MIDDLEBURG, Fla. March 26 2008 — Clay County authorities confirm that the body found in some Middleburg woods on Thursday afternoon is that of 23-year-old Jacey McWilliams, who was reported missing on March 11.
They also said an acquaintance of hers with a lengthy criminal history who is being held in Pinellas County on unrelated charges is considered a person of interest in McWilliams’ slaying.
The body was found off Jones Cemetery Road about 4:30 p.m. after three days of searching by Clay and Jacksonville sheriff’s deputies, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler identified David James Martin, 21 — a registered felon who has been arrested nine times in Clay County within three years — as a person of interest in the case.
Investigators said Martin was with McWilliams the last time she spoke with her mother and was believed to have been with her in the days after she was reported missing.
“Jacey McWilliams was last known to be with (David) James Martin in Clay County. Several days after she was reported missing, her vehicle was located in Tampa,” said Clay County Sheriff’s Office Detective Kenny West.
Deputies said Martin had been sleeping in McWilliams’ car. They said it did not take them long to realize that Martin is the man named David who McWilliams’ mother described when she filed a missing persons report.
Martin is charged with shoplifting in Pinellas County and is also being held for violation of probation.
Clay County detectives have traveled to Pinellas County to interview Martin and said they plan to interview him again.
“I could never see him doing something like that,” said Cayla Lehmann, a friend of Martin’s fiancé.
She said her friend lives in Pinellas County, and said that’s why Martin was there. She also said the car Martin had with him had made her friend suspicious.
“She was suspicious because Jacey’s phone was in the car — Jacey’s clothes were in the car. A bunch of her stuff was in the car. Her credit cards were in the car,” said Lehmann. “She asked him why the phone and clothes were in there, and the only thing he said was that he was planning on bringing the car back soon.”
Deputies said Martin and McWilliams had only known each for about six weeks.
An autopsy was being conducted Friday to determine the exact cause of McWilliams’ death.
McWilliams’ co-workers at Caruso Dodge in Regency said they were stunned that she was killed.
“Everybody loved her. She was a happy-go-lucky person who was always in a good mood. It’s very sad.
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