CRESCENT CITY, Fla. – An intensified search for a missing 20-year-old Putnam County mother turned up human remains Saturday in a heavily wooded area outside Crescent City, investigators said.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has called in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s mobile crime lab to help identify the remains, which were found about 8 a.m. Saturday.
Sheriff’s Office Col. Joe Wells said investigators have not yet been able to determine the sex of the remains or if they belong to an adult. He said the only thing they’re sure of so far is that the remains are human.
“We’re still in the very long, thorough, tedious process of recovering those remains and conducting crime scene investigation in that area,” Wells said. “We certainly don’t know if they’re related to the (missing persons) case or not for sure.”
Wells said detectives can’t say yet how long the remains have been in the woods. They are using 3D scans of the scene, as well as metal detectors to slowly recover the remains and preserve them for autopsy and find any evidence that’s in the area.
He said investigators hope to have the remains identified by early next week.
For now, authorities are still searching for 20-year-old Nyeisha Nelson, whose vehicle was found Thursday abandoned in a wooded area off Old U.S. 17 not far from Crescent City. It was processed for evidence and K9 units searched the area, but there was no sign of her.
“The search is still very active and ongoing,” Wells said. “We are still asking anybody that may have any information about contact with her or her vehicle to reach out to us.”
Wells said the remains were found about 4 to 5 miles northwest of where Nelson’s vehicle was found.
[Watch the full news conference update below:]
Two days after Nelson’s family reported her missing to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the agency first asked the public for help Friday.
RELATED: Putnam County ramps up search for possibly endangered 20-year-old woman
Community members gathered off County Road 308 in Crescent City on Saturday to continue the search for Nelson.
“Met her about three years ago. She was a very good friend of my niece, and I met the baby as well,” Deborah Walker said.
“Just to find her car and not her, to me, if that was my daughter, I’d be going crazy and want to know where she was,” Julie Linderman said.
According to family members, Nelson picked up her 5-year-old daughter on Feb. 10 and the next morning took her child to school. Deputies said a neighbor reported seeing Nelson in the yard of her residence on Ohio Street in Crescent City before leaving in her 2008 gray Honda Accord wearing a white T-shirt, gray shorts and carrying a purse.
Family members said Nelson normally stays in contact several times a day but has not reached out to anyone since Feb. 11.
“If anybody’s seen my baby, can you call please contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office or me,” Nelson’s mother, Chasity Nelson, said at a Friday afternoon news conference. “You can be anonymous. I just want to know where my baby is.”
Wells said Nyeisha Nelson is well-known and was self-employed as a hairdresser. He said there has been an outpouring of support from the community.
The Sheriff’s Office told News4Jax there was no sign of foul play at her home and there has been no activity on her bank card.
“We are covering every possible angle. We are interviewing people as they come to our attention. We are receiving lots of tips and information from the community and working very hard to rapidly follow up on every one of those as soon as they come in,” Wells said.
Wells said it’s not unusual for several days to go by before healthy adults are reported missing. He said detectives and interviewed multiple witnesses and collected multiple pieces of evidence.
Anyone with information as to Nelson’s whereabouts or if they have seen her at any time since Feb. 11 is asked to call 911 or, to remain anonymous, call CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477.