"We were wrong," Jourden told the Daily News last night. "I was wrong."
Sanders' phone call to Jones, his supervisor, didn't immediately arouse suspicion among detectives investigating her execution-style murder.
Sanders, who lived with a young daughter on a quiet, residential block of Ryerson Road in Northeast Philly, is "friendly," according to a neighbor who asked that his name not be printed for fear of retaliation.
"He was always nice - we would bulls--- a lot last year while shoveling snow," the neighbor said last night.
He was floored when, after watching the Super Bowl, a news bulletin identified Sanders as a suspect in a cold-blooded murder.
"It was a shock," he said. "Just because people are in front of you doesn't mean you know what they're capable of."
On paper, Sanders doesn't seem the kind of man capable of such a crime.
He attended Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, in Thornbury Township, earning a bachelor's degree in social relations and psychology in 2002 and a master's in education in 2004, according to an online profile he created on Vitae.com.
Sanders was also an active athlete at Cheyney, playing wide receiver for the Wolves while at the university. Cheyney did not return a call last night seeking comment.
Although his name will forever be tied to a senseless tragedy, this wasn't the first time Sanders has made headlines.
In 2013, Sanders filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming he was fired from a North Philly foster-care agency for recommending that a married white couple adopt a black child.
Sanders, who had worked as an intake supervisor for Women's Christian Alliance- affiliated with the city's Department of Human Services - alleged that the alliance fired him and a colleague after they supported the white couple over the child's foster parent, according to the lawsuit.
The foster parent, a black woman, decided after the white couple was approved by the agency that she wanted to adopt the boy, despite never previously showing an interest in adopting, the suit said.
The case was dismissed by the court in 2014, court records show.
By that time, Sanders had found a new job - as an assistant director at Turning Points for Children, a nonprofit agency.
And the person who hired him is the woman he's now accused of gunning down.
A chilling discovery
As detectives studied hundreds of hours of surveillance video in Jones' case, watching the cloaked killer flee the ambush scene in North Philly, they discovered a chilling coincidence.
Footage showed that the shooter drove the same make and model of car as Sanders - a silver GMC Yukon that even had a distinctive rear sticker like one on Sanders' car.
Was Sanders' phone call just one more calculated effort to hide his role in Jones' slaying?
Yes, homicide Capt. James Clark said yesterday, in announcing Sanders' arrest in Jones' death.
Clark said that Sanders shot Jones, 56, in the back of her head at a North Philadelphia bus stop because she'd caught him stealing about $40,000 from Turning Points for Children.
On the day she died, Jones planned to report Sanders' alleged theft to the Department of Human Services, which funds the nonprofit, Clark said.
Before she could do so, Sanders "waited for her to come out of [her] house, he laid in wait for her and then he ambushed her" as she listened to gospel music on her headphones at 12th and Jefferson streets, Clark said.
"It's hard to even fathom that someone could even think of doing something like that to someone like her," Jourden said of Jones, a child-advocacy worker.
Investigators used surveillance video to track the gunman as he fled across Temple University's campus and onto the Broad Street subway. He exited at the Broad and Hunting Park stop, walked to a Yukon parked on Carlisle Street near Hunting Park Avenue and then drove westbound on Hunting Park, Clark said.
Fired, then hired
Jones, a recently remarried mother of two, hired Sanders two years ago, after his firing from Women's Christian Alliance, a source at Turning Points told the Daily News last night.
Sanders was assistant director of the agency's FAST program, which provides parent-education and family-support services for 60 schools in the city, according to Turning Points CEO Michael Vogel.
The two had experienced "some friction" at work, putting Sanders on the cops' short list of suspects, Clark said. The discovery that the suspect fled in a car similar to Sanders' prompted police to bring him in for questioning Saturday.
Sanders then confessed, Clark said. Detectives found firearms in his home but were still searching yesterday for the gun used to kill Jones, he said.
Jourden said the last time he saw Sanders was at Jones' funeral at Church of the Advocate, at 18th and Diamond streets.
"He showed up to the funeral and gave me his condolences. Like everyone else, 'Sorry for your loss,' " Jourden said. "It's crazy.
"The fact that he could even look any of my family members in the eye and shake my hand the day of my mother's funeral is just flat-out unimaginable," he said, describing his mother as a "respected, generous, loved and selfless woman that did nothing but try to help people."
Vogel expressed similar shock: "We want to thank the Philadelphia Police Department for their thorough work on this case," he said. "This is a very difficult situation for everyone involved and we appreciate all of the words of support from friends, family and supporters. In addition, we want to thank the staff of Turning Points for Children for the hard and important work that they do every day. Despite this terrible situation, our amazing staff continues to do their job and to make an impact on the thousands of people they serve."
Vogel said Turning Points would hire an outside investigator to ensure that Sanders' alleged theft was "an isolated incident."
Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the case is among the most heartbreaking he has seen.
"This is the type of investigation that leaves you both angry and confounded; it just breaks your heart," Ross said. "This lady was going to work, bothering no one, and someone took her life in this manner."
On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo