Family of Gail Sands Issues Statement

The family of Gail Sands says they believe Tuesday's deadly shootings in Jackson County strengthens their belief that Lionel Sands killed his wife Gail in 2001.

Gail Sands was found by Lionel and his friend Daniel Brown floating face down in the Sands pool. The two were the only witnesses, claiming she had fallen off a ladder, hit her head and then fell into the pool.

A medical examiner revealed there were signs of blunt force trauma to the back of Gail's head. Sands had been considered a suspect by the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, but investigators say they didn't have enough evidence to pin the her death on Sands.

State Attorney Steve Meadows says Sands recently dismissed a federal court case involving a legal fight with an insurance company over his wife's life insurance policy. He had learned he would have to reimburse the company for legal fees it incurred during the legal battle.

In response to the events of January 30, 2007, in Marianna, Florida, the family of Eloise Heaps, Carol Ashworth and Ann Mortensen wish to release the following statement:

“Our family is deeply saddened at the loss of two more innocent lives in Marianna, Florida. Since the death in 2001 of our daughter and sister, Gail Sands, our family has struggled to find answers to what actually happened on the day of her death. Sadly, the brutal actions of Lionel Sands and Daniel Brown strengthen our belief that Lionel Sands killed Gail. This confirmation, however, is of no comfort having come from the tragic and senseless murders of the Sheriff’s wife and a deputy sheriff. The thoughts and prayers of our entire family are with each of those who are suffering under the loss of a loved one, colleague or friend. Out of respect for the McDaniel and Altman families, while this matter remains under investigation our family will have no further comment. Eloise Heaps, Carol Ashworth, Ann Mortensen.”