An intensive search Tuesday for a 67-year-old St. Johns County woman missing for nearly a month yielded human remains in northern Flagler County on Tuesday morning, and investigators said they have a person of interest in the case.
Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission made the discovery in northern St. Johns County within one hour of beginning to search of rural area of Flagler Estates for any sign of 67-year-old Barbara Parchem.
Flagler Estates is a remote area that stretches over a 16-square-mile area of southern St. Johns and northern Flagler County.
While it will be up to the Medical Examiner to determine the identity of the remains, St. Johns County Undersheriff Joel Bolante said the manner of the condition of the body indicates it to be a victim of a homicide and clothing on the decomposing remains are similar to what Parchem was wearing when she was last seen on April 5.
"It would be reasonable to believe the remains are of Barbara Parchem," Bolante said.
He also said investigators have a person of interest in the case.
Deputies from the St. Johns County and Flagler County sheriff's offices used ATVs, canine teams and civilian search and rescue teams in the search for Barbara Parchem, who was reported missing April 6 when she didn't show up for a shift at a Village Inn restaurant where she had worked for 20 years.
Tuesday's search began about 7:30 a.m. at East Deep Creek Boulevard and Jonathon Street, a rural area in Flagler Estates, as based on a tip developed by the FBI.
"We have some evidence and information that was analyzed, and we received the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation out of Jacksonville, and based upon their analysis, they indicated that this 16-square-mile area is an area that we should engage in a search," Bolante said.
Co-workers at the Village Inn in St. Augustine want to know who would harm the woman.
"There is no answer that this person could give that's going to be good enough that could justify what they did, manager Edward Pierce said.
"We joked, we had fun. She was not here for 20 plus years for no reason. We always said the building was built around her," General Manager Matt Gleason told Channel 4.
Parchem's family reported her missing when she didn't show up for work on April 6. At first, deputies did not suspect foul play, but that changed Friday, when Sheriff David Shoar held a news conference about the case.
Anyone who has information that could help the investigation is asked to call Detective Jeremy Russell of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office at 904-209-2193 or Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS (8477).