TAMPA — Passers-by discovered the bodies of two young women from Hillsborough County along a wooded road early Thursday in Jacksonville.
Angelia Ella Mangum, 19, and Tjhisha Monique Ball, 18, were murdered, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Authorities did not disclose how or when they were killed, but ordered autopsies. They also did not name a suspect or announce an arrest in the case.
Ball's mother, Jerlean Moore, 55, of Tampa said her daughter began working as a dancer a few years ago. She had attended the PACE Center for Girls in Tampa before dropping out at age 16.
Ball had been going back and forth from Tampa to Jacksonville for the past 2 1/2 years, Moore said.
She said her daughter and Mangum were close friends, calling them "two peas in a pod." Mangum was from New Tampa and had been in foster care as a child, Moore said.
Attempts to reach Mangum's relatives Thursday for comment were unsuccessful.
Moore had met some of Ball's friends from Jacksonville, but remained worried about her.
"You still worry because of the style of work they do," she said. "You still worry because it's someone you love."
Her daughter was outgoing and adventurous, Moore said. A tomboy as a child, her dresses were always covered in mud. She took more of an interest in clothes as she got older, and had several tattoos, some bearing family members' names, Moore said.
Moore said she didn't know of her daughter having problems with anyone in Jacksonville.
Tampa police arrived at Moore's door about 11 a.m. Thursday to deliver news of the death, and she soon spoke to Jacksonville detectives on the phone, she said.
Friends and family filled Moore's home and front yard Thursday evening. They came to hug her as she sat on a plastic lawn chair by the front door.
"People grieve in different ways. I know later on, I hurt so deeply," she said, remarking that she's gotten used to seeing other people's tragedies on the news. "Now the shoe is on me."
The women's bodies were found early Thursday along Sisson Drive in North Jacksonville, which is east of Interstate 95 and west of U.S. 17.
"At first I thought it was one, and then I did a U-turn to see if it was a dead animal," witness Jason Brown told Jacksonville television station WFOX-TV Ch. 30. "That's when we saw that it was one laying on top of another that looked like they were tossed from the overpass."
Another Jacksonville television station, WTLV-TV Ch. 12, reported that a witness told its reporter she saw the women naked and tied up in a pool of blood.
Authorities there declined to confirm the account, citing the ongoing murder investigation.
State records show that both women had criminal records.
Ball was arrested last year in Jacksonville on a felony cocaine charge, records show, but the charge was dropped. In April, she was arrested in Tampa by the Florida Highway Patrol on a misdemeanor charge of driving without a valid license.
The records also show that Mangum was arrested twice as a juvenile on burglary and larceny charges in Hillsborough County. More recently, she last year faced a charge of failing to appear in Hillsborough court on a burglary charge.
Anyone with information about crime was asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Keeley Sheehan at email@example.com or (813) 226-3368. Follow @keeleymsheehan.