Family fears for teen who went missing before Hurricane Irma

A Florida family is desperately searching for answers in the disappearance of a 14-year-old boy who has not been since since a Labor Day barbecue at a relative’s home.

The Herald Tribune reports that Jabez Spann disappeared from Sarasota six days before Hurricane Irma battered the area. His family claims it is extremely out of character for the boy to be out of contact for this long, and say they are gravely concerned for his safety.

“I wouldn’t wish this hurt … I lost my husband in my yard, he fell dead in front of me,” his grandmother Lucille Tillery told the newspaper.

“I lost my brother and then I lost my sister last year getting struck from lightning. I thought I was really, really hurt, but there ain’t no hurt like this hurt — I just can’t explain how I feel.”

The grandmother reported the boy missing on Tuesday, September 5, when he didn’t come home and didn’t report to school. She told the Herald Tribune he was an A-student who loves to play football, and that while he has had one unspecified encounter with law enforcement, she says he would never be gone this long without contacting his family unless something was very wrong.

Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino said at a news conference on Monday that police do not have reason to believe the boy is in danger, and that his grandmother told police he said he was going to stay with friends the night of Labor Day.

“We do not have specific information that he is in danger or that a crime has been committed associated with his being missing,” DiPino told reporters.

Still, police have upgraded Jabez’s disappearance from a runaway case to a missing persons investigation. Authorities have not ruled out foul play despite having no information suggesting he may have been hurt.

The boy’s mother Tawana Spann reportedly created a video begging anyone with information about her son’s whereabout to please come forward.

“If you hear anything or see anything, we all have to come together and say something,” she said in the video.

“I just need somebody to know. This has become very real — something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

Jabez is a black male, 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighing between 120 and 130 pounds.

Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Megan Back at 941-954-7067.


Feature photo: Police handout