Murder Suspect Kills Himself

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

As investigators went to close the case into 30-year-old Steven Sampier's murder, their suspect took matters into his own hands.

As first reported on WILX.com, Jackson County sheriff's deputies say Todd Sanford, the 33-year-old owner of The Rocket nightclub in Jackson, was about to be arrested on felony murder charges. As a deputy approached his car, they say Sanford shot himself and later died at University of Michigan hospital.

Sanford was suspected in the November 25th murder of Sampier, the corrections officer who was found in his burning Blackman Township home, lit on fire to cover up his homicide, police said then.

According to the club's web site and Sanford's MySpace page, he had once been a state trooper. But he traded in his badge to live the life of a nightclub owner. The people who work near him say they can't believe how his life has now ended.

We heard he had killed himself-- it's just really shocking. You just don't believe it," says Darla Amber McDowell.

McDowell works next door to The Rocket at a hair salon. She knew Sanford, but not well, and says she'd seen police interview him in the past week at his bar.

"Sometimes people don't know what to do, there's nowhere else to turn. They made a bad choice, they don't know how to deal with it. It's just sad," she says.

Sanford's MySpace page says he's a parent and shows his involvement in the nightclub scene.

Someone left a message Wednesday, the day he died, saying happy birthday.

His own message on MySpace-- "Here for a good time, not here for a long time!"-- haunting.

Authorities in Jackson say there will be a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the details of this case. Stay with News 10 for the latest on this story.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 11, 2009 at 05:29 PM
    ok iam close to steven but i just want to say that it wasnt right what todd did but everyone makes desisions jusst sometimes you can only make them once. But i do believe that we should all stop putting down todd because he probully was a good guy he just made a bad desision. please people let his family remember him how they want. LET THEM MOURN!!! and as for people putting down steven he was a good guy and did nothing wrong he just dated the wrong persons EX girlfriend whichis SUPPOSED to mean no strings attached/move on with ur life. my prayers go out to both families rest in peace steven
  • by gigantic lady Location: Jackson on Dec 19, 2008 at 12:58 PM
    The sad part about the whole thing is that if the first guy (Steven) did not accept Christ as his personal Savior he lost his soul. THe sad part about Todd is that he lost his soul. You may ask how can I be so sure. Well, suicide is a sin and once you kill yourself you can not ask for forgiveness. I just hope that Steven made peace with God before he was murdered. I lost someone dear to me 5 years ago (my mom) my heart goes out to the families.
  • by Lady Cat and Derek craw in a hole Location: clark lake on Dec 18, 2008 at 10:54 PM
    your Dumb!! We all know what happened because he told Kelly what he did. There is no rest in peace for him. he is a killer not a good guy that did bad things. that is what is wrong with this world. people that can justify or down play an act like this. anyone that looks up to this guy and says things like he's a good guy that got messed up should be ashamed that there morals are so low. I am sorry for Steve's family
  • by Anonymous Location: Jackson on Dec 18, 2008 at 04:05 PM
    I just want to say that its a sad situation for everyone involved. My prayers go out to you all. As for Todd no one can judge him now but GOD!!! wheather he was wrong or not no one will ever know. Its time now to show the family all the love and support we can. Most of all keep them all in our prayers including Todd!!!!!
  • by MARK Location: LANSING on Dec 18, 2008 at 01:22 PM
    TAX DOLLARS SAVED FINALLY
  • by Anonymous Location: Jackson on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:35 PM
    Yea, makes sense....he's a "wonderfu" guy and a "good" guy, only one problem....he's a murderer. If some girl came on to me which she did with Steve, I have to admit most people don't think they are going to get MURDERED for just dating an EX GIRLFRIEND of someone else. EX means no more....ties are over...get over it dude.
  • by Lisa Location: Holt on Dec 18, 2008 at 11:01 AM
    Replying to Derek in Jackson: Murder is wrong, period. Doesn't matter if both people were doing something wrong. That does not give someone permission to kill. Having all the facts will not change the fact that this guy killed another human being and is wrong for doing so. Period. This is not judging someone. It's stating a fact. Knowing that the other person (the victim) was also in the wrong doesn't mean he deserved to be killed, and will does not change my belief either.
  • by D.A.L. Location: Fowlerville on Dec 18, 2008 at 10:17 AM
    I knew Todd before he owned The Rocket. He was a wonderful person and a very good trooper. We lost touch when I moved away from Jackson. Maybe that is a good thing, because now I will always remember him as that good person. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of both men. May God bless them and help them through what is surely the hardest time of their lives.
  • by TrapBoy 517 Location: jackson on Dec 18, 2008 at 09:22 AM
    I JUST WANT TO SAY REST IN PEACE TO TODD AND MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO HIS FAMILY AND ALL FAMILIES INVOLED WITH THIS TRAGIC SITUATION THE ROCKET OFTEN GO ALOT OF BAD PUBLICITY BUT I HAVE ALOT OF GOOD MEMORIES I ENJOYED TODD AS WELL AS PATRICK AND EVERY BODY ON THE STAFF THEY ALWAYS MADE ME FEEL COMFORTABLE AND TODD WILL BE SADLY MISSED THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER CLUB LIKE IT ONCE AGAIN THANKS FOR ALL THE GOOD TIMES.
  • by wyatt earp Location: michigan on Dec 18, 2008 at 08:57 AM
    how can some of you equalize the two acts? he killed a man in cold blood, premeditated and tried to cover it up using his prior knowledge as a state trooper. what a dope. as for a bad choice, you steal a pack of gum from a candy store, thats a bad choice. he made a horrific choice. and to those who chose to help him, either by hiding the truth, or not talking him into turning himself in, you are guilty too. rip more like rest in pieces
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