A brilliant and ambitious young student, Shelton Sanders seemed to have the perfect life laid out in front of him. However, a horrific tragedy soon smashed his dreams on the floor, as Shelton went missing mysteriously while returning home on June 19, 2001. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Still A Mystery: Taken Before Graduation’ chronicles the strange incident and even follows the ensuing police investigation, which tried its best to bring closure to the family. Well, let’s delve into the details surrounding the case and find out more, shall we?
What Happened To Shelton Sanders?
Shelton Sanders was just 25 years of age when he suddenly went missing from the city of Columbia in South Carolina. At that time, Shelton was pursuing a degree in Administrative Information Management from the University of South Carolina and even worked as a computer programmer for the same institution’s Neuropsychiatry Department School of Medicine. In fact, people who knew Shelton described him as a lively and down-to-earth individual who was highly ambitious and had great aspirations for his future.
However, Shelton never let his ambitious nature come in between friendship, and the 25-year-old was known for his amicable and charming behavior. Besides, he refused to shy away from people in need and always welcomed everyone with a smile. The day of June 19, 2001, started out as any other one for Shelton as he prepared to travel to the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus from his home in Rembert, South Carolina.
Moreover, before stepping out of the house, Shelton informed his mother that he would have to go book some hotel rooms on his way back home for a bachelor’s party he was in charge of. Interestingly, Shelton’s friend, Mark Richardson, accompanied him to the hotel and mentioned that the last he saw of Shelton was when he decided to drive home alone. Subsequently, even Shelton’s mother received a call from her son, where he claimed that he would return home late. Naturally, the mother did not think much of the phone call but got increasingly worried as hours passed without any news of her son.
Quite shockingly, Shelton never returned home that night, and his mother wasted no time in getting the police involved. Once authorities took over the reins of the investigation, they got a search group together and conducted a massive search of all local areas. Naturally, the police were quite meticulous in their search efforts and used up all available facilities, leaving no stones unturned. Still, there was no news of the missing person, and the hope of Shelton’s safe return began dwindling with each passing hour.
Nevertheless, through their investigation, the police discovered that Mark and Shelton did round up a few hotels on their way home from the university. However, the show mentioned that neighbors heard sounds that sounded similar to a gunshot from Mark’s residence between 11 and 11:30 p.m on the same night. Still, when confronted about it, Mark denied any involvement in the disappearance and claimed that the sounds were made by a backfiring vehicle.
In the years that followed, the Columbia Police Department was swamped with tips claiming they knew all about the disappearance and where Shelton’s body was buried. However, the police carefully followed each lead only to realize that all of them were dead ends. Moreover, the cops also located Shelton’s vehicle in Richland County on April 26, 2003, which made the police take up the case with renewed vigor.
Is Shelton Sanders Found or Missing? Is He Dead or Alive?
Unfortunately, Shelton remains missing to this very day, although the general consensus, along with his parents and law enforcement officers, believes that he has since passed away. Since Mark was the last person to see Shelton alive, law enforcement officials questioned him one more time and were quite startled by his statements. For starters, Mark began asking the police about accidental deaths and getting rid of a body, which immediately made authorities smell something fishy.
Moreover, the police gathered another piece of incriminating evidence against Mark when they noticed that his cellphone location put him in the place where Shelton’s car was found on the day of his disappearance. Thus, putting two and two together, the police got convinced of Mark’s involvement and charged him with murder. When presented in court, Mark pled not guilty, but the jury was divided in their decision. Therefore, the judge was forced to declare it a mistrial, and Mark was allowed to go about his life as a free man.
Although there hasn’t been much development in Shelton’s case since then, his family has not given up hope on getting his remains back home and is spreading the word through billboards, newspapers, magazines, and the like. They even hold events from time to time where people come together and keep Shelton in their memories, while there is a $25,000 reward for any information that can help bring the missing person’s remains back to his loved ones. Interestingly, the investigation is also active as the case is being looked at by the Richland County Cold Case Squad, who are determined to get Shelton’s family the closure they rightfully deserve.