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Missing Woman’s Body Found Under Floor, Ex-Husband Charged With Murder

August 26, 1987

LOCKE MILLS, Maine (AP) _ A stone mason accused of killing his wife six years ago and burying the body beneath the concrete floor of their log house surrendered Wednesday and was being held on a murder charge, police said.

Alfred H. Saunders was picked up near his home in the nearby western Maine town of Bryant Pond after a relative called the Oxford County sheriff’s office and said Saunders would turn himself in.

Saunders, 41, was being held without bail at the county jail in South Paris pending arraignment Thursday in District Court, said Deputy Attorney General Fernand LaRochelle.

The state’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Henry Ryan, was performing an autopsy Wednesday on the decomposed remains of Joan L. Saunders, who was 34 when she was reported missing in 1981.

The dead woman, who LaRochelle said was the second of Saunders’ four wives, was identified through dental records.

LaRochelle said preliminary autopsy reports indicated that the woman had been shot.

LaRochelle said he was uncertain when the woman died, but ″the information we’ve got would indicate that it happened six years ago,″ when she disappeared.

The woman was considered a missing person until late last year, when her relatives contacted state police and suggested the log house where she had lived with Saunders should be searched more carefully.

Capt. Reynold LaMontagne, chief of detectives for the state police, said investigators used special equipment Monday to test the structure of the floor and the ground beneath it. On Tuesday, a contractor used jackhammers to break up the portion of the floor under which the body was found.

The house in Locke Mills is now owned by a Portland couple, who gave their permission for the excavation.

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