LEESBURG, Fla. – Human remains found Wednesday in a shallow grave in Lake County have been identified as belonging to a missing 92-year-old woman, officials said.
Deputies announced around 3:30 p.m. Thursday that the remains were those of Rubye James, who lived in the 2000 block of Edgewood Road in Leesburg. The death was ruled a homicide, but officials did not provide further details on how she died.
The Lake County Sheriff's Office was told that James lived alone and hadn't been seen since Tuesday night.
Deputies said James and her car, a white 2016 Hyundai Veloster, were missing from the home.
Her vehicle was later found in the area of Snow Place in Leesburg. The remains were found nearby after K-9s picked up a scent, deputies said.
Officials originally did not say if the remains were those of James.
The body was removed by authorities, and an investigation is continuing.
James' son, Wayne Solomon, said his mother was a retired teacher who, at times, was too trusting. Even before officials identified the remains, Solomon was confident that they were those of his mother.
Robert MacCall lived behind James for more than five decades.
"She was a nice person," he said. "I haven't had many neighbors, but she was one of the best. Her son and my son grew up together right here in this neighborhood. The way it happened -- to live that long and she gotta go out like that -- it's not good news."
MacCall said he would always see her outside on his way to work.
"I would be going to work and she would be out there in the yard, and she would get to the point where she would sit in a chair and work on the flower beds, he said.
A woman who lives near the area where the shallow grave was found said she saw James' car parked near the area before the body was found, but because there's often activity in her neighborhood, she didn't think much of it.
She said her heart dropped when officials removed the body.
"I watched them pull the little lady out of them woods and they lifted up a big sheet that was covered in blood and I couldn't help but to ask myself, 'Who the hell could do something like that to a little old lady?" Sara Collins said.
She said she saw some young men loitering near James' vehicle. Originally, she thought they were buying and selling drugs, but now she insists that they're responsible for James' death.
"I hope that they feel 40 times more what that little old lady felt when they were doing whatever they were doing to make her bleed like that," Collins said.
News 6 was there as detectives put up Crimeline signs in hopes someone will come forward with information in the case.
Neighbors could be seen laying flowers where James' body was found in the woods.
"She sure did leave a legacy in the community, because she has been here since as long as I can remember," MacCall said.
The Sheriff's Office stressed the importance of community involvement when it comes to crime and asks citizens to always remember: If you see something, say something.
Anyone with information regarding James is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 352-343-2101 or Central Florida Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS. Deputies said tipsters could be eligible for a cash reward.
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