SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (TCD) — Officials are searching for answers about a couple after investigators positively identified a woman who was found dead in a shallow grave over 15 years ago.
According to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, on Feb. 6, 2007, authorities discovered a woman’s skeletal remains in a wooded area near Ashton Court, but her identity remained unknown, and the case went cold. More than a decade after the discovery, in November 2022, the Sheriff’s Office began working with DNA Labs International Inc. and used genetic genealogy and DNA testing to help identify the victim.
In an Aug. 2 news release, the Sheriff’s Office identified the victim as 39-year-old Jeana Lynn Burrus. She reportedly lived on the 6200 block of Pauline Avenue in Sarasota with her husband, James Burrus, and son James Burrus Jr. James Burrus worked at a local auto shop and her son was in elementary school around the time she died.
Her family, however, never reported her missing, which the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said “complicated” the investigation.
According to WVTV-TV, investigators were ultimately able to identify Jeana Lynn Burrus once they removed calcium from the bones.
Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Mark Lefebvre told WWTV, “The bones indicate it was not a natural cause of death.”
Jeana Lynn Burrus and James Burrus were reportedly “struggling” around the time she died, and they had a “very volatile relationship.”
The remains were allegedly discovered near the body shop where James Burrus worked.
Burrus allegedly created stories about his wife’s whereabouts.
Lefebvre told WVTV, “He had different versions, honestly, of what happened to their relationship, but when he sat with detectives he provided no details. He gave no information.”
Investigators reportedly searched the body shop where Burrus worked this year but didn’t find any significant evidence. The Sheriff’s Office said the couple lived in Citrus County, Florida, as well as Frederick, Maryland, before moving to Sarasota County.
Detectives have asked anyone familiar with the victim or her husband to contact the Sheriff’s Office.
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