Tips lead to man’s arrest in slaying of city woman
When police arrived at the Lincolndale Avenue home of Sally Ann Duncan-Sanders, there were no signs of forced entry, but the dining room desk was ransacked and her wallet was empty.
Duncan-Sanders, 75, was dead and covered in blood. The Allen County coroner quickly identified her as a homicide victim who died Tuesday from multiple stab wounds.
Juan Molina, 61, of the 600 block of West Fourth Street, was charged Friday with her murder. He was being held at the Allen County Jail without bail. He was released from probation on drug charges in August 2018. Through a series of tips from neighbors, police wrapped up the investigation in three days.
The search started when one of Duncan-Sanders’ neighbors told police he’d seen a woman at the home during the time of the crime, around 5:30 p.m., driving a silver four-door SUV, later identified as a 2003 gray Lincoln Navigator.
During the investigation, police tied the woman to a Feb. 22 traffic stop that included Molina. The 2003 Lincoln Navigator was registered to him, court documents said.
The neighbor who identified the woman and SUV told police he’d known the woman for a long time, that she’d asked him for money and that she said she was going to a methadone clinic.
The neighbor told police after he talked to the woman, she backed out of his driveway and waited, and then backed down the street and out of his view.
The Feb. 22 traffic stop yielded another important clue.
The day after that traffic stop, Duncan-Sanders had called in a suspicious person report, although it’s unclear what address she provided. When police got to the address, Molina was there. He said he’d been with Sally’s grandson on Feb. 22, and was helping the grandson remove property from Duncan-Sanders’ Lincolndale Avenue home, court records said.
The grandson had been living with Duncan-Sanders, according to neighbors.
Molina and the grandson pawned some of that property, but Molina said he later realized that the property was stolen and returned a television and computer to Duncan-Sanders. She told police her grandson had been dating the “methadone” woman, court documents said.
With individual connections established, police started searching for the Lincoln Navigator and the woman who’d been driving it that day. They found her phone number and called.
The woman said Molina had gone to Lincolndale Avenue with her, but had gotten out of the SUV when she pulled into the neighbor’s driveway. She said she did back out and wait for Molina, who ran back to the SUV covered in blood and carrying a knife.
Molina told her to keep her head up and drive. She drove him to a garage where he changed his clothes and put away the knife. The woman said she was afraid, court documents said.
Police went to the garage, now known to be behind the house where Molina lived.
Molina was not in the garage, which he had fashioned into his own apartment, but was found at another address after police received a tip on his whereabouts. He was taken into custody without incident, but he refused to talk to detectives, court documents said.
Molina had a black eye on the left side, a scratch under his neck and numerous cuts to his hands that were covered with bandages, court documents said.
The day of his arrest, neighbors told The Journal Gazette they were aware of the charges against Molina. They said Molina lived in the garage and that his brother and sister lived in the home.
One neighbor said Molina appeared to be a nice man and had laid a floor for his mother, who lives two doors down. Molina was a handyman as far as he knew, he said.
Molina had once given him a ride to the airport and asked for nothing in exchange, he said. “He used to come around all the time,” the neighbor added.
In 2012, Molina was charged with two counts of dealing a controlled substance. He pleaded guilty to one count but the other was dismissed in the plea agreement. He was ordered to serve 10 years of a 13-year sentence, but in 2016 was allowed to enter Re-Entry Court. He graduated from Re-Entry Court in August 2017 and was placed on probation. He was released from probation a year later.
Molina is scheduled for a court appearance on Wednesday.