Clay, who became another person of interest in the case. However, Sara was reportedly also involved with Jason Sanders, a polite and friendly guy with a steady job and whose family was well-known in the community. The authorities found his name mentioned on a calendar they found in Sara’s house while searching for clues. So, as they tried to connect with Jason, his father told the detectives that he was in Kansas.

Jason called the station back and the police began interrogating him about his whereabouts at the time of Sara’s disappearance. He claimed that she was with Clay the last time he met her. But when they dug deeper into Jason’s alibi and claims, they found out that on the day Sara’s body and van were found burned in the field, he was in Trenton, buying a gas can at the Little General gas station, all of which was captured on the surveillance footage. When he was brought in for questioning, he confessed to the crime but gave the police his version of what actually transpired on the fateful day. He claimed that he and Sara met and had sex in her blue van.

But soon after that, he alleged that they got into a heated argument over some money that he was supposed to pay her back. During the fight, Sara hit him in the midsection before he hit her on the nose, as per Jason’s claims. However, the autopsy result indicated that she was injured on the back of her head. So, six months after Sara’s sudden disappearance, in March 2005, Jason Sanders was arrested for the murder of Sara Summers in September 2006. On July 11, 2006, he took a plea deal with the prosecutors in hopes of receiving a reduced sentence for his crimes. Consequently, he received a sentence of 15 years in prison. However, Jason managed to get released from jail before serving the complete sentence as he got out on December 22, 2017.

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