Sheriff at a loss after wife's murder

MARIANNA, Fla. (AP) - Jackson County Sheriff John McDaniel was on the phone with his wife in the moments before gunmen shot her down outside their rural home in January.

He first thought the men were salesmen.

Speaking for the first time since the January 30th attack that claimed his wife and a deputy, John McDaniel said he and two other deputies raced to the 30-acre farm, but Mellie McDaniel and Deputy Michael Altman had already been shot to death. The sheriff jumped out of his car - unarmed - and one of the gunman fire at him - and missed.

The gunmen, Lionel Sands and Daniel Brown were carrying plastic restraints, bleach, vinegar and latex gloves, authorities said. It appears kidnapping was the motive, but a grand jury ruled this month the quote 'evil motive' died with the men.

McDaniel's office had investigated Sands in the 2001 death of his second wife. Sands was never charged, but the investigation prevented him from collecting a 500-thousand dollar life insurance policy. A judge ruled last month there was strong evidence Sands killed his wife.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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