‘Waiting for a Heartbreak’: When your child goes missing

Exclusive interview with mom of slain boy, Jabez Spann

You know that intense fear when you can’t hear anything except your own heartbeat? When your heart refuses to accept what your brain knows to be true. Fear, debilitating fear on top of sickness. The type of sickness you get from crying, and not being able to eat or sleep. The trauma of a missing child. These feeling go on for days, weeks, and years.

In the case of Jabez Spann, the trauma of not knowing has given way to the horror of finding his decomposing remains. Jabez’s mother, Tawana, knew immediately that she would be receiving devastating news. The detective had never sent her a text before. He requested that she drive 80 miles to Sarasota to meet.

In her heart she knew, but was unprepared to hear the words, “his remains have been found.” Tawana had to go to the site. She had to see for herself where they had left her baby.

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Tawana arrived to chaos. Media trucks and people scattered all over. In her mind, she thought the crime scene would be in a different location, not here. She noticed a field, and then a wood-line of trees leading into the woods. She stared out, imagining her baby hidden among these trees.

Tawana asked the detective “where he was out there.” When he shook his head and told her he wasn’t out there, Tawana turned around and saw the spot where Jabez was found, next to a bob wire fence.

“It was right next to the road. They just threw him out like trash and drove off.”

Jabez, 14 when he disappeared, was found dead after being discarded in a field, off the side of a road near Interstate 75. His remains were found in Manatee County last month. Police said the boy’s body had deteriorated so much that a Manatee County forensic dental expert had to identify him through dental records.


“Saturday afternoon at approximately 4:30 p.m., skeletal remains were found in rural portion of Manatee County, west of I-75, by an individual working in the area on a fence line,” Deputy Chief Pat Robinson of the Sarasota Police Department said during a press conference. “It’s unknown how long those skeletal remains were at the location where they were located, or if they were transported there from somewhere else.”

If it wasn’t for the tropical storm Irma, he may have been found sooner, but the area he was left in had flooded. Tawana’s pain is now fueled with rage and anger, because she knows that her son was driven away from his home to the desolate spot where his body was discarded like trash.

Jabez had been missing for 530 days. His mother waited every minute of those days for answers. She searched for him. She waited for someone to come forward, to tell her the truth about where he was. But, no one came.

The killer(s) let her baby lie on the side of the road and rot. Criminals, gangsters and mobsters used to have a code: no women and no children. You never crossed the line and hurt these two groups, period. Now days, these weak scared fake punk gangsters will hurt anyone. Even a 14-year-old innocent boy who may have unintentionally witnessed the murder of Travis Combs.

Tawana wants to start a foundation to assist other families of missing children. She said while Jabez was missing, she still had to go to work. She had bills to pay in order to survive.

“[It would be wonderful] if there was a way for families to just have small bills paid, water or groceries. At least that would be one thing these families would not have to worry about.”

Can you imagine having to run to the store for milk when your child is missing?

“It seems so unfair when you are watching other families; happy, planning what they want for dinner and you just want out of there to search for your child,” Tawanna added.

Now his momma waits for answers. Her baby was lying on the ground for over a year, and for the past 18 days, his body has laid on a slab at the medical examiner’s office. She will find out more horrific facts about Jabez’s death soon.

Was he shot, stabbed or strangled?

She will know. She will listen as they tell her if he was tied up or gagged. She will most likely learn that he was dead shortly after he disappeared. Her heart will break even more for him. Her mind reels at the horror of what her baby went through.

She will cry the rest of her life thinking about how scared he was. She will wonder if he called for her. She will struggle with the guilt of not being able to protect him. It will be unbearable to live without him as each holiday, birthday or milestone that passes without him.

There will be no more football games to cheer at, no prom to prepare for, no graduation to celebrate, no falling in love and getting engaged, no children of his own. There will be no more laughter, hugs, smiles and jokes shared with her son. A bright beautiful life snuffed out, and for what?

For 548 days and counting, witnesses have remained silent. The streets know what happened; the streets talk. They know more than one person was involved.

There is still a reward of $50,000. There is still time to come forward. The police are dedicated to this case. They must be connecting dots like the burned out car owned by Travis Combs, left in Manatee County. Jabez’s dead body was left about a mile from where the burned car was found.

We at CrimeOnline are not going to remain silent. Answers are coming. I pray for her baby. I pray for her. I pray for Justice!

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[Feature Photo: Jabez Spann/Provided]