St. Petersburg police searching Alabama for body of pregnant teen who vanished 10 years ago

Police are searching for the body of a pregnant teenager who disappeared 10 years ago, based on information from the man who pleaded guilty to a murder charge in connection to her death.

Jacobee Flowers, 34, pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in the death of 17-year-old Morgan Martin on March 31 — nearly 10 years after Martin’s disappearance. The teen’s body has never been found. As part of Flowers’ plea deal, if detectives find Martin’s body, he will serve 25 years in prison. If they do not, he’ll spend 40 years in prison, according to court documents.

On July 25, 2012, Martin left her St. Petersburg home after midnight to meet up with Flowers, who she said was the father of her unborn child, according to police. She never returned.

St. Petersburg detectives have been searching for Martin’s remains in a field in Pike County, Alabama, Yolanda Fernandez, a spokesperson for the St. Petersburg Police Department said Friday. St. Petersburg detectives began their search Monday, and returned home Friday without finding Martin’s body.

Alabama authorities now will take over the search, Fernandez said, adding that she is unsure whether St. Petersburg detectives will return to Alabama to continue the search.

Flowers was indicted in Martin’s death in 2016, after years of saying he was not involved in Martin’s disappearance and that he was not the father of her unborn baby.

Flowers, who was 24 years old at the time, had pleaded with Martin not to have the child, according to the indictment. He worried he would face criminal charges because Martin was a minor. Flowers also worried it would ruin another romantic relationship of his.

Cellphone data and surveillance footage allowed detectives to track Flowers’ movements the night of Martin’s disappearance, according to the indictment.

Fernandez says the reality is that the case is 10 years old, and finding Martin’s body is far from a certainty. However, she said, the department is committed to bringing closure to Martin’s family. The case has passed on from detective to detective — someone would retire, and the case would be passed on to the next person, Fernandez said.

“St. Petersburg police has not forgotten this homicide victim,” Fernandez said. “It’s really important to bring her home to her mom.”

Times staff writer Natalie Weber contributed to this report.

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