Article 31: March 2023
Popular photographer accused of arson resulting in woman’s death
An Idabel man is facing charges of second-degree murder in the arson death of a 43-year-old woman, court records show.
Randy Sander, 68, was arrested Thursday afternoon in the death of Danette Stowe, OSBI Special Agent Chad Barnett’s affidavit says.
Deputies were called to Womack Road, west of Idabel, on a report of a house fire with a dead body inside Thursday.
Stowe called the sheriff’s department on Feb. 20, saying someone was at her home trying to destroy it with a bulldozer. At the time, Stowe told deputies she believed her landlord had paid someone to destroy her house because she was not paying rent. The homeowner told a deputy, “I’ve owned that property for 15 years and I can do anything I want to it,” Barnett’s affidavit says.
The homeowner told the deputy he didn’t have the money for an eviction and Stowe was going to leave one way or another.
On Thursday, following the fire, deputies interviewed the homeowner who said he asked his friend, Sander, to help him get Stowe and her boyfriend out of the house, where they had lived for three years.
He told OSBI agents that he had given the couple until Thursday to get out of the house. He said he asked Sander to help him burn the house down.
Sander was also interviewed by OSBI agents. He said he and the homeowner drove to the house and the couple was standing outside Thursday.
Sander said he broke a window on the house and poured about a half-gallon of diesel into the home and lit the fuel with a lighter and then got back into the truck, he told agent Barnett.
Stowe’s boyfriend grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to break the windows of the truck Sander was in, at which point Sander said he drove back to Idabel, he told agents.
Officers believe Stowe went into the burning house in an attempt to save her dogs, which were still inside the house.
Her body and the bodies of dogs were found inside after Idabel and Garvin fire departments extinguished the blaze.
Stowe’s boyfriend was taken to McCurtain Memorial and treated for burn injuries.
Sander was arrested Thursday night and remains in the county jail. As of Friday afternoon he had not yet seen a judge, so a bond had not been set.
Sander is a popular wildlife photographer whose pictures have been published for years in this newspaper, the Hochatown Tourist and other publications in the area.