Jabez Spann Murder: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Still A Mystery: A Community Betrayal’ focuses on two cases where the victims were found dead under questionable circumstances. The first half features the story of Jabez Spann, a teenager with a promising life ahead of him who suddenly disappeared in September 2017. While the family held out hope, the discovery of his remains over a year later only left them with more questions than answers. So, let’s find more about what happened then, shall we?

What Happened to Jabez Spann?

Jabez Spann was a 14-year-old who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, with his mother and grandmother raising him. Jabez was described as a high-spirited teen who was driven and loved football. He always had time to help others in need. At the time of the incident, Jabez was attending a candlelight vigil for a man from the neighborhood killed the week prior. He lived with his grandmother while his mom, Tawana, lived in Tampa, Florida.

The vigil was held on September 4, 2017. When Jabez didn’t come home, the family assumed he was out with friends. But when his grandmother learned that he did not show up to school the next day, panic kicked in. Tawana drove down from Tampa and began looking for Jabez. When none of Jabez’s friends knew where he was, he was reported missing. Then, in February 2019, a man working along a fence in Manatee County, Florida, reported finding skeletal remains. They were identified as Jabez’s through dental records. While the death was ruled a homicide, a cause of death was not made public.

Who Killed Jabez Spann?

A witness reported seeing Jabez with two other boys at around 1 AM on September 5, and it was believed that the teenager disappeared sometime after that. According to the show, the police initially thought Jabez to be a runaway and didn’t issue an AMBER alert. Then, Florida was hit with Hurricane Irma, leading to further delays in the authorities looking for Jabez. It was not until September 18, 2017, that search effort picked up. Jabez’s phone last pinged from a local neighborhood, but that was a dead end.

The investigators then learned of a possible connection between Jabez and the man whose candlelight vigil he attended. 31-year-old Travis Combs was killed in a botched robbery on August 28, 2017. Three men chased him down in north Sarasota before shooting him. A witness, Reginald Parker, stated that apart from him, Jabez was at the scene and witnessed the crime. The 14-year-old was leaving a friend’s place around that time, heard a gunshot, and exclaimed, “Oh my God. Y’all shot him.” However, Reginald later recanted his statement.

Once Jabez’s remains were found, the family believed he was killed because he had witnessed the murder. While the police received numerous tips over the years, none have led to an arrest. Jabez’s mother later said, “We’re going to move forward in the hopes that they can find whoever did this. 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.” In October 2021, Tawana talked about working on a podcast that focused on missing children. The authorities have continued to ask for people within the community to come forward with information regarding Jabez’s death.

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