Family invites public to funeral for Sarasota teen found dead in Palmetto

A community is mourning with the family of 14-year-old Jabez Spann after nearly 18 months of searching for the Sarasota teen ended when his remains were found more than a week ago along a rural Manatee County road.

Those wishing to pay their final respects to the teen and his family will have an opportunity on Saturday.

A funeral service will be held for Jabez at noon Saturday at the Truvine Missionary Baptist Church, 1947 31st St., Sarasota.

Last Saturday, the family was uplifted by a crowd of about couple hundred people who gathered at Fredd Glossie Atkins Park in Sarasota for a candlelight ceremony.

The teen’s mother, Tawana Spann, is ready to move on so she can seek justice for Jabez. Finding his remains and being able to lay him to rest is giving the family closure.

“I would like to thank all the people who have reached out to help,” Spann said on Wednesday afternoon. “This has been the longest week in my entire life.”

But she was grateful for the outpouring of support, she added.

The teen was last seen by his family in 2017 at a Labor Day barbecue. For months, the Spann family, friends, police and volunteers from the community had searched for the teen.

The Sarasota Police Department has not released any new details regrading the investigation into Jabez’s death since announcing his remains had been found.

Jabez may have witnessed the murder of 31-year-old Travis Combs a week before his disappearance, according to court records, but police have refused to confirm there is a connection between the two cases. The teen’s family, however, had said they believe the connection.

Another alleged witness to the murder, Reginald Parker, was charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Parker claimed the men who killed Combs didn’t see him, but that they saw Jabez, who was heard saying, “Oh my God ... Y’all shot him.” But when questioned by detectives, Parker claimed to not know anything.

The case against Parker has since been dropped by the state attorney’s office. Police declined to comment on the case against Parker, the homicide investigation into Comb’s death or any possible connection between the cases.

Anyone with any information about this case can call Sarasota Police Department Detective Megan Buck at 941-954-7067 or Sarasota Crime Stoppers at 941-361-8477, or tips can be submitted at

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Jessica De Leon has been covering crime, courts and law enforcement for the Bradenton Herald since 2013. She has won numerous awards for her coverage including the Florida Press Club’s Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting in 2016 for her coverage into the death of 11-year-old Janiya Thomas.