‘Patience’ key as family awaits justice

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Today marks one year since Eric Humbert’s disappearance, death

By Jeff Bryan

Patience is a virtue, and if so then Maurice Jones’ family might have the patent on it.

It was one year ago today that Jones’ brother, Eric Danzell Humbert, went missing. Ten days later, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Field Force members discovered what would eventually be identified as Humbert’s body in a wooded area north of the intersection of SW 162nd Terrace and SW 36th Street.

Jones and his family are seeking not just closure, but answers surrounding his death.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year, it feels like it happened three days ago,” Jones said. “I’ve thought to myself, ‘Let me call him, let me see where he’s at.’

“The craziest part is the last time I saw him was the day before school started last year. He was at my house, eating dinner with my kids, took them shopping. Then he got murdered.”

So school is underway and the flood of memories crash down on Jones.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been a year at all. It’s been very stressful,” he explained.

And while the past year has felt like an eternity for answers about who did it and why, Jones offered nothing but praise for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

“They said up front it was going to be drawn out,” he explained. “They’ve been on it. They have a direction; they’re tying up loose ends. I feel like an arrest should come soon, you can never have too much evidence.”

Agreed, said Detective Larry McArdle, the lead investigator for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

“We have a lot of circumstantial evidence,” he added. “But we don’t have a smoking gun.”

Because of a lack of a witness, or witnesses, the abundance of evidence becomes that much more important, McArdle said, noting the importance of making sure all of its evidence is linked correctly. “If we don’t’ get it right, then we can’t go back and charge the same person a second time,” he added.

But once it is all tied together, Jones said, everyone will know who did it and why. That also means a trial will drudge up how Humbert’s disappearance and subsequent death will be brought to light.

“”We will have to re-live that through court,” Jones pointed out. “What they did, all of that will come up. There is no real way to get prepared, but we have to try to get prepared as best we can.”

Jones doesn’t deny his frustration at times, but with his family and community looking to him for guidance and leadership, he understands the importance of letting law enforcement officials do their job. Jones has stressed to his children, especially his sons, Kobe and Jayden, to take out their frustration in training.

“Like I told my kids, my brothers, family and friends, as bad as we want to do something to the people, we just have to wait for the investigation to play out,” he said. “I told my kids, when you’re in the weight room, do 10 more for your uncle.”

Key is turning the anger into a positive, Jones said.

“That’s the way we’re coming at it,” he explained. “It’s definitely hard. You wake up, you want to punish someone or yourself, but you can’t. We try to use it as positive as we can. That makes us feel good.”

Jones credits T.J. Watts, a former detective with the sheriff’s office, for helping spur the investigation.

“This investigation would have never happened if it wasn’t for T.J.,” Jones said. “When my brother first went missing, he’s the one who made the call and told them this wasn’t an average missing person case.

“That’s when they really picked it up. We might not be where we’re at today with this investigation. We have to thank T.J. a lot; we cannot thank him enough. We cannot thank the detectives, the agency, they put this one on the front to get this one solved.

“We understand, we’ll never get them back, but we’ll at least get some justice for it.”

The family continues to offer a $5,000 award for information about Humbert’s death.