Police investigate Westside death, body identified

Body of Shaquita Anne Smith found in Westside ditch

By News4Jax.com Staff , Ashley Harding - Reporter , Chris Robbins - Producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Homicide detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office continue to investigate a suspicious death on the Westside.

The Sheriff's Office was called to the 7400 block of Ricker Road just before 6 p.m. Friday. Police told Channel 4 that a woman's body was found in a ditch by the road.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office closed Ricker Road for hours Friday night while they investigated. 

"She is submerged. We are going to block the ditch off and drain the ditch to get any possible evidence," said JSO Sgt. Jay Farhat.  

On Saturday, police said the body is that of Shaquita Anne Smith, 29. Police also believe her body was in the ditch for a few days before she was found. 

Reginald Dillon, Smith's heartbroken uncle, fought back tears as he described the violent death of his niece.

"When I close my eyes I think about how she was submerged in the water in that ditch. Just submerged in that ditch."

"She really didn't deserve this. The family is blown to pieces about this."

Family members said Smith was reported missing after she failed to return home from a late walk. They described her as a kind, humble young woman, the kind of person who could make friends with anyone. They said her life revolved around her two little girls.

"What are you going to tell these kids? How do you tell a kid that mommy is not coming home? How do you tell a kid that? Mommy's gone," Dillon said.  

Neighbors in the area told Channel 4 that they saw birds around the area and suspected something may have been dead near the ditch. 

"There was like six or seven vultures, and we were like dear, Lord Jesus, what if there's a body somewhere because they kept going over. And we didn't stop, we kept going. Now this may be the body," said Pennie Keene.

Channel 4's Scott Johnson asked Sgt. Farhat Friday if the body was connected to any missing person cases in the area.  

"There's a possible missing person we're looking at we've not been able to confirm, but it is a possibility," said Farhat. 

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