Sarasota teen's disappearance may be linked to a murder he witnessed

A missing Sarasota teen may have witnessed a homicide a week before his disappearance, according to newly released court documents.

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Jabez Spann, 14, has been missing for nearly three months. He was last seen September 4. The Sarasota Police and FBI continue searching. There's a $25K dollar reward and still no clues! 

Now what's been rumored may be true. According to court records, Jabez may be the victim of retaliation.

Jabez’s grandmother Lucia Tillery has been his guardian since he was two months old. “I just want him back. I want him back,” said Lucia as she wiped away tears. But after so much time, she suspects the worst.  “I feel someone killed him.”

On Labor Day, Jabez caught up with friends at a basketball court a few blocks from home but wasn’t wearing his sneakers. Lucia said, “He was coming back to change his shoes and never made it home. I think he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

In a sworn affidavit to Sarasota police, a 55-year-old man links the teen to a murder on August 28 and possibly the reason for his disappearance.

According to the police report, he saw three suspects surround the victim in an empty lot a couple of blocks from his home on 22 Street and 16 Avenue. He heard one suspect say “give it up.” The victim said, “I ain’t got it.” Then, the man heard one single gunshot. The man said Jabez was right there and saw it all happen.

The man also said he heard Jabez shout out “Oh my God. Y'all shot him.”

Jabez disappeared a week later without a trace.

“This is a hurt I don’t wish on my worst enemy,” said Lucia, sobbing.

Jabez’s aunt, Latohya Jakes, says the family needs closure. “It’s turned into anger, tears, sadness equal anger. We just want him back…make the call, be anonymous.”

“Either way, I want him back because I don’t want him laying somewhere like nobody doesn’t care,” added Lucia.

Jabez’s football jersey has hung in the front yard since he went missing and will stay there until he returns. The family says it’s their yellow ribbon of hope.

Lucia said, “He loved football. He was a good kid…very smart…Not having closure, it’s destroying my family.”

The man in the affidavit recanted his story about Jabez, but based on the details and sworn statements from three other people, police charged him with accessory to murder in the August case.  

Sarasota police say both cases and their possible link to each other, remain under investigation.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Sarasota Crime Stoppers at 941-366-TIPS.

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