The Emily Sander Murder Case

The 18-year-old college student led a double life as Zoey Zane

Emily Sander/Israel Mireles
Emily Sander (L) Israel Mireles (R). El Dorado Police

Emily Sander was a Kansas college student that was reported missing on Nov. 23, 2007. A massive search was launched for Sander, who was last seen leaving a bar with a man identified as 24-year-old Israel Mireles. Investigators said the two met that night at the bar. Sander's car was found the next day in the parking lot of the bar.

Mireles worked as a waiter at an Italian restaurant that was located near to the hotel where he lived. When he did not show up for work, his boss went looking for him at the motel. The motel room appeared to be the scene of a struggle and a large amount of blood was in the room. Authorities began a manhunt for Mireles and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Victoria Martens.

A rental car Mireles was driving was found in Texas Tuesday where Mireles had relatives. Police believed Mireles may be headed to Mexico.

Double Life

As the investigation intensified, it was discovered that Sander led a double life as a porn star named Zoey Zane. Family members have confirmed that nude photos of Sander posted to the web were, in fact, Emily Sander; friends at Butler Community College confirmed that Sander was involved in Internet porn.

"She enjoyed it. She is a young teenage girl and she wanted to be in the movies and enjoyed movies. She needed the extra money," Nikki Watson, a close friend of Sander's told reporters. "Nobody in El Dorado knew besides her close friends."

Sander was paid 45 percent of the revenue generated by the paid membership site. Investigators said the site had 30,000 subscribers who paid $39.95 a month.

Dental Records Confirm Body as Emily Sander

On November 29, six days after Sander's went missing, a body of a young woman matching the physical description of Sanders was found 50 miles east of El Dorado, Kansas. Dental records were used to confirm the identity to be that of Emily Sander. An autopsy was performed, but the results were sealed pending the arrest and trial of the killer.

Arrest

On December 19, 2007, authorities arrested Israel Mireles, 24, in Melchor Muzquiz, Mexico and was held pending extradition to the United States. Mireles was charged in Butler County, Kansas, with capital murder, rape and aggravated criminal sodomy in the death of 18-year-old Emily Sander

Mexican authorities knew of the whereabouts of Mireles as early as Dec. 3, but they held off arresting him until Kansas prosecutors guaranteed them that they would not seek the death penalty if Mireles was found guilty of capital murder.

Also found in Mexico was Mireles' 16-year-old girlfriend, Victoria Martens, who was eight months pregnant, according to police reports. Initially, Martens refused to return to Kansas, even though prosecutors promised that there would be no charges filed against her.

According to Victoria's mother Sandy Martins, her daughter thought the trip to Mexico was a vacation.

Mireles was also charged with aggravated indecent liberties with a child after authorities learned that Martens was pregnant.

Trial

Mireles was extradited back to the U.S. on June 26, 2009.

His trial began on February 8, 2010, and lasted four days. During the trial, the results of the autopsy were presented to the jury. 

According to Sedgwick County coroner Jaime Oeberst, Sander was stabbed twice in the chest and strangled with a telephone cord. It also appeared that she had been "pulverized" from being struck multiple times with a beer bottle.

Victoria Martins testified that Mireles claimed that he had been in a fight with a man. The two met later the night of the murder at Martins' grandmother's house, then left for Mexico.

Mireles' attorney said that her client was innocent and that after he and Sander had sex, a man showed up and began fighting with Mireles. He took off and when he returned he found Sander bloody and dead. In a panic, he dumped her body off U.S. 54.

Prosecutors said that Mireles showed no remorse whatsoever during the case. He was found guilty of rape and capital murder. On March 31, 2010, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

He currently resides at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Hutchinson, Kansas.