ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. - A 28-year-old man was indicted on a first-degree murder charge Wednesday in the death of a woman who disappeared from Gainesville in January and has never been found.
Hannah Brim, 23, was last seen on Jan. 19 riding in a vehicle driven by Nelson Armas. She was reported missing by her family four days later. She was 5 months pregnant.
A grand jury indicted Armas Wednesday for Brim's murder and also for grand theft auto and tampering with physical evidence.
Jacksonville attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters said evidence will be a key issue in the case.
"And the issue that prosecutors are going to have to deal with is proving murder when there is no body," said Peoples-Waters, who is not involved in the case.
Armas had a history of domestic battery and was in the Alachua County Jail on a domestic battery charge unrelated to Brim's disappearance when the indictment was handed down. He was ordered held without bond on the murder charge.
"He's been in jail on other charges, so this has allowed the detectives and the state to gather additional evidence. I'm sure that they have done DNA testing of the blood evidence that was retrieved from the vehicle and it's very likely that the blood evidence matches the victim," Peoples-Waters said.
Brim's remains have still not been recovered, despite county-wide searches, police said.
150 officers search woods for pregnant woman's body
Law enforcement officers from nine agencies searched a wooded area near U.S. 301 and State Road 26 in Alachua County in February after forensic evidence led Gainesville police to believe that Brim is no longer alive.
At the time, police said Armas was considered a person of interest in her disappearance and likely death.
Police said physical and electronic evidence gathered during a search of Armas' home led them to the 75-100 acres near Orange Heights where they were searching.
Gainesville police, the Alachua County, Clay County, Jacksonville, Union, Marion, and Broward County sheriff's offices, Miami-Dade police, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Corrections were among those involved in the search. K-9 and 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.
“He indicated that she got out of the vehicle at some point in Alachua County," GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said. "We did a thorough search of that area and we did not find evidence of her being there."
Brim's father gave Gainesville authorities a handwritten note saying the family did not want to speak to the media, but wanted to thank the men and women involved in the investigation and recovery efforts.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call GPD Detective Tom Mullins at 352-393-7619 or CrimeStoppers at 352-372-STOP or text keyword GPDFL plus a tip to 274637 to provide anonymous information.
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