SARASOTA, Fla. – Police have found the remains of a 14-year-old Florida boy who went missing over a year and a half ago after possibly witnessing a murder.
Deputy Chief of Police Patrick Robinson with the Sarasota Police Department said at a press conference on Tuesday that the search for Jabez Spann came to an end Saturday when the teen’s skeletal remains were discovered in a rural area west of Interstate 75.
Robinson said Spann’s identity was confirmed using dental records.
“I can’t speculate nor will I speculate on how long the body has been in that location, however, I can tell you it was fully ... skeletonized,” he told reporters.
Robinson said an individual repairing a fence along the interstate located the remains at about 4:30 p.m. and called 911. While he would not give an exact location because of the ongoing investigation, Robinson did say it was in a rural area in Manatee County, an area Spann was not known to frequent.
“We do not believe at this point that he left Sarasota under his own volition and went to Manatee County where his body was found.”
Spann was reported missing on Sept. 5, 2017, by a family member. He was last seen the day before, leaving a gathering and going to a friend’s house.
Initially, police treated the investigation as a missing-person case, but Robinson said that with the body being found, the matter is pivoting to a criminal case.
He did not say if police were looking at a potential homicide case. Reports emerged months after Spann’s disappearance that he may have witnessed a murder a week before vanishing.
“We’re not going to speculate at this moment as to the connection to any other crime. This will be handled on its merits alone,” Robinson said.
A police report obtained by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in November 2017 said Spann saw three men chasing 31-year-old Travis Combs into a field near his home and fatally shooting him.
The Herald-Tribune reported that Spann was seen at a vigil for Combs on Sept. 4.