HEFLIN, Ala. (WBRC) – An East Alabama family is closer to answers about their missing loved one following an announcement from Heflin Police that a man’s remains have been identified and the case is now a homicide.
Heflin Police announced Wednesday that remains found in 1997 belong to Hoover Jerome Morris, who was reported missing in 1991. He was 18 years old when he disappeared.
Jerome’s younger sister, Nichole Young Street, says it’s a day she will never forget.
“It was November 22nd, but Thanksgiving was coming up later that week and so we was helping mom cook,” she remembered. Nichole was in the kitchen with her brother the last time she saw him.
She says a red car pulled up outside their home and Jerome went outside to talk to those in the vehicle.
“I stood in there in front of the freezer in front of the window in the kitchen and I continued to look out,” said Nichole. “I was trying to read lips and trying to see what was being said.” While she couldn’t understand what was being discussed, she remembers seeing the motions of their hands.
“He come back in the house and he told my mom, he said Mama, I’ll be back.” Jerome left in that same car and was never seen again by his family.
Six years later, Heflin Police say remains were found.
“The land owner on County Road 533 was preparing some property for a new home to be built and he discovered what he believed to be human remains,” said Captain Scott Bonner. Investigators said they attempted DNA testing, but the remains were greatly deteriorated.
Nearly 25 years passed with no identification until this past Friday, all thanks to advancements in DNA technology. The remains were shipped to a private lab in Canada, and a genealogist from the Mobile Co. Sheriff’s Office helped.
“I know it comes as bittersweet news to them, but now we can actually work this as a homicide instead of a missing person,” said Capt. Bonner.
Nichole says she never expected to get the news within her lifetime. She says even though the search for him is over, nothing will be able to take away the incredible memories they made while they were young.
“He would like pick me up and start bench pressing me or tell me to get on his back and run with me,” she remembered. Nichole said Jerome was hilarious and would do anything to make his family and friends laugh.
Nichole says he was a football star and many colleges were looking at him for recruitment. She believes he could’ve gone on to play in the NFL.
Now, Nichole says the family is working to pick up the pieces and remember Jerome for who he was. “I know that he’s proud of us for not giving up searching for him. I know he’s proud.”
Heflin Police say they are one step closer to answers. While they couldn’t reveal the cause of death, police say there is no doubt it was a homicide and they have multiple persons of interest.
Officers are now talking to witnesses and processing evidence as part of the homicide case.
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