In a tight-knit Sarasota, Florida, neighborhood where everybody seems to know everything about each other, there are few details known about the disappearance of Jabez Spann, a well-liked athlete and rising football star.
“He played any position you needed him to play,” recalls the boy’s mother, Tawana Spann. “He always carried a football with him.”
On Sept. 4, 2017, police say Jabez was spotted near a street corner memorial for a young man who was killed a week earlier. No one saw Jabez again. His mother believes her son may have known too much.
“I think they hushed him,” she says. “I just don’t even know how this is happening.”
Each year, hundreds of families unknowingly experience similar moments – the last time they see a loved before they disappear. Last year, the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children reported approximately 325 cases of children taken by a stranger.
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Last year, she asked friends and neighbors about Jabez’s disappearance and learned he reportedly witnessed the homicide. Sarasota police officials say it’s a rumor they haven’t been able to confirm.
“Somebody saw something and knows something,” says Megan Buck, detective for the Sarasota Police. “It’s so sad and no one is helping. His friends aren’t talking. Nobody’s talking.”
There is a $50,000 reward for any information, Buck says. She chases down every lead and is willing to meet anyone with information, even if it’s away from the police station.
Buck has worked at the police department for 13 years and says she won’t give up searching for Jabez.
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“I would not want someone to stop if it were my kid,” she says.
While looking for her son, Tawana has started advocating for missing children and teaching parents how to keep their children safe. She doesn’t want another person to experience the pain she suffers.
“You don’t want someone to feel that pain. It’s a pain that never subsides,” Tawana says. “And then you try to go on with your life, but you’re still feeling the pain because someone took your baby.”
If you have any information on this case, please call Sarasota Police at 941-316-1201.