Sunday, February 18, 2018
Public safety

Brother of Mississippi murder victim found safe after report of disappearance

BRANDON — Arthur Jones, the Brandon man whose sister was confirmed recently to be a long-unidentified Mississippi murder victim, has been found safe following a report that he was missing.

Jones, whose call to the Tampa Bay Times two years ago prompted a reporter's efforts to find his long-lost sister, Asenath Mary Woodin, phoned the paper again Wednesday to say he is okay. He has been living in the city of Lake Alfred, in Polk County, following a split in September with his wife, Renee, he said.

His wife said previously that Jones left Sept. 17 and never returned home, leading to concerns for his well-being.

Marital troubles led to the split, Jones said, but his wife knows where he is.

Efforts to find Jones before Wednesday to deliver news of his sister's identification proved fruitless. He contacted the paper after reading an online story about the results of DNA testing in the Mississippi case.

The results came as no surprise, Jones said. He was sure the unidentified woman was his sister when he first learned of the possible match.

"I've been operating under the assumption that was the case for the last two years," he said. He expressed interest in plans for a memorial service for Woodin, but it remains unclear when or where such a service might happen.

Jones began an effort to find Woodin in 2011, more than a decade after he last saw his sister.

The search ultimately led to the discovery of a woman known as "Rosa Doe," a murder victim whose charred body was found in woods in 2003 in Hancock County, Miss.

The woman's estimated height and age matched those of Woodin. And a composite reconstruction of what the woman looked like bore a strong resemblance to her.

Investigators conducted several rounds of DNA testing, comparing the woman's genetic traits with those of Jones, Woodin's son and her mother. In late November, a match was confirmed.

Mississippi authorities are continuing their pursuit of Woodin's killer. Detectives have said there is a person of interest in the case, but no arrests have been made.

Dan Sullivan can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or [email protected]

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