Picture of Janis Sanders on brown background with words "Janis Sanders Cold Case"

Janis Sanders

Western Michigan University Cold Case Program is working in conjunction with Michigan State Police to aid in the recovery of the remains of Ms. Sanders.  Her body has never been found.  Janis’ two children have been seeking closure on their mother’s disappearance their entire lives.  

The Crime

On July 21st, 1975 twenty-four year old Janis Sanders was reported missing.  She was last seen in the parking lot of Pete’s Patio where she was employed as a waitress.  Her car was located weeks later about 3 miles away in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn.  At the time of her disappearance, she had just ended a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend Gerald C. Libertowski.  He was also the last person to be seen with Janis. Mr. Libertowski’s home was searched and evidence linking him to Ms. Sanders was found hidden in a crawl space. In this search, investigators found Ms. Sanders’ purse and identification, something she carried with her daily and had at the time of her disappearance.  In 1973, Mr. Libertowski was the prime suspect in another girlfriend’s disappearance, Janeice Langs.  In 1976, he was charged with both women’s murder but was acquitted on Langs’ case and charges were dropped regarding Janis Sanders.   Both women were never seen or heard from again and are presumed deceased.

The Victim

Janis Sanders, 24, was a single mother of two children. She moved to the Michiana with her husband in 1967. Her love of family was her pride and joy, and she excelled at her work as a waitress at different local restaurants in the city of South Bend. She always took pride in her appearance, loved cooking, sewing, and stenciling. Her marriage sadly ended in 1973, but she devoted herself to her children while working as a single mom. In July 1975 she made the decision to move back with her parents to Niles, Michigan. 

The Cold Case

The case of Janis Sanders has been reopened by MSP.  Several new clues have emerged after a careful search through the case file and media pushes.  Detectives are optimistic they will find both women with the aid of new technologies and report viewing evolution.  

How WMU Cold Case Program with MSP Students Are Helping to Find Her

WMU students from the Cold Case Program organized and digitized the entire case file to allow detectives faster access and analysis.  They have helped the detectives in various research projects including finding additional sources of information.  For example, students are currently examining land developments, land changes of ownership, possible burial sites and other relevant data