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Remains found of Florida teen who may have witnessed 2017 slaying

Jabez Spann, 14, was last seen at a vigil for the victim, Travis Combs, authorities said.

The skeletal remains of a Florida teenager who vanished after possibly witnessing a slaying that happened a year and a half ago were found over the weekend in a rural part of Manatee County, police said.

Jabez Spann was 14 when he went missing from Sarasota on Sept. 4, 2017. An FBI missing person poster said the teenager may have been the witness to a crime and was last seen at a vigil for the victim.

His disappearance was reported to authorities the following day, according to Sarasota police.

In a November 2017 press release by the Sarasota Police Department, detectives said they were looking into whether Spann's disappearance was connected to the August 2017 death of Travis Combs.

When asked Tuesday about the possible connection between the deaths of Spann and Combs, Sarasota deputy chief Pat Robinson said he was "not going to speculate."

Dental records confirmed the remains found by a worker Saturday in Manatee County, which is about 23 miles north of Sarasota, belong to Spann, Robinson said at a news conference.

“It’s unknown how long those skeletal remains were at the location or if they were transported there from somewhere else,” he said.

The teenager's mother, Tawana Spann, told NBC News in a phone interview Wednesday that she was overwhelmed by the latest development in the case.

"This has been a straight roller coaster," she said. "I close the chapter of him being missing, and open the chapter of him being murdered.”

Police declined to say where in Manatee County the remains were found, and are investigating if Spann died from natural causes or was killed. So far, no arrests have been made.

Robinson said he believes someone in the community has information on what happened to the teen.

“We know that people in our community know things that they haven’t shared yet. Look inside yourself; we want to bring this family justice. We want to bring this family peace,” he said.

"We’ll be going back and basically starting from the beginning scouring our case files to ensure every lead, every tip was followed up on, everything was handled a 100 percent. We are going to run this thing to the end," Robinson said.

Sarasota police declined to comment to NBC News on the status of the investigation into Combs' slaying.