SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — Several months ago, Clare Wiedmaier said detectives from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office traveled to his home in Bowie, Maryland.

They went there to inform him and his wife that human remains had been identified as the niece they had not seen or spoken with in 17 years.

“It was very nerve-wracking, unsettling, sad, very bad situation and we were in absolute shock,” Wiedmaier told News Channel 8 during a phone interview Friday.

Every summer Wiedmaier said he expected a call from his niece Jeana Burrus between their two birthdays. But in 2006, she never called him.

No missing person report was ever filed with law enforcement, the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office said.

“The family tried other avenues and there was nothing,” Wiedmaier said. “We couldn’t get hold of her. We couldn’t find her we were waiting for her to come to us and all we had was the lie he told to us.”

The details of what James Burrus said happened to his wife Wiedmaier will not be revealed because of the ongoing investigation.

The Sarasota Sheriff’s Office confirmed to News Channel 8 that Jeana’s husband is considered a person of interest in the suspicious death investigation.

“Well, I can’t comment too much, but it’s mighty strange your wife ends up behind your job passed away,” Wiedmaier said. “That bothers us so much.”

Deputies said James Burrus worked at an auto body shop on Sarah Avenue near where officials found the skeletal remains of a woman in a wooded area of Ashton Court on February 6, 2007.

It wasn’t until November 2022 that investigators said they identified the remains as Jeana using advanced DNA testing.

“They could not get a match for several years until a year ago when they had a new type of test,” Wiedmaier said. “They performed that new test with Jeana’s body and matched with my wife right away.”

Following this major break in this cold case, Wiedmaier said the focus for his family is getting justice for Jeana.

“I want them to arrest the person that did this and take care of it,” he said. “Punish him to the maximum.”

A Sarasota Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said deputies have spoken with Jeana’s son. He was under the impression all these years that his mother had abandoned him.

Anyone who may have known either Jeana or James Burrus or has information regarding her death should contact SCSO Detective Brian Ng at 941-861-4900.