HOLIDAY — Firefighters arrived at 4635 Darlington Road at about 3 a.m. Tuesday to put out a blaze engulfing the house. They found no one inside.
More than 36 hours later, a 13-year-old boy who lived nearby came to the house. He found a body lying under a fresh patch of dirt in the back yard, with flies circling above.
On Thursday, authorities identified the body as 46-year-old Theresa Jones, who lived in the home with her 14-year-old son. They said she had been murdered.
The boy who discovered Jones' body had gone to the home to search for a motorbike he was building with Jones' son, according to the boy's mother, Maureen Tringone.
Instead, when he pushed aside some of the dirt in the back yard and found human toes, he called police, Tringone said.
The Pasco-Pinellas County medical examiner ruled Jones' death a homicide Thursday afternoon.
Authorities did not release any other details, including the cause of death.
Tringone said she and Jones were friends, and their sons often slept over at each other's houses.
"My kid and her boy grew up together," she said. "All of the kids played at the house."
Jones' son is staying with an aunt who flew in from the Chicago area. The aunt declined to comment when reached Thursday evening.
Pasco County Fire Rescue Chief Mike Ciccarello said firefighters may have overlooked the body while putting out the blaze.
"They don't normally look for shallow graves when they're fighting fire," he said.
Anyone with information about Jones' death is asked to contact Detective Jim Gariepy at (800) 854-2862, ext. 7279.
Nomaan Merchant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-6244.