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Florida Man Who Pleaded Guilty To Pregnant Teen's 2012 Murder Sends Authorities To Alabama To Find Body
It's been 10 years since 17-year-old Morgan Martin left her St. Petersburg home to meet the Jacobee Flowers, the alleged father of her unborn child. She was never seen again.
The search for a pregnant teen who disappeared from Florida 10 years ago yielded no results after the man responsible provided information to authorities about the potential whereabouts of her remains.
Jacobee Flowers, 34, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the 2012 disappearance of Morgan Martin, 17, who police say was the mother of his unborn child, according to the Tampa Bay Times. As part of his April 1 plea deal agreement with prosecutors, Flowers’ sentence hinged on whether or not he could point authorities to Martin’s body, CBS affiliate WTSP reported.
If Flowers' information led investigators to Martin’s body, he would serve 25 years in prison. Otherwise, he’ll be sentenced to 40 years, according to court documents obtained by the Times.
Flowers reportedly provided details about Martin’s possible whereabouts, sending investigators to Pike County, Alabama, according to the Times. Despite the help of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, a five-day search – some 450 miles away from where Martin vanished – got them no closer to finding the teen’s body, according to AL.com.
Morgan Martin disappeared from St. Petersburg shortly after midnight on March 25, 2012, after she told her family she was leaving to meet Flowers, who was then 24, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department. Martin’s mother reported her missing the next day.
Authorities narrowed in on Flowers, who initially claimed not to know anything about Martin’s disappearance and denied he was the father of her child.
“Investigators sought out any other potential persons who might be connected to Morgan’s disappearance,” said police. “Everything continued to point toward Flowers as the only person of interest.”
The investigation gained traction with the St. Petersburg police’s newly formed Cold Case Unit in 2015. Authorities accumulated new witness statements and evidence that led to a total of nine search warrants and 10 court orders in the subsequent 13 months of the reexamination.
In 2016, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway announced a first-degree murder indictment for Flowers, who he said “planned Morgan’s murder and disposed of her body.”
According to the Times, Flowers feared facing criminal charges for impregnating a minor and feared the impact a child could have on their relationship. The indictment showed that Flowers, who had two children with another woman, allegedly pleaded with Martin not to have their unborn daughter.
Investigators were able to track Flowers’ movements using cell phone tower data, according to the Times. Records put Flowers close to Martin’s house before heading to his 53rd Avenue home around the time Martin disappeared. At around 1:30 a.m., Flowers then went to KFC, where he was an employee, when the fast-food restaurant closed.
The following morning, a KFC employee found someone had set fire to a walk-in cooler and cleaned it with a hose. Investigators examined surveillance footage showing smoke in the building at around 2:33 a.m.
Flowers was captured on the restaurant’s surveillance camera at 2:49 a.m.
Data showed Flowers went to visit the mother of his other two children at 3:30 a.m. before returning to the area where the KFC is located. Flowers then drove to Pasco County and over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, returning to St. Petersburg the following day.
It was unclear what information Flowers provided earlier this month to prompt detectives to travel to Pike County, Alabama, in search of Morgan Martin’s body.
“St. Petersburg police has not forgotten this homicide victim,” St. Petersburg Police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez told the Times. “It’s really important to bring her home to her mom."
Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department said the search was suspended on Friday, according to AL.com. Workers used a cadaver dog and an excavator when digging four feet into the ground on the northbound side of U.S. 231, south of Brundidge near the Coffee County line.
Johnson told reporters they’re looking into possibly bringing Flowers to Alabama to help them pinpoint an exact spot sometime next week.
Flowers is expected to be sentenced on April 28.
Requests to the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Pike County Sheriff’s Department were not immediately returned.