SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - This week marks one year since the skeletal remains of Jabez Spann, a teen who went missing from his family’s front lawn in Sarasota on September 4, 2017, were found in Palmetto.
During a joint press conference in February 2019, Sarasota Police and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported a man working on a fence line found the remains in a rural part of Manatee County, west of I-75, and called 911.
Here’s an excerpt from the 911 call:
911 Operator: Tell me exactly what happened?
Caller: We’re out here in the pasture and had found what appears to be a human skull and some bones.”
The remains were tested by a forensic dental expert and police say they matched Spann. Police say it was not an area Spann was known to frequent and the area was outside their search area.
Spann was 14-years-old when he disappeared on Labor Day in 2017. 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.”
After the teen went missing, Sarasota Police and the FBI estimate they’ve received about 100 tips in the case, all leading to dead ends.
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. The reward money for any information leading to an arrest in Spann’s death has grown to $50,000.
Below is a story from ABC7, marking the then one-year anniversary of Spann’s disappearance: