The Bucyrus Chapter of the Guardian Angels said they were shocked by the recent news that an elderly Galion man they helped locate a few weeks ago was the victim of a homicide.
Frederick Saunders Sr., 68, was missing for four days when Galion Police accepted an offer to help by the Guardian Angels, led by Robin Michael.
“First, I would like to say the Guardian Angels are shocked and saddened by this turn of events for Mr. Saunders and his family,” Michael said.
Michael said the elder Saunders’ son, 36-year-old Fredrick Saunders Jr., seemed very concerned about his father and spent night and day searching for him. Fredrick Saunders Jr., was charged with aggravated murder in the death of his father and is being held on a $5 million bond in the Crawford County Justice Center.
Michael said the younger Saunders was relieved when the Guardian Angels were able to locate his father with family in Marion.
“The family in Marion had no phone so there was no way for Mr. Saunders’ family in Galion to contact them,” Michael said. “The son had no address or current phone number for the sister-in-law of Mr. Saunders. We went on a hunch that he had somehow gone to Marion. We went to Marion and began a search for him and we got lucky.”
Michael said the son was sincere in his concern and gratitude to the Angels for their help.
“Something terrible must have occurred after Mr. Saunders returned home,” Michael said. “The photograph of Lee Saunders after his arrest was remarkably so different from the young man we spoke with.”
Preliminary results of Saunders’ autopsy indicate that he died from strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head, leading investigators to rule his death a homicide.
According to Galion Police Chief Brian Saterfield, the elder Fredrick Saunders lived in the residence with his son and other family members.
Saterfield said it was family members who transported Fred Saunders Sr., to the hospital after they noticed there was something wrong with him late last Tuesday evening.
The Galion Police Department, with assistance from state and county law enforcement agencies, began investigating the circumstances of Saunders’s death, after he passed away in Galion Community Hospital Wednesday.
Fred Saunders Sr., was pronounced dead shortly after midnight last Wednesday.
Following the initial investigation of the family’s South Union Street residence by a Crime Scene Unit on Thursday afternoon, police took Fredrick Saunders Jr. into custody.
A family member of both the father and son, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the younger Saunders uses the name Lee and has served in the U.S. Army.
The family member said Fredrick Saunders Jr. possibly suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from three stints in Iraq but refused to seek treatment. The family member said the younger Saunders had a strained relationship with his parents and recently moved back to Galion from another state.
Saunders Sr. was a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving with the US Army. He was graduate of Zanesville High School and a lifetime member of the VFW Post 3320 in Marysville.
Frederick Saunders Jr., 36, could face 10-25 years in prison if convicted of the murder of his father.
Crawford County Municipal Court Judge Shane Leuthold said he imposed the heavy bond believing Saunders Jr. could be a flight risk.
“Our hearts go out to the family. We cannot imagine what could have happened to end like it has,” Michael said.
Gasuras can be reached on Twitter at @kimberlygasuras