New information in missing child cold case

February 24, 2009 4:34:37 PM PST
A one year old girl went missing September 14, 1986, in Atlantic City and now, there's new information that have police back on the case.Authorities with the Atlantic County prosecutor's office will not acknowledge it, but Action News has learned that after 23 years since Bonita Sander's disappearance, a longtime friend of the family came forward telling detectives that the child has been dead all these years and that her body was buried in a wooded area off Brighton Avenue near Route 9.

Detectives from the Atlantic County prosecutor's office and New Jersey State Police dug into the ground and sifted through the dirt looking for the remains of Bonita Karen Sanders.

She was just one year old when she disappeared from outside her home back on Sept.14, 1986. All these years, her father had held on to hope she would be found alive.

"Going to sleep thinking, 'there's a good possibility I'm going to find her tomorrow, there's a good possibility that something's going to change tomorrow,' and then somebody comes and snatches that dream right out of your hand," Abddul Salaam said.

Back then, the child's mother, also named Bonita, claimed that she last saw her daughter strapped in her stroller on the porch of their home of the Virginia Court Apartments, sitting there eating a popsicle. The case was never solved, but authorities say the mother had a history if bizarre behavior.

Authorities say she allegedly had abandoned Bonita at birth at an Atlantic City Hospital and attempted to abandon another newborn in a bus terminal restroom after Bonita disappeared. The prosecutor told the court that the mother was uncooperative in the investigation of the missing child, and gave them false leads and lied to investigators.

But now family members say the woman's best friend came forward and told them what really happened and that the mom buried the child in the wooded area in Pleasantville.

Tameika Sander's is the child's sister who was four years old at the time.

"For some reason today, I couldn't sleep and then I got a phone call, and I had to say, 'wow, this is the reason why I couldn't sleep,'" Tameika said.

If the allegations are true, it appears the mother was involved in the child's disappearance all along.

"You don't want to suspect somebody like that. This is somebody I loved for a long time, she's the mother of my children, and the thing I want to know about it is why?" Abddul said.

Curiously, family members saw the mother, Bonita Sanders, two weeks ago at a school event, after not seeing her in years. Later that same day, authorities told them they had a break in the case.

Family members say that authorities are still trying to locate the mother for questioning, and that they will return to the wooded area again tomorrow hoping to locate and dig up the child's remains.

RELATED LINKS:

Pennsylvania Missing Persons

The Doe Network

North American Missing Persons Network

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Crime Commission

New Jersey State Police Unidentified Persons

Child Protection Education of America, Inc.

America's Unknown Child

PA Crime Stoppers Unsolved Crimes

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