A Jury spent a little over an hour this evening and brought back a verdict that Michael Joseph Sanders was guilty of one count of murder for the death of Skyler Naugle in July 2018.
The trial started October 28 with jury selection and ended after 7p when the jurors reached a verdict.
The State and Defense rested this afternoon and after closing arguments the jurors left the courtroom about 5:30p.
Sanders was arrested on July 26, 2018 and charged with the murder of Skyler Naugle, who had been missing for over a week.
The body was later found in a shallow grave near Little York.
Circuit Judge Larry Medlock told Sanders on August 30, 2018, during his arraignment that the punishment for murder was between 45 and 65 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Sanders initially entered a not-guilty plea.
According to Washington County Sheriff Brent Miller, the sentencing will be in Washington Circuit Court on November 20 at 2:30p.
Around 12:30 pm on July 26, a report of a stolen vehicle, a Gold, 2007 Ford Focus, was made on East New Cut Road near the location where Sanders was last seen.
A hunt for the stolen vehicle resulted in Sanders being stopped on Boatman Road and York Road in Austin, (near Interstate #65), by an Austin City Police Officer.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Department issued information regarding the stolen vehicle. Former Deputy Ryan Larrimore worked the stolen vehicle investigation.
While the hunt for the stolen vehicle was taking place, Washington County Prosecutor, Dustin Houchin, was in the process of seeking an arrest warrant on Sanders in the Washington County Circuit Court for Murder.
Indiana State Police Detectives had briefed the prosecutor earlier after obtaining enough information during their investigation to seek an arrest warrant.
Sanders was taken into custody by Austin City Police Officers and detectives from the Indiana State Police and is incarcerated at the Washington County Jail.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in July 2018 in Washington Circuit Court, Sanders walked away from the home he was living in at 1707 New Cut Road after police arrived to begin their search for Naugle.
THE ORIGINAL STORY PUBLISHED JULY 26, 2018
Larrimore was dispatched to the lobby of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department regarding a missing person’s report. He met with Amy and William Naugle, the parents of Skyler Naugle.
According to the report, Amy Naugle requested a missing person report be filed on her son. She informed Officer Larrimore that he had last been at their residence at 5158 North West Point Road, Salem, Washington County, Indiana at approximately 10:00 p.m. on July 15.
Naugle and his wife Ashley Perry had been residing at the North West Point Rd
residence for the past 3 weeks and prior to that had resided in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Larrimore learned that Naugle had been employed at Ohio Valley Pre-Cast in Charlestown, Indiana and had failed to show up for work all week, and he had
not picked up his paycheck.
Police say Perry began to contact Naugle’s friends in an attempt to locate him.
She informed Officer Larrimore that she spoke with Michael Sanders at his residence at 7707 East New Cut Road and that Michael stated that he received a text message from Naugle on Monday morning July 16 asking for Michael to pick him up.
Perry further informed Officer Larrimore that Sanders stated that Naugle wanted him to take him to meet a girl from New Albany. Perry stated that Sanders first told her that he didn’t know who the girl was and she was in a red Chevy Blazer, and he then changed his story and told her that Naugle met with Mercedes Roll of Salem.
Based on these conversations with Naugle’s family, Officer Larrimore conducted an
emergency phone ping on Skyler’s cell phone.
Officer Larrimore was provided information from Verizon that Naugle’s phone was last used on Monday, July 16, 201 at approximately 9:15 a.m.
Verizon further informed Detective Busick that the phone had last connected with the cell tower 2.95 miles northeast of the tower at 6990 Ramsey Road in Washington County with a latitude 0f 38.69754 and longitude of -86.00384.
Officer Larrimore checked these coordinates with Google Maps which placed it in a
wooded area approximately 200 yards west of Mail Route Road.
Larrimore then made contact with Indiana State Conservation Officer
Nate Berry to assist in searching the location of the cell phone ping.
Larrimore along with Officer Berry and several other law enforcement officers conducted a search of the area at approximately 3 :00 p.m. on July 21 with negative results.
According to the affidavit, Larrimore left Mail Route Road and went to 7707 East New Cut Road and spoke with Sanders.
Police said Sanders informed Larrimore that he last spoke with Skyler on Monday, July 16 around 3:00am. Sanders also said that he received a text message from Naugle on his cell phone that Naugle wanted him to pick him up to meet up with a girl from New Albany, Indiana.
Sanders stated that he met up with Naugle around 5:00 a.m. on July
16 in the area of New Cut Road and West Point Road.
Sanders then stated that he drove Naugle to the area of his house on New Cut Road.
Sanders told Officer Larrimore that he last observed Naugle leaving with an unknown female driving a red Chevy Blazer.
Larrimore noticed Sanders to act very nervous during his conversation with him and Larrimore informed him that Naugle was not in trouble but that he had been
reported as a missing person.
During the above conversation, Sanders provided Officer Larrimore with his cell phone number.
On Sunday, July 22, Officer Larrimore spoke with Roll at her residence in
Salem. Larrimore asked Roll if she knew Naugle and if she had had any contact with him recently. Roll informed Officer Larrimore that the last contact she had with Naugle was on July 13 when he text her about go-carts and that he ended up speaking with her husband on the phone.
Roll informed Officer Larrimore that she had not seen or been with Naugle during the time in question because she had been at work.
On Monday, July 23, Busick and Indiana State Police Detective David Mitchell
went to Sanders’ residence at 7707 East New Cut Road, to attempt to speak with him further about the missing person investigation.
Officer Larrimore learned from the detectives that Sanders provided additional information during their conversation with him that conflicted with his past statement. Sanders informed Busick and Detective Mitchell that he had received a text message from Naugle at approximately 3 :30 am. on Monday, July 16 asking
Sanders to come and pick him up.
Sanders stated that he agreed and picked Naugle up down the road from his house and brought him back to his residence at 7707 East New Cut Road. Sanders further explained that Naugle told him he was going to visit Chris Schneck.
When the detectives asked Sanders if he knew who Schneck was, he stated he did not.
Sanders stated that Naugle was at his residence about twenty minutes and was then picked up by an unknown woman driving a red Chevy Blazer.
Busick made contact via telephone with a man identified as Chris Schneck through Schneck’s Facebook social media account.
Schneck informed Busick that he knew Sanders from living in Salem together.
Schneck further stated that he had not seen Naugle recently but had last spoke to him on his cell phone approximately two weeks ago.
Busick then questioned Sanders about how Schneck said he did in fact know him and Sanders stated that he knew of him, but didn’t know him, changing his
Sanders also informed Busick and Detectives Mitchell that he lost his cell phone in the woods three to four days previously and motioned to a wooded area north of his
residence which is also the approximate location where Naugle’s cell phone ping
was last received.
Busick and Detective David Mitchell informed Sanders that a search warrant
was being sought for the search of his property for Naugle and/or evidence of Naugle.
Sanders began walking around and walked away from Busick and Detective Mitchell
to a garden on the property approximately 100 yards from the residence and adjacent to New Cut Road. Police say Sanders began working in the garden.
Detective Mitchell informed Sanders that additional troopers would be arriving to
assist in the search of the property including the pond. Sanders again asked what the search was for, and Detective Mitchell advised him that the purpose of the search was to locate Naugle.
Approximately twenty—five minutes afier Detective David Mitchell spoke with the
Sanders, he left the garden and began walking in a northerly direction from the home and was last seen walking down East New Cut Road.
That was the last time Sanders was seen until he was arrested this afternoon.
Police obtained the search warrant and Busick obtained a consent to search the premises from the landowner, Richard Morgan. Upon searching the premises, officers discovered what appeared to be the deceased body of Naugle buried in a shallow grave approximately 75 feet away from the residence in a ditch line.
The body was wrapped in black plastic material, matching black plastic material observed elsewhere on the property.
Officers observed what appeared to be drag marks leading from the residence to the location Where the body was located. Further, officers observed a pond on the above-described property. Officers observed a small boat on the bank of the pond that appeared to have been recently moved based on impressions in the grass surrounding the pond.
Pursuant to the Search Warrant obtained for the property on July 23, officers secured the property at 7707 New Cut Road.
At approximately 8:00 a.m. 0n July 24, Pekin Town Marshall Jeff Thomas and
Indiana State Troopers Kenon Ward and Jeremy Simcoe were outside the home when they heard movement and sticks breaking in the area behind the home in the direction where the body was discovered the evening before.
No one was seen in the area at that time, according to police.
Busick arrived on scene at approximately 8:20 a.m. and remained inside vehicle approximately 50 yards from the home. Afier being there approximately 10 minutes, your Busick heard a loud thud and commotion coming from the east side of the home.
Town Marshall Jeff Thomas and Troopers Kenon Ward and Jeremy Simcoe were located approximately 25 yards from the home towards your Busick’s vehicle when they heard the same thud and commotion coming from the east side of the home.
Busick and Officers Thomas, Ward and Simcoe immediately approached the east side of the home and heard what they believed to be footsteps on the porch and someone running away from the same area where they heard the initial sound.
The officers yelled “Indiana State Police, stop!” to alert the person to their presence, but the individual fled into the wooded area of the property.
Busick circled the perimeter of the home and went to the east side of the home to
secure the entry and observed a blue butane torch that was making a hissing noise where the valve was slightly opened.
Busick and officers searched the inside of the home but found no one present.
At approximately 9:00 am Indiana State Police CSI Tech Phil D’Angelo arrived at the scene and Busick and D’Angelo reviewed digital photographs taken by D’Angelo at the scene and home on the evening of July 23.
A photograph taken of the east side of the home clearly showed the subject blue butane torch sitting on a table above where the officers located it on the ground on the morning of July 23, it had been knocked off making the sound the officers heard.
Based upon the information known to date and speaking with Sander’s mother and stepfather it is not uncommon for the defendant to disappear and spend days in the woods around the property given his prior survival training learned during his tours in the military.
Given this information it was Busick’s belief that the loud thud and commotion followed by the sound of footsteps and running were caused by Sanders entering the property and attempting to access the home.
On Wednesday, July 25, an autopsy was performed on the deceased body that was
located during the search. The autopsy concluded the cause of death was murder and the manner was a gunshot wound to the head.
The police report states that the identity of the deceased male could not be positively identified.
However, tattoos located on the body of the deceased matched Naugle’s
Police are still awaiting positive identification through DNA analysis and dental records.
Afier the autopsy was completed of the body, an examination of remaining
contents within the subject body bag was conducted by Indiana State Police Crime Scene investigators and a plastic shotgun wadding was discovered within organic matter inside said body bag.
Busick spoke with Michael Sanders’ sister, Brandi Morgan, who observed Sanders walking on the property near Little York with a “short” shotgun on
Saturday, July 14 and shooting multiple rounds into the pond in front of the home.
As a result, she messaged their mother, Sharon Morgan, and told her about Sanders
possessing and shooting the shotgun.
Busick spoke with Brandi Morgan’s boyfriend, Trinity Cole, who also observed
Sanders on July 14, walking on the property with a “short” shotgun and shooting multiple rounds into the pond in front of the home.
Police say Trinity Cole described the shotgun as a single-shot, sawed-off shotgun;
Busick spoke with Richard Morgan who confirmed Brandi Morgan’s, statement
regarding the shotgun. Richard Morgan explained that his daughter had called his wife on Saturday, July 14 concerned that Sanders was carrying a shotgun on the
property and shooting it.
Richard Morgan informed police that the shotgun described by Brandi Morgan was a
.20 gauge sawed-off shotgun he personally owned and kept at the residence above the front door.
Richard Morgan further stated that he called Sanders on or about Sunday
July 15 and asked him what he was doing and Sanders responded that he was
shooting at raccoons around the pond and had only shot twice.
Morgan told Sanders to stop shooting the shotgun. Morgan told police he went to the residence the following Monday afiernoon, July 16 and located shotgun at the
residence above the front door.
Morgan stated that he unloaded the gun and disassembled it and wrapped it in a jacket and placed it on the pool table in the basement of the residence.
Busick also learned from Richard Morgan that he had a large black roofing type
material covering a lawn mower in the rear of the residence.
Busick along with Detective David Mitchell, other Indiana State Police Officers and
Crime Scene Technicians performed a search of the residence and real property on July 25.
During the search, a .20 gauge sawed-off shotgun was located in the basement of the home lying on top of the pool table covered with an article of clothing. The shotgun had been dissembled as Richard Morgan had described.
A burn pile was located behind the residence on the south side of the home. Near this burn pile a .20 gauge shotgun shell casing was discovered. Lying approximately 6 feet away from said shotgun shell casing a shotgun shell wadding was discovered. This wadding was consistent with the plastic shotgun wadding discovered within the body bag of the deceased.
Also, near this burn pile on the south side of the home a large piece of black plastic
sheeting material was located that is similar in color and make-up to the black plastic that the deceased body was found wrapped in.
Busick had learned from Richard Morgan that he had a large black roofing type material covering a lawn mower parked in the rear of the residence; however, Busick and Detective Mitchell observed during the search of
the residence that this black roofing material was missing from the lawn mower at the residence.
Detectives located a round nose shovel on the property near the residence with what appeared to be fresh soil on the blade consistent with the soil where the body was found.
Also, near the shovel detectives located a five-gallon bucket with a small amount of soil in the bottom also consistent with the soil from the shovel and from where the body was found.
On July 25, 2018 Busick noted he observed Indiana State Police crime scene technicians perform Luminol testing in the area of the property behind the residence to where the body was discovered. The luminol testing was positive, showing a trail from where the .20 gauge shotgun casing was discovered near the bum pile to the location in the woods where the body was buried.
This luminol trail followed the same trail police initially marked as drag marks leading from the residence to the location where the body was buried.
All of this evidence was presented to the court to established probable cause to arrest Sanders for Murder.