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Man Charged Following Hit and Run Death of Merriam Woods Teen

By: Michael Greeley
Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013


1:30 p.m.

The Missouri Highway Patrol has released the name of the teenage victim who was found deceased in the roadway Monday morning in Merriam Woods.  He is identified at 19-year old Justin Lee Tanner of Merriam Woods.


12:00 p.m.

A Merriam Woods man is charged with abandonment of a corpse following the hit-and-run death of a Merriam Woods teenager at 3:53 Monday morning. 

21-year old Dylan Sparks was arrested at 6:24 a.m. (Monday) by the highway patrol for reportedly driving while intoxicated.

His arrest came nearly two-and-a-half hours after an unidentified 19-year old male was found dead lying in the roadway at the junction of Linwood and Old Trail Road in Merriam Woods.

Branson Police located the truck reportedly driven by Sparks at the Vineyards Parkway Apartments.  Sparks reportedly left the apartment in another vehicle and drove to Taco Bell in Branson West. 

He returned to Vineyards Parkway and was detained by Branson Police until the highway patrol arrived.

In a probable cause statement released by the Taney County Prosecutor’s Office, Trooper J. Henderson said while he was en route to the Taney County jail with Sparks, Sparks reportedly admitted to hitting the teen saying he knew he was dead in the road.  Sparks said after the accident he left to go home.

Dylan Sparks is charged with driving while intoxicated, tampering with a motor vehicle and abandonment of a corpse.  He is being held in Taney County Detention Center with bond set at $50,000.

Comments (49) - comment on this story

????? - 08/20/2013 10:48:15 AM
Dylan and Justin were friends at one time they alwase partyed at a old mans house right inside of Forsyth so their has to be more to it then whats being told????
Darren Jones - 08/20/2013 11:34:45 AM
Poor poor boys, what a tragic story, our thoughts are with you DC and Justin.
Lorrie - 08/20/2013 11:51:41 AM
They were friends and what happened was a accident nothing more!!!
brieannahendricks - 08/20/2013 12:10:16 PM
They were my brothers!!! We all grew up together!! No he didn't mean too kill tanner!! We are all family!! The 160 family. People can talk shit all that they want too. But Dylan knows the truth. And we all believe he wasn't meaning to hurt him. He went looking for him. Dylan we are all here for you and Justin your in a better place, i love the both of yall you are in my heart!<3 forever and always 160 family
???????????? - 08/20/2013 12:38:35 PM
guess u didnt know what u were talking about because they were still friends and you dont know the truth and never will they were both great kids just a freak accident
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - 08/20/2013 12:43:19 PM
well just for your info they were still friends and u shouldnt be posting a comment on here this isnt the time it was a freak accident it wasnt on purpose they are both good kids
Kelsey - 08/20/2013 12:58:11 PM
first off. dylan and justin have been friends for years...more like brother.they did everything together. its not just 2 random kids! there is wayyyyyy more to the story. and quite frankly,i DO NOT like how you are portaying Dylan to bea careless individual in this situation.he loved Justin! They had their moments but they were brothers never the less! its been like that for as long as i can remember. so i think everyone would appreciate it if you didnt make Dylan seem like he didnt really care by just saying "i know hes dead in the road" because he did! and the thing about statements is,they are always shortened a,you dont get to hear all of it,there was more to it and sometimes they are even portayed in a different mood by whoever was relaying and passing that statement along...
Kelsey - 08/20/2013 1:06:30 PM
also i feel as if the media should stay out of it...the tanners and the sparks families have enough on their plate...they dont need social networking making it worse or harder on everyone.we are one big family and we suffered ua great loss,can you just leave our friends and family alone to mourn about the tragic events together in peace?
R.M. - 08/20/2013 1:40:05 PM
Just a tragic accident, why Justin was laying in the road is still the question. Dylan is completely tore up about it. Our hearts go out to both family's. They were best friends, he just didn't see him.
Jake Corman - 08/20/2013 1:40:08 PM
That isn't much bond, I know someone who wrote a check for $107.00 and her bail was $75,000.
Unknown - 08/20/2013 1:49:52 PM
They were best friends. It was an accident. Dylan didn't hit him on purpose. They were a huge family who loved each other like they were siblings.
katelyn hester - 08/20/2013 2:05:12 PM
They werent friends at one time they were always friends no they were brothers. I love Justin and dylan both and both of them are in my prayers and heart
?? - 08/20/2013 2:09:27 PM
That old mans name is Paul.... and he needs to be in jail for all the stuff that does on at his house i think the cops need to be watching that place from what i've always heard.
A close friend. - 08/20/2013 3:22:29 PM
I knew both of them. They were best friends! They were both drinking together at Dylan's house, got into an argument and Dylan left. Justin was walking home (he lived right by Dylan) when Dylan decided to come back and didn't see Justin and ACCIDENTALLY hit him Dylan would never hit his best friend on purpose.
a friend - 08/20/2013 4:18:36 PM
Dylan, we are always here for you. We love you and hope you have learned to stop drinking especially if you're planning to drive. Rest in peace to our dear friend, Justin. We love you and you will be missed. There must be more to this story. They were very close friends. I wish if someone knew the wholesale Tory, they would come forward and tell it. In our thoughts and prayers
kim oldroyd - 08/20/2013 4:21:48 PM
This is a tradgedy for everyone my heart goes out to everyone, i knew Dylan for a short time and he will always stay dear to me ..he was so sweet for this to happen must be very hard.. i could not imagine.. i will keep all in my prayers snd may God bless
kim oldroyd - 08/20/2013 4:21:48 PM
This is a tradgedy for everyone my heart goes out to everyone, i knew Dylan for a short time and he will always stay dear to me ..he was so sweet for this to happen must be very hard.. i could not imagine.. i will keep all in my prayers snd may God bless
A friend - 08/20/2013 8:14:01 PM
Dylan was on his way back from his girlfriends house after he had been drinking and they were going through things when from what Dylan had said tanner had been laying in the road where he accidentally ran him over he got out and pulled tanner out from there he felt so bad he was thinking of even taking his own life.....ppl remember before u point fingers and get angry there is more then what the media will ever release
that one chick - 08/20/2013 10:20:21 PM
Dylan loved tanner. This is soo stupid he cares and you are all makin him look like he never even cared. Like in all honesty what would you have done in his situation!?!? I bet no one thought of that! He is feeling bad and stressed and scared. He didn't mean to do that! It was a freak accident. Yeah he was drinking. But he didn't go out with a plan to just kill him. He didn't see him. Plus he's not the only one that's ever drove drunk. Or done somethin like this. Like I said. Its an accident that shouldn't be soo overly punished!
Barb - 08/20/2013 10:40:51 PM
This is so sad. My prayers go out to both families.
very close friend - 08/20/2013 10:46:27 PM
They were very close to eachother. It was an accident. I think that if you don't know if either of them you should keep your mouth shut. Ss fir what you say about Paul ... he is a good man and I know for gfact there is nothing bad going on at his house. So yet again you can't always believe something about someone you don't personally know so don't talk about them.
kimberly taylor coffin - 08/20/2013 11:14:18 PM
To all this i add...first off is that dylan shouldnt of been drinking and driving.For being bestfriends..he should of never ever left the scence of this tragic incident.then goes and gets into another vehicle to go to taco bell..that shows unresponsibilty to ur so call heart does go out to the families....but dylan needs more than a slap on the i know both these boys....U kids need a reality check STOP DRINKING AND DRIVING!!
Seriously? - 08/21/2013 8:37:48 AM
I don't care how close they were. He went to TACO BELL afterward, for goodness sake!! He knew he was dead and he still went to get his munch on. That's messed up no matter how you try to spin it.
accident? - 08/21/2013 8:39:00 AM
I know this will make a lot of you mad but I will say it anyway. He choose to drink and drive. That no longer makes it an accident. He may not have wanted to hit and kill his friend but it could have been anyone. If it was your mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter and you didn't know the person would you say it was just an accident? That is why you don't drink and drive!!!!!!
R.M. - 08/21/2013 10:33:07 AM
He didn't just go to taco bell, those that don't know shouldn't comment. He was scared and didn't know where to go, that just happens to be where I met him and took him to turn himself in. People that don't know need to be quiet till they know the facts.
Dani McRae - 08/21/2013 11:24:18 AM
First of all everyone needs to keep pauls name out of this. he didnt do it. Second of all Dylan should have never left tanner there. If you know you hit your best friend and killed him you should have called the cops then instead of going to taco bell. This was not a accident. DONT DRINK AND DRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
R.M. - 08/21/2013 12:29:20 PM
He did call the cops, he shouldn't have been drinking and driving, he shouldn't have left. He knows that, many things going through some ones mind and know one knows what that's like but him. He made a huge mistake and will always know that. No one else should be named in this.
Darren Jones - 08/21/2013 12:49:12 PM
Please keep you thoughts to yourself, if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything. Be strong Dylan we are all with you in this. Tragic accident nothing more, we all do things differently when we are scared.
..... - 08/21/2013 1:38:27 PM
Shouldnt of been driving and drinking and how the hell do u "accidently" run someone over?? Was he in the middle of the road?
Josh - 08/21/2013 2:11:03 PM
You call them great kids, yet Sparks killed him, knew he killed him, and left him there. Then got taco bell?! Sounds like a stand up man to me...
? - 08/21/2013 2:13:54 PM
Well he'll do a good 5-10 in prison. One less drunk.driver to worry about
Rm is full of it - 08/21/2013 2:42:51 PM
The branson pd found him so what are you covering up for him? The point is that he was drunk and did all of this and him and Justin had got in to it the same night and if you look at the mug shot he don't just look drunk he looks high as a kit
opinion - 08/21/2013 5:17:50 PM
I can't even figure out how to put this in words. This hole report just doesn't even begin to tell you the half of the true story of Justin and Dylan.
Ddndsnd - 08/21/2013 6:00:21 PM
I don't feel that anyone should be judging Dylan's character for the accident that has happened.Bthe news is making this situation a lot worse. Dylan is not a bad guy. What happened was a pure accident. He told people that he hit Justin so they could contact the police so in a way he shouldn't be charged with adandoment of a corpse. R.i.p Justin
Blah - 08/21/2013 6:02:43 PM
Dylan didn't do this on purpose it was a accident so for all of you that think other wise are idiots.
Blah - 08/21/2013 6:02:45 PM
Dylan didn't do this on purpose it was a accident so for all of you that think other wise are idiots.
Local - 08/21/2013 6:56:22 PM
heres the bottom line guys...he ran over his best friend after being in a fight with him with alcohol involved. with alcohol involved it no longer becomes a accident. secondly, think about it for a second... regardless of what people say this is what the eye on the outside looking in see.... guy ran over his best friend after they were fighting 2. they were under the influence of alcohol. 3. he fled the scene. 4. he tampered with his vehicle to try to hide the fact. 5. he then left in someone elses car and went to taco bell..... now im not saying that all of that is or isnt true, im just saying if it were two kids none of you knew, how would you perceive this based on what you have read happened. again, im not saying it wasnt a freak accident or a voluntary one im just saying that people are gonna form opinions about it no matter what. especially more so, if they didnt know either one of these guys.
Lisa - 08/21/2013 7:04:42 PM
KalaMarie - 08/21/2013 8:37:27 PM
If you don't know them, stay out of it. I've known them for years. I stayed with Justins mother, Jamie A LOT! They were just llike everyone said brothers! Dylan has a heart and I personally couldn't see this being on purpose. I went to church in RockAway with them when I was younger. And for whoever wants to say that about Paul, you better think twice. He is an amazing man who LOVES all of us kids, and took care of Tanner and many others. He did everything he could to support them. So sshut your mouth about him. I'm sure your no angel yourself. Were all young. Everyone makes mistakes and accidents do happen. Dylan isnt gonna forget this ever and the punishment he is putting himself through mentally is worse then any other punishment he is getting. He has to deal with this for the rest of his life. So stay off his back. REST IN PARADISE Justin Lee Tanner. I love and miss you!!
R.M. - 08/22/2013 4:04:47 AM
Police did not find him, he turned himself in. Enough said!
He was drunk - 08/22/2013 11:39:42 AM
He was drunk and fled the scene. I hope he serves a lot of time for driving under the influence and manslaughter. I don't think it was murder, so yes it was an "accident," but a life was taken due to his imcompetence and irresposibility. I'm thrilled to have one less drunk driver on the road, puting my family and friends in danger. Best friends or not, Dylan needs to be held accountable for his actions. ALL of you would feel the same had it been YOUR best friend, Family member etc. Praying for peace and comfort for both families, as it is a horrible situation, but justice must be served...if not for Tanner's family, for the local community!
...... - 08/22/2013 5:05:56 PM
Tragic...yes. Accident...yes. Excuse...none!! Dylan needs to be charged and sentenced for DUI, Hit and Run, and Manslaughter! You all would want the same if it was your son, brother, father, uncle...
lorrie - 08/22/2013 7:48:50 PM
i know and love both of these boys to me they are my "other" sons justin would be the first one to support dylan yes it was a accident and as a community of friends and family we are greving... dylan now has to live the rest of his life with the fact of what happened .. theres only three people who know what really happened dylan justin and god...
kenny clansey - 08/26/2013 10:01:45 PM
kenny clansey - 08/26/2013 10:02:43 PM
I think that they were fighting, and from what I heard my opinion is correct. they were fighting and Dylan went to get vengeance on this poor poor boy. He was drunk and angry and didn't care of the consequences of his actions at the time being. Clearing Dylan is crying in his mug shot, only cause he got caught not cause his "best friend got killed". for peats sake he went out to eat after words. Probably with a smile on his face. No matter if it was a mistake or purposely done Dylans looking at atleast 15 years to life in a maximum security prison. He drank and drove and purposely killed this boy. that's my opinion.
Unbelievable - 08/27/2013 7:57:02 AM
I cannot believe how many people are sticking up for this idiot that killed his best friend. Drinking and driving is not an accident. He killed his best friend and then went and ate. Remorse much?? All of the people defending this dumb kid need a reality check. Like my name, this is unbelievable how many people are sticking up for Dylan. Another kid died and you want remorse for the one that did it. What a class act you people are... and if you do not understand, I am being sarcastic
lorrie - 08/29/2013 7:26:06 AM
first off im a mom to both these boys and what happened was a very tragic accident nothing more you they would fight and argue but what brothers dont. justin would have been the first to say im sorry ..if you dont know the facts then dont commment first of all yes both boys were drinking and argued but these boys can never stay madder longer than five mins at each other!!!!as far as him going to tacobell and eating thats also incorrect... if you read any of the news reports they all say someting diffrent .. dylan turned himself in.... yes hes guilty but he has to live with the rest of his life knowing he killed his best friend if you know him youd know that its going to eat him alive.and if justin were here hed be the first to stand beside dylan and say stop this...
Ash - 10/04/2013 3:18:03 PM
Both of them are my brothers!! I love this both! They were brothers, we all were family. So everyone needs to stop running their mouths about this because you have no idea about anything! Dylan has a beautiful heart, one of the biggest heats i know. Dylan would never do this on purpose, and like i said you guys have no idea what happen. Justin would not want any of this said about him shame on you guys! All this was, was a accident. I love you justin and you are always in my heart lil brother. Dylan i am standing behind you 100% because this was nothing more but an accident. People need to stop running there mouths!
Joey Easley - 03/23/2014 3:46:36 AM
I personally knew justin and justice will be done for the Tanner family and t hose who loved him rip bro