One year after Tia Bonta remains identified detectives still searching for answers

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor, Emilee Speck - Digital journalist
Kevin Bonta

Tia Bonta after the birth of her son. Bonta's remains were found in September 2017, after she was reported missing more than a year earlier.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - One year ago Thursday, the remains of Tia Bonta that were found in a wooded area were positively identified as the 24-year-old mother, turning her missing person's case into a death investigation.

Tia Bonta's remains were found by two men picking palmetto berries on Sept. 29, 2017 in the area of Fort Christmas and Lake Picket roads. She was last seen in July 2016.

Orange County Sheriff's Office officials confirmed on Oct. 18, 2017, that the remains found in Bithlo were determined through forensic techniques to be the missing woman. Tia Bonta's father, Kevin Bonta, said investigators used his daughter's dental records to identify her remains.

The case is now an active death investigation. A year after her death was confirmed, News 6 asked Orange County Sheriff's Office officials if there were any new developments in the case.

Public Information Officer Ingrid Tejada-Monforte said there is nothing new and the investigation is ongoing.

No updates in the case have been provided in the last year.

One year ago, Detective Peter Hernandez said experts were examining the remains in an attempt to determine Tia Bonta's cause of death.

“From this point forward we’re conducting an active death investigation. We can’t stipulate the exact cause of death, that’s still under current examination,” Hernandez said last year.

Tia Bonta was last seen on July 31, 2016, at the Days Inn at the corner of Alafaya Trail and East Colonial Drive. She was reported missing on Aug. 5, 2016.

[READ: You may not have heard of these 6 unsolved Central Florida cold cases]

Family members told deputies that Tia Bonta had been with James Dellafield at the Days Inn and he dropped her off at a home near Buck and Cleburne roads.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office identified Dellafield as a person of interest in the case weeks after Tia Bonta disappeared. He was later cleared.

Deputies said in November 2016 that Tia Bonta was presumed dead. She was the mother of a son, who was less than 1 year old when she disappeared.

Anyone with information about Tia Bonta's death is asked to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477). A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

Copyright 2018 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.