Police search for human remains in eastern Orange County

Search warrant says officials were looking for 'human skeletal remains'

BITHLO, Fla. – Friends and family want to know if the search for human remains in eastern Orange County on Wednesday has any connection to the search for a missing single mother.

Orange County sheriff's investigators say Tia Bonta, 24, was last seen on July 31 at the Days Inn at the corner of Alafaya Trail and East Colonial Drive. 

Six miles away, sheriff's investigators sifted through dirt Wednesday in the backyard of a home on Belvedere Road.

The search warrant given to the homeowner said detectives were looking for human skeletal remains connected to a homicide.

"This must be serious," said homeowner Michael Nash. "I thought maybe there was a raid or something going on."

He said detectives spent approximately five hours searching a wooded area in the back section of his 1-acre tract.

News 6 walked the area Wednesday night and found two holes filled with dirt.

Steps away, a group of people gathered outside their trailer homes wondering if the search had any connection to Bonta's disappearance.

"She was my daughter's best friend," said Vicky Collins, who lives part-time on the property.

Collins said Bonta had visited the property before, and that's what made her think the search was connected.

"She rode up with somebody one time, and as a matter fact, we thought it was our daughter," she said. "This person that wasn't."

She said she fears Bonta may have started following the wrong crowd.

Orange County sheriff's investigators are still trying to find a person of interest in the case.

They say Bonta was last seen with James Dellofield at the Days Inn, and they want to question him.

If you have any information on Bonta's or Dellofield's whereabouts, you're asked to call Crime Line at 800-423-TIPS.

About the Author: