Human remains found in a field on Halloween have been identified as those of a missing man, and his death is now being investigated as a homicide, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
The remains of Jeremey Allen Joyner were found by a man walking through a field off 16th Avenue East and 61st Street East in Palmetto on Oct. 31, a news release from the sheriff’s office said. The identification was confirmed through DNA by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
When the remains were found, investigators estimated they had been in the field for at least a few months.
Joyner was reported missing on May 25, by his family after he didn’t meet a family member to take them to a doctor’s appointment. He was 36 years old at the time.
Three weeks later, his vehicle was found in a parking lot in the 600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The car was abandoned and personal items were still inside, according to the sheriff’s office.
At the time of his disappearance, investigators believed it was suspicious, but they had no evidence of foul play, according to Monday’s news release.
Joyner’s death is now being investigated as a homicide. However, the manner of death was not provided, with the sheriff’s office citing the investigation.
His family never gave up hope that he would be found alive. Less than two months ago, his mother, Leverne Joyner, spoke at a candlelight vigil to honor missing Sarasota 14-year-old Jabez Spann, after human remains found in Manatee County were confirmed to be the boy. She explained understanding how it felt to wait for closure.
“It’s been May since last year for mine, and it’s not a good feeling. You always hurt, especially when your child can’t be found,” Leverne Joyner said. “I’m grateful in so many ways for your closure but I’m sorry that it had to be like this.”
This is not the first time Leverne Joyner experienced the loss of a child.
Jeremey Joyner and his older brother, Dariel, were riding separate motorcycles on Sept. 5, 2005, when a drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit them near the intersection of 28th Avenue East and Fifth Street East in Bradenton. Dariel Joyner later died at a hospital as a result of the injuries he sustained, and Jeremey Joyner was left with scars on his arms, legs and foot.
The drunk driver, Javier Armando Martinez-Irias, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the related driving under the influence charges, including for Dariel Joyner’s death.
“I love him with all of my heart and miss him everyday,” Jeremey Joyner said as a tear slid down his cheek at the 2006 sentencing hearing. “Every day I wake up and look in the mirror and see my scars and remember Dariel and how he was killed by someone driving drunk.”
Their mother also spoke at the hearing saying, “This has been the most devastating thing I have ever gone through in life. ... To lose somebody like that ... it will never stop hurting.”
Martinez-Irias was released from a Florida prison nine days after Jeremey Joyner went missing.
Jeremey Joyner had his own run-ins with the law, but his most-recent arrest had been more than a decade ago.
In June 2009, he pleaded no contest to charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, driving with a suspended license third offense and possession of marijuana and was sentenced to 150 days in the Manatee County jail.
Joyner’s other prior convictions included for charges of possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of marijuana, resisting arrest without violence and driving with a suspended license.
A $5,000 reward is being offered by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Gold Star Club of Manatee County for information leading to an arrest in the current investigation. Those with tips can call the sheriff’s office at 941-747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.