A body found in Kansas appears to be that of a missing college student who led a secret life as an Internet porn star, police said Thursday.
Authorities said the preliminary physical description of the body found about 50 miles east of El Dorado matches that of missing college student Emily Sander. Investigators refused to give details about the state of the body or how it was found.
Sander’s case drew wide attention after it was revealed that she appeared nude on a popular adult Web site under the name Zoey Zane. That site was temporarily inaccessible Thursday, as were several sites that bill themselves as “fan” sites of Zane.
But Police Chief Tom Boren insisted Thursday that Sander’s Internet activity had no connection to her disappearance.
“The issue of the Internet and the spinoff of that has been literally crippling our investigation,” Boren said.
Boren said the cause of death was not yet known. An autopsy is planned.
Sander, 18, was last seen leaving an El Dorado bar Friday with a man who has been the focus of a nationwide search since police found large quantities of blood in a Kansas motel room where he was staying.
Official: Publicity didn't help
Prior to finding the body, investigators said they had not found a link between Sander and her activities as Zoey Zane. But publicity about her explicit photos brought a flood of tips, many of them false leads.
Sander, who attended Butler Community College, left the bar with Israel Mireles, 24. Authorities are looking for him and his 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend.
The rental car Mireles was driving was found abandoned Tuesday in Vernon, Texas, where he has relatives. Investigators interviewed family members and planned to bring the vehicle back to Kansas for processing.
“We feel they know where he is at, but they haven’t shared that with us,” Boren said.
On Thursday, searchers on foot and all-terrain vehicles were checking the tall grass along each side of Highway 54 near Neal, Kan., as they traced the route Mireles may have taken Saturday on the way to Baxter Springs to pick up his girlfriend.
So far searches using dogs, planes, underwater equipment and divers at the Walnut River dam have yielded no new evidence.
“We have about exhausted a lot of the resources we have until we can focus on a particular area,” Boren said.
Sander’s grandmother, Shirley Sander, said the discovery of a body would “very definitely” bring closure to the family.
“We had to know one way or another,” she said in a telephone interview.
Sander recently signed a contract for the pornographic work on the Web site, and told her parents about it on Thanksgiving, Nikki Watson, a close friend of Sander’s, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Her boyfriend broke up with her because he did not approve, she added.
“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,” Watson said. “Nobody in El Dorado knew besides her close friends.”
Watson said she does not believe Sander’s pornography work had anything to do with the disappearance.
“Nobody even knew about this until one of our close friends came out and told everybody because Emily did not want anybody to know,” Watson said.