Family Says Missing Florida Teen May Have Witnessed Homicide

December 12, 2017 Updated: December 12, 2017

The family of 14-year-old Jabez Spann said that they have reason to believe the missing boy may have witnessed a murder before his disappearance.

Tawana Spann, the mother, told NBC’s Dateline last week that Jabez, who went missing in September, had his whole life in front of him.

“He was a teaching assistant and a star football player. His career and football were what he really thrived off, so when he didn’t go to school, that’s when she [his grandmother] got worried,” she said.

He was last seen Sept. 4 in Sarasota, Florida, and Tawana told Dateline that she spoke to him that night. His maternal grandmother, with whom he lived, became worried after she learned that he didn’t go to school.

When Tawana contacted friends, nobody knew where he was. Then, she called the police to report him missing.

“They put out a missing person’s alert – but then Hurricane Irma hit,” she told the program. “When Irma hit, that was the last time his cell phone pinged. After the hurricane, they realized this young man is missing for real.”

“We’ve done all sorts of searches, and have partnered with the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to do that,” Genevieve Judge, Public Information Officer for the Sarasota Police Department, told Dateline. “Unfortunately, at this point, they have not come up with anything of significance.”

According to CBS News, Jabez allegedly walked outside and saw Travis Combs get murdered. “Oh my God. Y’all shot him,” he allegedly said, according to a witness, 55-year-old Reginald Parker. Parker told three people he saw the murder and at least one person that he saw the boy after the shooting.

“He told us that Jabez was coming out of a friend’s house when [Travis] was shot,” Joseph Randall, a private investigator working on Jabez’s case, told NBC of Parker’s statements. “Jabez yelled something along the lines of, ‘Y’all shot him!’”

Parker said that while he saw the incident, the suspects didn’t see him. They, however, saw Jabez, the investigator told NBC.

“We have people who we suspect [are responsible for Jabez’s disappearance],” Randall said. “But we’re still gathering evidence to put the nail in the coffin.”

Parker has since been charged with accessory after the fact of the man’s murder. In late November, police said they’re investigating possible links between Jabez’s disappearance and the homicide.

“I’m hoping someone in our community knows something about both these cases. We’re asking our community to come forward with information to help us bring Jabez Spann home and bring justice to Travis Combs’ family,” Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said, according to “From the beginning of both these investigations, our detectives have been working tirelessly to bring peace to both of these families.”

Jabez Spann is described as being 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 120 pounds.


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