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When Shannon Sander drinks, it's like Jekyll and Hyde, said acquaintances of the woman who, on Tuesday, allegedly fatally stabbed Michael Dunn, whom she once dated.
Sander was sweet and thoughtful when she wasn't drinking, said Angela Gardner, Dunn's niece. But when she did, "it was like a switch flipped in her."
Stana Robinson, Dunn's friend and neighbor, concurred.
"It's all a shock. I never expected this," Robinson said. "I did know she was kind of violent."
Bountiful police said a day-long, alcohol-fueled domestic dispute between Sander and Dunn culminated in a fatal stabbing at Summer Garden Townhomes, 2520 S. 500 West, late Tuesday night.
Police just after 11 p.m. found 52-year-old Michael Dunn unconscious in his home and bleeding heavily. He had been stabbed at least once in the torso with a kitchen knife, police said.
Soon after, officers located Sander, 43, walking east of the complex and took her into custody. Sander allegedly confessed to the stabbing, Lt. Sol Oberg said.
She was booked into the Davis County jail on suspicion of first-degree felony murder.
Robinson, who had known Dunn for about 15 years, said her friend was a good guy with a great, huge heart.
"He wasn't that bad, until Shannon moved in a couple of weeks ago," Robinson said, referring to Dunn's drinking. "She would stay here on and off. And it got more frequent."
Robinson added that when the two got into arguments, Dunn would usually get someone to help him calm down Sander after she would "go off."
On Tuesday, Dunn's family collected items from his apartment, where bouquets of flowers had been left by friends and neighbors.
Dunn and Sander had dated in the past, his relatives said.
Dunn had let Sander stay at his place for the past couple weeks because she had no one and nowhere to go, his family said.
"It's just a tragedy in so many levels, not just for Michael but for her, too," said Angela Gardner, Dunn's niece. "She wasn't a stranger to us. It's a shock on so many levels and a tragedy that it escalated like it did."
Dunn had struggles and obstacles throughout his life, but the past year had been his best so far with 365 days of sobriety, Gardner said. His family remembered him as a good golfer and fisherman, with a great sense of humor and hands that could build and fix things.
"It's the best we had seen him in years," said Jessica Parker, Dunn's niece. "Which is why he was afraid to have her move back in because he couldn't say no to her."
Dunn's family said they knew Sander to be a sweet, thoughtful and good person when she was not drinking.
When Sander drank, she often got violent, Gardner said, and her uncle never fought back when Sander attacked him. They said their uncle was a victim of domestic abuse.
Dean Clark, a neighbor, had known Dunn, who did maintenance in the complex, for the past eight years. "They were both really nice people. But when they got to drinking, they fought a lot," Clark said. "Michael told me that she was a sweetheart. He really cared for her."
Clark remembered that just last week, Dunn told him that Sander, who lost both her father and brother in recent years, was feeling down and she asked Dunn for a bottle.
Dunn told him he wasn't sure whether to get her alcohol because he felt he was enabling her. "He said 'I know that she will get drunk and beat me up,' " Clark said. "I never had any idea it would go this far."
Sander is scheduled to appear in court Friday.
Dunn family statement
The true pages of Michael's journey reveal his tender heart. His contagious easy laugh, accepting and warm countenance, unbeatable golf skills, devotion to parents, his brother and his hands that built, fixed and loved this is the theme of his story. He had pages with challenges, trials, obstacles all of our stories do. But the beauty of life is celebrating everything it offers. Michael, thank you for living your story with us.