Who is Jodi Sanderholm? - Tragedy of a Dancer's Untimely Demise

Jodi SanderholmDetail
Age19 years old
FamilyDaughter of Brian J. and Cindy A. (Shanks) Sanderholm, sister to Jennifer Aldridge1 2.
EducationAttended Arkansas City schools, graduating from Arkansas City High School in 2006. Was a student at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, and a member of the Cowley College Tigerettes dance team3 4.
CareerNot specifically mentioned, but she was a college student and a member of a dance team at the time of her death.
Place of DeathKaw Wildlife Area, Cowley County, Kansas5.
Cause of DeathBeaten, repeatedly strangled, anally sodomized, and raped. Her mouth, ears, anal cavity, and vaginal canal were stuffed with leaves, twigs, and debris5.
Suspects in DeathJustin Thurber was convicted of her murder2.
Podcasts Which Cover the StoryCrime Junkie Podcast6.

Early Life and Education

Jodi LeAnn Sanderholm was born into a loving family as the daughter of Brian J. and Cindy A. (Shanks) Sanderholm. She grew up in Kansas with her sister Jennifer Aldridge, and from an early age, Jodi showed a passion for dance. She attended Arkansas City schools and was a standout student, achieving the honor of valedictorian of her high school's graduating class. Her academic excellence was matched by her talent in dance, as she became the captain of her high school dance line in her last two years7 4.

College Years and Dance

After high school, Jodi continued her education at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas. There, she joined the Cowley College Tigerettes dance team, where she not only performed but also choreographed dance routines. Her commitment to dance was a significant part of her life, and she shared this passion with her best friend, with whom she went to college7 5.

The Tragedy

Jodi's life was tragically disrupted when she began receiving unwanted attention and found herself the target of a stalker. This stalker, later identified as Justin Thurber, had been watching her since she was 13 years old. In the days leading up to her disappearance, Jodi and other female students experienced disturbing incidents, including hang-up calls and vandalism to their cars7 5.

On January 5, 2007, after a dance practice session at Cowley College, Jodi went missing. Her disappearance led to a frantic search by her family, friends, and the local police. Tragically, her body was found in the Kaw Wildlife Area in Cowley County, Kansas. The autopsy revealed the horrific details of her murder, which included being beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted5 2.

Aftermath and Legacy

The investigation into Jodi's murder revealed that Justin Thurber was the perpetrator. He was convicted of aggravated kidnapping, capital murder, rape, and sodomy, and was sentenced to death. He remains on death row, having never admitted to the murder7 2.

In the wake of her death, Jodi's family became advocates for stalking victims, leading to the creation of "Jodi's Law" in Kansas, which broadened the definition of stalking and made it easier to prosecute perpetrators7 8.

Jodi's story has been covered by various true crime platforms, including the Crime Junkie Podcast, bringing awareness to the dangers of stalking and the importance of community vigilance6.

Jodi Sanderholm's life was marked by her joyous spirit, her dedication to dance, and her academic achievements. Her untimely death was a profound loss to her family, friends, and all who knew her. Her legacy continues through the laws and awareness raised in her name, aimed at preventing such tragedies from happening to others.



  1. https://www.wibw.com/content/news/Jodi-Sanderholm-killers-death-sentence-overturned-485665641.html

  2. https://www.ksn.com/news/local/man-convicted-for-2007-murder-of-jodi-sanderholm-appeals-conviction/ 2 3 4

  3. https://www.wibw.com/2021/08/13/convicted-murderer-jodi-sanderholm-be-appointed-counsel-post-conviction-dna-test/

  4. https://www.rindt-erdman.com/obituaries/Jodi-LeAnn-Sanderholm?obId=428097 2

  5. https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/crimefeed/id-shows/murder-under-the-friday-night-lights/the-disappearance-of-a-college-freshman-revealed-a-small-town-stalker 2 3 4 5

  6. https://crimejunkiepodcast.com/murdered-jodi-sanderholm/ 2

  7. https://vocal.media/criminal/the-true-crime-story-of-jodi-sanderholm 2 3 4 5

  8. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4424682/bio/