Commonwealth v. Robert Lee Sadler III; Killer of Navy Wife Guilty of Capital Murder, Sentenced to Life without Parole

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Robert Lee Sadler III, 22 years old, previously residing in the 1400 block of Bayhead Drive in Virginia Beach, Virginia pled guilty before Circuit Court Judge Patricia L. West to Capital Murder during Abduction with the Intent to Defile.  Judge West accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Sadler to life in the Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole.   

Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that on September 13, 2010, Shana Hight’s mother called staff at the Waterfront Apartments in Virginia Beach where her daughter lived.   Ms. Hight was concerned because she had not heard from Shana for several days.  A courtesy check was conducted and Shana Hight was found deceased on the bathroom floor.


Officers with the Virginia Beach Police Department investigated and determined that on the afternoon of September 10, 2010, Robert Lee Sadler III asked Shana to help him move a couch.  She originally refused his request, but a few minutes later Sadler knocked on her door once again asking for help.  She agreed but walked away from the open door to put on her shoes.  When she came back to the open door Sadler stabbed Shana near her shoulder and neck and began choking her.  A struggle ensued breaking a folding door off its hinge but Sadler overpowered her.  Sadler used zip ties he brought to the apartment to bind Shana’s hands and feet.  He also placed clear packing tape over her mouth and previously bound hands.  Sadler then used a kitchen knife to cut off Shana’s clothing.  Sadler left the apartment and came back several times over the weekend to clean up.  He and his wife lived in an apartment upstairs from Shana and her husband, who was deployed with the Navy at the time.


On November 3, 2010, Sadler was discovered in a women’s shower room at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth while a female officer was showering.  Later that day, the Navy turned Sadler over to Virginia Beach Detective Janine Hall, to whom Sadler eventually admitted in detail to abducting and murdering Shana.  Sadler stated that he wanted to see her “naked,” and further admitted to having followed another woman with similar intentions but lost her in traffic.


Sadler’s fingerprint was identified from a portion of the tape covering Shana’s hands.  DNA recovered from under Shana’s fingernail matched Robert Sadler’s DNA.  The Medical Examiner’s report showed that Shana died from suffocation; the stab wounds being a contributing factor.  The report also showed signs of sexual abuse.


“This disposition was approved and recommended by members of Shana Hight’s immediate family.  Their desire was to have a relatively speedy and certain resolution, rather than face the uncertainty of a prolonged trial and appeal process,” Bryant said.  “Shana’s family has suffered a great deal as a result of this murder.  This conclusion of the matter so early in a process that otherwise takes years relieves some of the fears and concerns they had.”

Sadler will be imprisoned in a maximum security prison, spending 23 hours a day in a cell by himself. 

Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey L. Bryant, Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin D. Stolle, and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Philip C. Hollowell prosecuted the case.  Please call Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.