RCSO

NEW HOPE - A New Hope woman was shot to death by a family member at her home last Wednesday night.

In the last few days, there has been a lot of talk, stories and rumors making rounds on social media concerning this tragic incident. Randolph County Sheriff David Cofield released an official statement late Friday afternoon concerning the incident, and according to the sheriff these are the true facts of the case as it stands right now as the investigation continues.

In the evening hours of Wednesday, July 29, officers responded to a residence in the 20,000 block of Highway 48 around the New Hope community. Officers responded to this location after receiving a 911 call concerning the welfare of an occupant of the residence. Upon arrival at the residence, officers made contact with a white male located on the property. Due to the information provided during the 911 call, the male subject was detained by officers. It was later discovered that the male suspect who was detained provided officers with a false name.

After additional assistance arrived, officers then entered the residence in an attempt to locate the individual who was the focus of the 911 call. After a diligent attempt to locate a potential victim inside of the residence, officers then turned their attention to the outside area surrounding the residence.

The body of the victim, Stephanie Sikes, was located by officers outside of the residence. After a visual inspection of the area around the victim, it was apparent to the officers the victim had been moved to this area from a different location. The residence was secured, and officers on the scene called for additional assistance to aid in the investigation.

With the aid of additional investigators and the assistance of the Jacksonville State University Center for Applied Forensics, officers began processing a large crime scene. Evidence technicians assisted by other officers collected numerous amounts of physical evidence at the scene.

The male suspect who was on the scene was later identified as 24-year-old Kenneth Alan Van Dusen. It was determined by investigators that Van Dusen currently has outstanding warrants from the state of Colorado and was the son-in-law to the victim. Van Dusen and his wife had been staying with the victim, but were in the process of moving to their own place. He was arrested at the scene for providing authorities with a false identity.

Cofield said Van Dusen is on probation in Colorado, but had permission to go to Georgia and have a probation officer there. However, he had failed to meet with his Georgia probation officer. When he was stopped by a Trooper in late February, he was arrested for the probation violation. Plans were for him to be extradited back to Colorado. However, by the time Van Dusen had spent 30 days in jail, the corona virus had hit, and Colorado would not take him back.

With assistance from prosecutors of the District Attorney's Office of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, investigators with Randolph County Sheriff's Office have charged Van Dusen for the murder of Stephanie Sikes.

At the present time, Van Dusen has been charged with use of false identity to obstruct justice, tampering with physical evidence, abuse of a corpse and murder. He is also being held for an outstanding warrant from the state of Colorado. The case is ongoing and still under investigation.

Cofield said he would give further updates on the case as they become available.

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