Deputies: Human remains found near Georgia police academy may be those of Florence Co. homicide victim

Pee Dee

ATLANTA, GA (WBTW) – Deputies say human remains found in Georgia are possibly those of a Florence County homicide victim.

“Investigators with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, working in conjunction with the Atlanta Police Department have located human remains possibly related to a homicide which allegedly occurred in Florence County in April of this year,” a press release from the FCSO said. “Since the incident occurred, FCSO Investigators have made several trips to the Atlanta area to search for the remains of Tara Echavarria.”

Earlier in the week, “based on recently obtained information,” investigators and the FCSO Forensic Unit went to back to Atlanta “where human remains were discovered near the Atlanta Police Academy.”

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Center is conducting a forensic exam and is working with the FCSO to identify the remains.

“Our Investigators have done an excellent job of handling this sad and difficult case,” Sheriff William C. Barnes said. “We look forward to obtaining the results of the forensic examination soon, which will hopefully allow the family of Ms. Echavarria to obtain some degree of closure.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Atlanta police spokesperson Officer TaSheena Brown said her department assisted the FCSO with a homicide investigation.

“We assisted them with locating and collecting human remains found on property behind 180 Southside Industrial Parkway,”  Officer Brown told the newspaper. She also referred other questions about the case to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Atlanta Police Department’s website, the Atlanta Police Training Academy is located at 180 Southside Industrial Parkway.

News13 previously reported that three people were arrested in connection to the murder of Echevarria, of California.

According to a press release from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office, the following people were arrested in the case:

  • Cecelia Elaine Knox, 31, of McKeithan Road in Florence
  • Jana Lynn Knox, 39, of McKeithan Road in Florence
  • Jimmy Lee Knox, 37, of Morrow Road in Forest Park, Georgia
Cecelia Elaine Knox (left), Jana Lynn Knox (middle), Jimmy Lee Knox (right). Photos: Florence County Detention Center.

Cecelia Knox was arrested by investigators with the FCSO on April 30 and is charged with murder, the release said. Jana Knox was arrested by FCSO investigators on May 1 and is charged with accessory after the act of murder and obstruction of justice. Jimmy Knox was arrested by FCSO investigators on May 5 and charged with accessory after the fact of murder.

Investigators allege that Cecelia Knox killed Echevarria “on or about April 21, 2019.” Echevarria was reportedly staying at the home of Cecelia Knox and Jana Knox on McKeithan Road.

Investigators also allege that Jana Knox “had knowledge of the murder having been committed and assisted Cecelia Knox in disposing of the victim’s body and vehicle.”

According to the release, Jimmy Knox is the brother of Cecelia Knox and Jana Knox.

Jimmy Knox is alleged to have helped Cecelia Knox and Jana Knox in disposing of the victim’s body. He was taken into custody outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He was transported to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. A magistrate gave Jimmy Lee Knox a $250,000 surety bond.

Bond has been denied for Cecelia Knox and Jana Knox.

All three suspects are being held at the Florence County Detention Center as of August 21 pending trial, according to the FCSO.

In May, News13’s Briana Fernandez spoke to the daughters of the victim, who said they are in shock and disbelief that their mother was making a quick stop to help a friend and that was the last time they heard from her. 

Tearany Cullens and her sisters told News13 their mom was driving from California and was supposed to go to Jacksonville, Florida, for one of her daughter’s proms. 

Plans quickly changed, when their mom made a stop to visit Cecelia’s wife, Jana Knox, who was in the hospital in Florence. 

The daughters said they talked to their mom on Easter Sunday for the last time. 

“She spoke to my aunt on the phone and she was in good spirits. Then we didn’t hear from her anymore and we were calling her. We’re all in a group text and at one point we were texting each other asking, have you heard from mom. We didn’t hear from her,” said daughter, Tearany Cullens. 

A week later, the daughters received unexpected news. 

“We’re just praying they’re able to find her body, so we can bring her back home and put her to rest. Our mother came here to help Jana and care for Jana’s life but Jana didn’t care about my mother’s life ” said Cullens. 

Count on News13 for updates.

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