Bones found last year confirmed to be missing pregnant woman

Man last seen with Hannah Zehner Brim charged with murder in her death

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Human bones found last September in a swampy area northeast of Orange Heights have been confirmed to be those of a missing pregnant woman who disappeared in January 2016, the Gainesville Police Department announced Friday.

Hannah Zehner Brim, 23, was five months pregnant when she disappeared on Jan. 19, 2016, police said.

When the remains were found, investigators initially believed they were Brim's, but DNA testing did not confirm that until recently. The University of North Texas Center for Human Identification used DNA from Brim's son and mother to compare to DNA from the remains to verify they were Brim.

Nelson Armas, 28, who was with Brim when she was last seen, was indicted weeks before the remains were found on charges of first-degree murder, auto theft and tampering with evidence. He remains in the Alachua County Jail without bond.

Brim was reported missing after her family hadn't seen her for four days.

Several searches involving multiple agencies over eight months failed to find Brim's body until investigators got additional information about new search areas after Armas was indicted.

Search teams composed of members of the Gainesville Police Department SWAT team, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the medical examiner and the University of Florida C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory searched different areas based on the information.

"It touches not only the family, but all of the rescuers that were involved in searching for Ms. Brim and investigating this case," said Sheriff's Office Lt. Brandon Kutner when the remains were found.

Members of the Sheriff's Office dive team reported finding multiple human bones, and investigators believed that the bones were Brim's.

"Once word reached the command post that Brim had been located, officers and searchers stopped to offer prayer and thanks for the discovery," GPD Public Information Officer Ben Tobias said.

Brim's mother, father and other relatives embraced each other as officials announced the discovery during a news conference Friday afternoon at the Police Department.

"I think that the family standing beside me is a tribute enough to the kind of person that she was," Tobias said. "Pictures never tell enough of a story of who a person was, but the family being here and the law enforcement officers in this room just really shed light on what type of person she was."

Kutner said it was an outcome that no one wanted and a sad end to a long part of the investigation.

Armas has a history of domestic violence, and after Brim's disappearance, he was in the Alachua County Jail on a domestic battery charge unrelated to the disappearance.

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