SARASOTA (WWSB) - The skeletal remains of Jabez Spann, a teen who went missing from his family’s front lawn on September 4, 2017, were found over the weekend in Manatee County and we’re now hearing the 911 call.
Tuesday night at a joint press conference, Sarasota Police and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported that Spann’s skeletal remains were found Saturday. Police say around 4:30pm, a man working on a fence line found the remains in Manatee County, west of I-75, and called 911.
The remains were tested by a forensic dental expert and police say they matched Spann. It’s unknown how long the remains, which were fully skeletal, were there or if they were transported to the rural area. It’s also unclear if Spann died of natural causes or if foul play was involved.
Police say it was not an area Spann was known to frequent and the area was outside their search area. Police continue to handle this as a death investigation and say the location of the remains will not be revealed.
Spann was 14-years-old when he disappeared on Labor Day. He was last seen at a candlelight vigil on 22nd Street and Palmadelia Avenue in Sarasota, just two blocks away from his home.
A witness saw Spann with two other boys at around one in the morning that night; he disappeared just hours later.
Spann’s mother, Tawana Spann, says she believes her son witnessed the murder of 31-year-old Travis Combs and believes someone associated with the murder did something to her son. Police reports say three men chased Combs into a field next to his home just as Spann was leaving a friend’s house next door. Spann saw the men shoot Combs and flee.
"We’re going to move forward in the hopes that they can find whoever did this," said Tawana Spann. "Those last moments that you caused him, that you did to him when he was helpless and couldn’t call on anybody... that’s what I want to see justice for."
Activist Wayne Washington said, “You can’t just hurt a child in our community and think that you can live live and everything is going going to be sweet. The emotions are very high because I wish that he was alive, but by the family finally finding him they can get the closure that they need as a family.”
Over the last year and a half, Sarasota Police and the FBI estimate they’ve received about 100 tips in the case, all leading to dead ends.
The reward money for any information leading to Spann grew to $50,000. Police say they will work with their partners to determine if and how it will be distributed.
Police say though finding Spann’s remains closes one part of their investigation, they still are asking anyone who has information on this case to come forward.
“We got some closure. we’re going to put him in peace and lay him to rest. We’re not done,” said Tawana Spann.
Below is a story from ABC7, marking the then one-year anniversary of Spann’s disappearance: