ATHENS — An East Texas man has received the maximum sentence for a murder in 2010. KETK reports that Avery Lee Denton, 49, was sentenced in Athens to 20 years for the death of his former girlfriend. Denton had also burned her body in a burn pile near Brownsboro. He was sentenced to serve 15 years on a charge involving tampering with a human corpse.
The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office began its investigation of the case in July of 2010. Sandra Gail Anderson, Denton’s former girlfriend, had stopped showing up to work. Her brother-in-law became suspicious after no one had seen his sister in three days and filed a missing persons report. Deputy Tracey Dunnington gathered members of the Sheriff’s Office staff and set off to Denton’s residence. Denton had dropped Sandra’s vehicle off and claimed that she took off walking away from his home when the two had gotten in a fight.
Investigators spoke with Denton about Sandra’s disappearance and found human remains in a burn pile just outside of Denton’s home. Denton admitted that the remains were Sandra’s but denied he put her body into the fire. After investigating the burn pile, Sheriff Ray Nutt said that the condition of the remains would make it difficult to determine the cause of death. It took over a year to positively identify Sandra’s remains because her bones were so extensively cremated that it was impossible to extract a DNA profile from her bones, according to authorities.