By Erica Thomas, managing editor
WOODLAND, Ala. — A Wedowee man was indicted on a murder charge, and several other charges, in connection to the death of a woman killed near Woodland, Alabama in the summer of 2020.
Kenneth Allen Vandusen, 26, is also charged with abuse of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, and the use of a false identity to obstruct justice.
Randolph County Sheriff David Cofield said the victim, Stephanie Elaine Sikes, was shot and killed at a home at the corner of Highway 48 and County Road 95, about half a mile from Huey’s Grocery. The location is in the New Hope community, between Woodland and Wedowee.
Randolph County dispatch received a call at 8:22 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The caller said her son’s friend had called and asked him to help him move a body, according to Cofield. The caller said the young man said he had to shoot and kill the victim after she pulled a gun on him.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene of the homicide and found the suspected shooter standing outside of the home. According to a press release, the subject gave deputies a fake name when they began talking to him.
“The officer that first made contact said he was there between his vehicle and the house,” Cofield said. “They didn’t have any problems from him.”
Deputies entered the home and did not find anyone shot inside, so they began searching outside of the residence, where they found a body.
“After a visual inspection of the area around the victim, it was apparent to the officers that the victim had been moved to this area from a different location,” Cofield said in a press release. “The residence was secured and officers on the scene called for additional assistance to aid in the investigation.”
Sikes, 51, of Woodland, had been shot more than once, according to Randolph County Coroner Terry Sparks. She was pronounced dead on the scene.
“It’s a tragedy anytime someone’s life is taken,” Sparks said.
Vandusen was quickly identified as a person of interest in the shooting. He is the son-in-law of the victim, according to Cofield.
Court records state Vandusen went as far as dragging the victim’s body through the house, through animal feces, and out the back door where he placed her in the back yard on a wagon. Prosecutors say he then rolled the wagon into tall grass and behind a table sitting on its side, to conceal the body. They also say he removed spent shell casings from the scene before detectives arrived.
Originally from Denver, Colorado, Vandusen was considered a fugitive from justice earlier in 2020, with an outstanding warrant out of Colorado. The sheriff’s office placed him in the Randolph County Jail on a charge of obstructing justice by using a false identity.
According to court documents, Vandusen was previously taken into custody in Randolph County, in February of 2020, for not reporting to his probation officer in Georgia, but Cofield said Vandusen had to be released after Colorado refused to extradite him, due to coronavirus.
“We’ve had him in custody before,” Cofield said. “We held him for a while and then about that time, coronavirus hit and Colorado said they wouldn’t get him because of that, so we had to release him after that.”
The daughter of the victim, who is married to the suspect, was not at the home when the shooting happened, according to Cofield, but she was notified late Wednesday of the shooting and showed up to talk to investigators.
Several agencies were assisting the sheriff’s office. Wedowee Police responded and JSU’s Center for Applied Forensics helped to process the scene.
Vandusen is being held in the Randolph County Jail on a $100,000 bond and has a hold for police in Colorado. His attorneys has filed a motion for a speedy trial.