The search for missing 12-year-old Naomi Jones ended in heartbreak Monday when the child’s body was found by fishermen Monday afternoon.
The investigation immediately shifted into a homicide investigation, said Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan, and persons of interest have been identified.
Naomi's body was found in Eight Mile Creek just before 4 p.m. by two men on their way home from work who stopped to scout out a fishing spot. The creek is four miles from Naomi's home and a mile outside the main search and rescue area.
Naomi had been missing since just after noon on Wednesday afternoon, when she was last seen publicly near her home at Aspen Village Apartments on East Johnson Avenue.
“We have reason to believe through all the activities that have occurred over the last five days that we now have sufficient information to pursue some individuals who are persons of interest, who may be involved not only in the disappearance of Naomi, but quite possibly may be involved with her homicide,” Morgan said.
Morgan would not confirm if the persons of interest are in custody or why they suspect Naomi was murdered.
When asked about motive, Morgan was visibly upset.
"I don't care why, you killed one of my citizens, that’s all I care about,” Morgan said Monday. “I will leave the why to the psychologists and the scriptwriters.
ECSO investigators are working with the FBI on a more definitive timeline of when she left her home. The last communication anyone had with Naomi was 12:21 p.m. in a cell phone call to a friend.
“We want to solve this crime and bring to justice the person who took Naomi’s life,” Morgan said.
Law enforcement officials followed up on more than 200 tips and scoured a three-mile radius in the search for Naomi that went around the clock, conducting more than 300 interviews and executing 30 search warrants, according to ECSO Chief Deputy Chip Simmons.
The FBI had 20-25 agents on the case, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement engaged its entire regional operation, numerous other local and regional agencies were assisting, including more than 200 community volunteers from all over the country, including tracking and cadaver dogs.
As of Sunday afternoon, the cadaver dogs had not hit on any triggers, Morgan said.