The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that the decomposing body discovered in a wooded area along Lee and Hendry county lines last week did, in fact, belong to missing 50-year-old Albert Harris of Fort Myers, according to Wink News. Her family is now searching for answers, desperate to find out what happened to the well-known mother of two.
Harris, who was a bus driver for the Lee County School District, was reported missing on April 9 "after she failed to show up at a family gathering." Her husband, Oliver Freeman, stated that concerns grew when he "looked at [his] phone at 12:30 p.m. [He] said 'my wife ain't called me, something ain't right, she'll call me later.' By 7 p.m., still no answer."
Fort Myers Police confirm to #winknews the body found in Hendry County is Alberta Harris. pic.twitter.com/L194zL8hDlHowever, three days after her disappearance, relatives discovered her vehicle – a 2005 silver GMC Yukon - in the parking lot of a flea market on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with "blood inside and a busted window on the driver side."
— Andrew Scheinthal (@AScheinthalWINK) April 26, 2016
After the missing woman's vehicle was found, her family remained hopeful. Her daughter Ebony Freeman said, "I want her to come home. Fight, breathe, breathe. I been down this road before when I lost my brother. Fight and breathe for me, and come home. I don't know if she's trying to fight or if she's even still alive."
"I'm hurt, I'm in disbelief, but I know she's out there, and I just want her home."Oliver added that if she was taken and murdered, all he's asking is that the person "put her somewhere she can be found."
According to Fox4Now, when a group of teens was walking near a wooded area on Wheeler Road and 14th Place on April 20, they discovered a decomposing body and immediately alerted police. However, it wasn't until a local medical examiner performed an autopsy that it was confirmed that the human remains belonged to the missing woman.
Alberta Harris's softball teammate: "she could run like the wind." Harris was #2 hitter for team @Fox4Now pic.twitter.com/5yWuc18A1DIn a press conference Tuesday, Fort Myers Police Chief Dennis Eads stated that Harris' murder was "not a random act. The individual was targeted in this case. There are some people that are being looked at. There have been some names provided so I am very confident there will be a resolution to it."
— Lisa Greenberg (@LisaGreenbergTV) April 26, 2016
"And now the next step is getting closure to find out who's responsible for doing this."Police officials say that Harris' death is "being investigated as a homicide because of the location where her body was found."
"I never in a million years thought I'd have a friend that was murdered… Never," said Angie Becker, Harris' friend. "At least we know now and we can start to mourn and move on."
A growing memorial for a woman who was so loved in her community. Story tonight on @winknews #AlbertaHarris pic.twitter.com/1HIJ4PgDX4Another friend of Harris, Ody Eire, told reporters that learning of her death was "difficult. Now we're just waiting to see what happened to her. She's still here. I'm sure she's with us. She was a super woman and she'll always be a super woman. We miss her."
— Michelle Kingston (@MKingstonWINK) April 27, 2016
"For the family's sake, for closure, they need to know what happened. Not knowing is worse."A vigil was held last Saturday for the missing Florida woman, where a dozen of her friends and softball teammates gathered on the field to remember a remarkable woman, whom they say was full of "spunk and truly loved the game."
"Even when we were losing, you know, she would smack us on the butt and say get out there and hit the ball," said Angie Becker. "I think every time we take the field from here until the end of our days, we will always remember Berta."
Lee and Hendry county police officials are working closely together to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Alberta Harris, but if anyone has information regarding the case, they are urged to contact "FDLE Fort Myers Regional Operations Center at 239-278-7170 or 1-800-407-4880."
[Photo by Getty Images/Scott Olson]