The remains of a Sarasota teen who was last seen in September 2017 have been found in rural Manatee County, officials announced Tuesday night.
Sarasota Deputy Chief of Police Pat Robinson provided the "heartbreaking update" that the remains of Jabez Spann, 14, were found in a field west of Interstate 75 on Saturday.
"This is a tremendous loss to their family and our community," Robinson said at the Tuesday night news conference.
Robinson said a worker repairing a fence discovered the remains in an area that police did not disclose. The worker called 911. That location, Robinson said, was outside the original search area set up in 2017.
The deputy chief said a dental expert identified the remains as belonging to Spann. That conclusion was confirmed by the medical examiner.
Robinson said it is not yet known how long the remains were at that location, or whether Spann died from natural causes or as a result of foul play. The deputy chief said the recovery operation will not pivot to a criminal investigation involving Sarasota Police, the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
“It’s unknown how long those skeletal remains were at the location where they were located or if they were transported there from somewhere else,” Robinson said. “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.”
The search for the 14-year-old started on Sept. 5, 2017, when a family member reported him missing. He was last seen the day before at a family gathering, and was headed to a friend's house when he went missing.
Robinson said police will go back and scour records collected from the start of the investigation. He also urged anyone with information about the child’s disappearance to come forward.
“We’ve always felt that there are individuals in our community that are scared to come forward. The folks that did it, we believe, are from our community,” Robinson said. “We know that people in our community know things that they haven't shared yet. Look inside yourself. We want to bring this family justice, we want to bring this family peace.
“It’s through our community that this will be solved.’
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Sarasota police at (941) 366-8000. To leave an anonymous tip, contact Sarasota County Crime Stoppers at Crime Stoppers at (941) 366-8477 or go online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.
Contact Carl Lisciandrello at [email protected] Follow @carlmarks Times