TACOMA, Wash. – A fifth suspect is now charged in connection with the home invasion murder that began with an ad on Craigslist, and prosecutors are releasing new details about the crime.
The Pierce County Prosecutor's Office has charged Jenna Nicole Ford, 18, with rendering criminal assistance. She is allegedly the girlfriend of suspected gunman Kiyoshi Higashi.
On April 28, Jim Sanders was murdered inside his Edgewood, Wash. home. Police say Sanders home was targeted by Higashi, 22, and suspects Amanda Knight, 21, Joshua Reese, 20, and Clabon Berniard, 23, after the Sanders posted an ad for a ring on Craigslist.
In charging documents released Tuesday, Jim Sanders' family told police that a man and woman came inside the home to see the ring. The man pulled a handgun and both suspects zip-tied the hands of Jim and his wife, Charlene. Two more men entered the house and brought Sanders' sons, ages 10 and 14, downstairs.
Prosecutors say one of the men kicked Charlene in the head twice and told her to stop looking at them and that one of the men started hitting Jim in the head with the gun.
That's when, according to prosecutors, the 14-year-old son tried to stop the intruders. One of the suspects pistol whipped the boy, causing bruises and a concussion. Somehow, Jim Sanders broke free and tried to defend his son.
Jim Sanders was shot three times and was killed.
Higashi and Reese were captured in the San Francisco Bay area the following weekend. Knight and Berniard later turned themselves in. All four face murder, assault, robbery and burglary charges. They have all pleaded not guilty.
Through interviews with Knight, detectives determined that someone named "Jenna" allegedly helped the suspects in the aftermath of the murder.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said it received a Crime Stoppers tip last week that Higashi told Ford that he was the shooter. Detectives were later able to identify "Jenna" under a Myspace page titled "The future Mrs. Higashi." They determined she was at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Ark., where she is training for the Army National Guard.
When Ford was contacted by detectives this past Saturday, she indicated that she expected to hear from police. She allegedly said "I called Crime Stoppers," and that Higashi had told her everything.
During the interview with detectives, Ford said Higashi admitted to her that he had shot Jim Sanders three or four times. He also allegedly said that the robbery was not supposed to happen that way.
Ford allegedly admitted to helping Knight, Reese and Higashi dispose of the clothes they wore that night and was involved in cleaning the car and told Knight and Higashi to get rid of zip ties, cords and receipts that were in the car.