JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A missing pregnant Jacksonville teenager was shot to death in December by her uncle, who is believed to be the father of her baby, according to Duval County Court records.
Johnathan Quiles has been in jail since January on a felony sexual battery charge related to a different victim, who is also a relative.
Quiles, 34, was indicted last week on murder charges in the death of Iyana Sawyer and her unborn child. He was also indicted on a sexual battery charge.
According to the indictment, which was released Monday, Quiles shot Sawyer either Dec. 19 or Dec. 20.
The 16-year-old was last seen Dec. 19, leaving Terry Parker High School. She never made it home.
Despite weeks of searching a landfill in the Baldwin area, her body has not been found, but prosecutors had enough evidence to convince a grand jury that Quiles fatally shot Sawyer, who was five months pregnant at the time.
“Even though there’s no physical body that’s been recovered, the state still can pursue the death penalty in this case. They obviously have some compelling evidence to link him to this missing person," News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said after prosecutors announced Quiles' indictment.
During a bond hearing earlier this year on his other sexual battery charge, prosecutors disclosed suspicions of Quiles' possible involvement in Sawyer's disappearance, accusing him of admitting to a fellow inmate that he may have impregnated Sawyer.
Interrogation video released in April shows a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detective telling Quiles that his brother told them Quiles admitted to choking Sawyer. The detective said Quiles' brother told them, "She wasn't dying right and it was making Quiles sick looking at her."
Detective: The question for you, Johnathan: Are you a monster? Are you?
Quiles: I’m not a monster. Not at all.
Detective: Look at her face. They need closure.
Quiles: I ain’t gonna look at her face. I’m not a monster. I had nothing to do with her disappearance.
Attorney John Phillips -- who represents Sawyer's mother, Kimberly Mobley, and the Mobley-Sawyer family -- released a statement Monday after the details of the indictment were released:
"The Indictment and True Bill by the Grand Jury were apparently uploaded to Core this morning and we’ve had requests for comment. As we said last week, Johnathan Quiles was indicted for the murder of Iyana Sawyer and her unborn child. We understand the media has questions about the Indictment, including it mentioning a firearm. However, we do not have further comment at this time.
We are cooperating with the State Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office and appreciate their dedicated service. Justice starts with the criminal prosecution and conviction of Iyana’s killer. This is one of the greatest tragedies I have ever worked on and the truth will be told in a courtroom. It could very well lead to the death penalty for the person who did this. Preserving full and fair justice is the priority.
The family has no further comment at this time.
Ms. Mobley continues to ask for prayer, peace and privacy."
Quiles, who is being held without bond, is scheduled to appear in court again next month.