Police: Body found in shallow grave behind industrial park

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office are investigating after human remains were found Sunday in a shallow grave behind a business on St. Johns Industrial Parkway.

JSO Sgt. Dan Janson said around noon Sunday, JSO received a tip that there might be a shallow grave behind a business at 11228 St. Johns Industrial Parkway. Detectives and major case evidence technicians responded to the area to explore and quickly determined a grave did exist, Janson said.

"We've been working the past 24 hours at the site, trying to excavate what we have there, and we have come across some human remains," Janson said. "It's a work in progress."

Janson said there is one body, which appears to be a man, but there is some decomposition and an identity will have to be determined by the medical examiner. The grave was in a small space between a wood line and the back of the business, Janson said.

"We have human remains not in a cemetery, so I'm going to go with probably foul play," Janson said.

He said detectives could remain on site another 24 hours to be sure they don't miss any pertinent evidence in or around the grave. JSO said officers are combing through missing persons reports as part of the investigation.

News4Jax spoke to people in the area about the discovery of the remains and many said they are shaken up.

In the time Fatima Tulamali has worked at Ameritape on St. Johns Industrial Parkway, she said never once has she feared for her safety -- until Monday.

"This is the first time anything like this has happened since I've been working here, so that's about three or four years," Tulamali said. "I got a text from my boss this morning at work. Before work, he told us that we needed to park across the street because there was a murder investigation going on at the building next door."

News4Jax crime and safety analyst and former Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Gil Smith said it's not uncommon for officers to search a grave for so many hours. Officials are searching for anything to help police identify the victim. Once that happens, investigators will turn their attention to who that victim was.

"Once they identify the person, (we will) check social media and see if he was making any comments about problems he was having, to see if he was having any distress, if he was running from someone," said Smith.

Police are asking for more tips from the public and neighbors said they hope there are answers sooner than later.

"I hope they figure out who it is and they figure out what happened, who did it, and (that) they take precautions so it doesn't happen again," Tulamali said.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious at the address or in the area is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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