HARRISON COUNTY — An employee of the Flying J Travel Plaza said she worked up the nerve to call the FBI about a suspicious man and was working Sunday when a nationwide manhunt ended at the truck stop with the arrest of Thomas Steven Sanders.
Sanders, presumed dead 16 years ago, had been sought as a fugitive on a federal kidnapping charge since he was linked to a 12-year-old Las Vegas girl found dead Oct. 8 in Catahoula Parish, La. Lexis Kaye Roberts had been shot multiple times.
A body believed to be the girl's mother, Suellen Roberts, 31, was found Monday near Seligman, Ariz.
The truck stop employee, who asked not to be identified, told the Sun Herald that Sanders had been coming in to the Flying J just off Interstate 10 near Gulfport for three weeks before she called the FBI last week.
"He creeped me out," she said. "One day he told me, 'your eyes are so beautiful, I'd like to hold your eyes in my hand.' I was scared, but I wanted to do the right thing."
"He would enter the truck stop through the truck drivers' door," she said. "There's a TV in the drivers' lounge so truck drivers can relax or take a shower."
"'Mr. Thomas' would come in and drink coffee and get refills for hours. He would buy snacks, sometimes chips, preferably Cheetos. He always made a point of letting me know he had come in. He made me nervous. One day he told me he'd be much happier if I was in his arms."
The woman said it was business as usual Sunday morning when FBI agents in plain clothes simply walked in to the drivers' lounge and handcuffed Sanders.
"He was watching 'CSI,' on TV," she said. "They'd had him under surveillance. It was so amazingly coordinated. That was the fourth weekend I saw him."
Sanders had been featured as a fugitive on "America's Most Wanted" TV show, most recently on Saturday.
The woman said she had heard talk at work about a fugitive and wondered if Sanders was wanted.
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