SPRING HILL, Fla. (WFLA) – Sharon Harrer disappeared from St. Petersburg in November of 1979.
On Wednesday morning, her niece, Melissa, couldn’t believe the news when she turned on her television.
“I was in shock. I thought we would never know, we would never find out because he’s in prison for life,” the Palm Harbor woman told 8 On Your Side.
Melissa was 7 months old when her aunt vanished.
Over the years, she says she has had a hunch Billy Mansfield could be responsible. Mansfield was convicted in the deaths of five women from 1975 to 1980: one in California and four in Florida.
Melissa thinks her aunt could be added to that list.
“I think it’s terrible because I think one of them is my aunt,” she said.
She came to Roundup Lane in Spring Hill after learning investigators were at the Mansfield family property. They came, sources say, to search for human remains.
A Hernando County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said on Oct. 27, around 5 a.m., detectives served a search warrant at 3422 Roundup Lane and arrested Gary Mansfield, Billy’s brother.
They seized illegal drugs from the home, the spokeswoman said, and found drug-related equipment. Mansfield is charged with a host of crimes.
“Additionally, detectives located items on a nearby property that were deemed to be suspicious. These items are separate and apart from the narcotics investigation and have been sent for laboratory testing,” spokeswoman Denise Moloney said.
Sources tell 8 On Your Side human remains were discovered and Mansfield blurted out that bodies were on the property as he was being hauled away.
“I happened to see all the sheriff’s and officers as the day unfolded. We found out what really had happened,” said Kelli Shafer, a neighbor.
For Melissa Harrer, she hopes something is unearthed that can lead her family to a sense of solace all these years later.
“Just hope that they do find her, so we can put her to rest,” she said.