Courtesy: Sarasota Police Department
SARASOTA, Fla. - The family members of a Sarasota teenager who's been missing since Labor Day joined police Tuesday to make a desperate plea to the community for answers.
Jabez Spann, 14, disappeared on Labor Day and was last seen at the home of his grandmother, Lucille Tillery, in the Newtown area of Sarasota.
More than three weeks later detectives are struggling to find clues and leads have been scarce.
"There has to be somebody that knows something," said Tawana Spann, Jabez's mother, during a news conference. "This is a human being that we're talking about. Being afraid has to go out the window at this point. We might be the only people that can actually help him, wherever he is."
Tillery broke down in tears as she spoke about her grandson's disappearance.
"That's my baby. All I'm asking is for somebody, please, please help us. It hurts," she said. "Just give him back to us. We just want him back. This could be anybody's child. We want him back home. And I'm begging, please bring him back home."
Jabez hasn't posted anything on social media since he disappeared and efforts to track his cell phone haven't worked.
A frustrated Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette Dipino said officers don't know yet if he's a runaway or worse.
"Our hope, my hope, is that he's just run away and that he's scared to come home," the chief said.
"Something could have happened to him, whether he was kidnapped or something worse, we just don't have anything leading us in that direction right now."
There has been speculation in the Newtown community that Jabez may have witnessed a violent crime. Chief Dipino, however, said she's heard that rumor too but detectives have not received any credible tips that would validate it.
Anyone with information is urged to call 911 or the agency at 941-954-7067.