SARASOTA, FL (FOX 13) – A year and a half of waiting ended Tuesday night as Sarasota detectives announced the discovery of remains belonging to Jabez Spann, 14 years old.
His family feared the worst after his disappearance in 2017. They are now turning to the murderer.
Jabez Spann grew up in Sarasota and for 18 months it's been in Sarasota that his family, friends and strangers have gathered to look for him.
Now the focus is on the neighboring manatee county – and on those who may have killed him.
"We thought we were prepared, but I guess it's not something you could prepare for," said Jabez's mother, Tawana Spann.
No mother should have to feel this.
"When he was hopeless and could not call anyone. That's why I want justice done. That's what I want, no matter who did anything, that's why I want them to be arrested. That moment when he could not call or he could not talk to anyone and he knew at one point that it was over, "Tawana said.
RELATED: Officials: Jabez Spann skeleton discovered in Manatee County
Law enforcement officials believe that Jabez has witnessed a murder. Shortly after, he disappeared.
The community did some research and never lost hope until this week.
The skeletal remains of Jabez were found in a wooded area west of Interstate 75 in Manatee County.
"We have a closure. We will put him in peace. We are going to let him rest but I have not finished, "said Tawana.
She wants her son's murderer captured and quickly.
"It's hard, it's a hard pill to swallow, no one really knows how to swallow," said neighbor Shannon Bell.
Bell watched Jabez grow up and watched the grief that filled his family's home.
"It was heartbreaking. Hear them cry at night, hear the grandmother go to the door and call her name. If she sees someone walking and she has the picture of her walk, she looks, "I want to know where my baby is," Bell said.
For his family, the pain will never go away. This is a constant reminder as Jabez's family and friends are now focusing on the investigation.
"He had a lifetime and a great future and someone stole it. Without any heart, no kind of compassion, nothing. They just stole everything. It hurts, said Bell.
Police said their investigation was continuing from now on. They will examine past tracks and new evidence. They are asking the help of the community to solve this crime.