Search expands for pregnant woman's body

23-year-old last seen with man now jailed on domestic battery charge

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ALACHUA COUNTY, FLa. – The Gainesville home of a man considered a person of interest in the disappearance of a 23-year-old pregnant woman was searched again Tuesday, as members of more than a dozen agencies continued their efforts to find her body.

About 125 law enforcement personnel were out Tuesday combing a search grid that spanned approximately five-square miles in the Orange Heights area near U.S. 301 and State Road 26 in Alachua County. They were looking for the body of Hanna Brim, who was last seen on Jan. 19 riding in a vehicle driven by Nelson Armas, 28.

Brim was reported missing by her family four days later. She was five months pregnant.

Forensic evidence has led Gainesville police to believe that Brim is no longer alive.

Electronic forensic information also led to the expansion of the search area Tuesday to includes areas of the northwest portion of Alachua County. Many parts of the search area are swampy, and officers have been using horses and four-wheelers to get around the area.

“There are over 125 individuals out here from law enforcement today, and each one of them has one goal in mind and that's bringing the person responsible for what happened to Miss Brim to justice and bringing peace and closure to the Brim family, and hopefully we can do that,” said Sgt. Brandon Kutner, of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said that while they haven’t found Brim’s body, they have found other evidence that will prove helpful in the investigation.

But the goal for every officer remains to bring Brim back home.

“It's important not just for justice but also for Miss Brim's family, as well,” Kutner said.

As the search continued, deputies from the Alachua County Sheriff's Office served another search warrant at Armas' home.

“There is more information that we have obtained over the course of talking to Mr. Armas’ family members and Miss Brim's family members, as well,” Kutner said. “Items that may not have been included on the initial search warrant, and so we wanted to have another opportunity to take a look at that property.”

Armas has a history of domestic battery and is currently in the Alachua County Jail on a domestic battery charge unrelated to Brim's disappearance. On Thursday, police said Armas is considered a person of interest in her disappearance and likely death.

Police said physical and electronic evidence gathered during a search of Armas' home last Monday led them to the 75-100 acres near Orange Heights where they were searching last Thursday. 

Gainesville police, the Alachua County, Clay County, Jacksonville, Union County, Brevard County, Marion County, and Palm Beach County sheriff's offices, Miami-Dade police, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Corrections, Alachua County Emergency Operations Center and the Medical Examiner’s Office are among those involved in Tuesday's search. Cadaver dogs were among the resources being used.

During an initial interview, police said Armas seemed to be cooperating, but he denied knowing where Brim might be.

“Mr. Armas is the last person confirmed to be in the company of Ms. Brim prior to her being reported missing,” Kutner said.

Anyone with information about Brim is asked to call GPD Detective Tom Mullins at 352-393-7619.  You can also text keyword GPDFL plus your tip to 274637 to provide anonymous information.