Family sues Jacksonville man charged in niece’s disappearance

Johnathan Quiles, 35, is accused of murdering his niece, 16-year-old Iyana Sawyer

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Johnathan Quiles and family photo of Iyana Sawyer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of Iyana Sawyer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her uncle, who’s charged in her murder and disappearance, News4Jax has learned.

Sawyer, 16, was last seen leaving Terry Parker High School in December 2018. She was later reported missing, but her remains have not yet been found, despite an extensive search of a local landfill.

Quiles, 35, was indicted in July 2019 on a first-degree murder charge after the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said police obtained an admission, through another inmate, that Quiles shot his niece.

Quiles also is charged with sexually assaulting Sawyer, who was five months pregnant.

The Sheriff’s Office searched the Otis Road landfill for weeks in the wake of Sawyer’s disappearance, but her body was not recovered during the search.

Sawyer’s family’s lawsuit, which was filed in December, claims that Quiles shot the teen and then placed her body in a dumpster at his place of work, a Jacksonville auto salvage lot.

Quiles’ former employer and the salvage lot’s owner were named as co-defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges that they were responsible for spoiled, missing or destroyed evidence.

The lawsuit is seeking more than $30,000.

Prosecutors have informed Quiles that they intend to seek the death penalty if he’s convicted. Lawyers for Quiles, meanwhile, have filed a flurry of motions to block the death penalty.

A hearing on those motions is scheduled for May, though no trial date has been set.