JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said today an internal investigation is under way to determine if proper procedure was followed in the days between the filing of an information report and the start of the search for Michelle McCoy.
In a news conference, Chief Dwain Senterfitt said while detectives have spoken to several people regarding McCoy's disappearance, there are no named suspects so far.
Senterfitt said the patrol division took an information report on Jan. 10 of a possible abduction being witnessed by someone on the Northside.
McCoy's family didn't report her missing until three days later.
Standard procedure for information reports is that they get forwarded to detectives if no closure is reached within 10 days.
In this case, the detectives got the information report after six days. The two reports were connected on Jan. 25 -- two weeks after McCoy disappeared.
Senterfitt said he does not know why there was a delay and that is part of the investigation.
"Officers in this case may have done something wrong, they may not have; we won't know until we look into it," said Senterfitt.
Witness Calls 911
The witness who said he saw the abduction told his side of the story earlier today.
"Police, come right now," the witness said in a 911 call. "A woman is being kidnapped right now!"
According to the man, he saw a van pull down Washington Avenue. "It's a gray van," he described in the call.
He said he saw a woman try to get out of the van and then get pulled back in. There were three people in the van, he said and he saw the woman try a few times to get out before a "slender-built man" got out and forced her back into the van.
She started screaming, and someone nearby fired a gun in the air to try and stop the van, but it was too late, she said.
The witness was able to follow the van around the Lem Turner and Belvedere Road area, but then lost it.
He returned to the scene to meet police and said there was a shoe and a rope left behind, but police were not interested in it and never collected it, so he took it and kept in his car.
"The sheriff's office did not proceed like they cared," he said.
He contacted police again Jan. 25 after seeing McCoy's "missing" poster in a window. "It kind of ticked me off a little knowing he had to ride around with the evidence for 15 days before (JSO) actually put two and two together," said McCoy's uncle, Kirk White.
JSO confirmed police did get a shoe and rope from the witness and they believe the shoe is McCoy's. There is now an internal investigation into how the case was handled.
Senterfitt said if there was evidence at a scene the officers should have collected it.
McCoy's Family Concerned
McCoy's family said they feel JSO lost precious time when the 20-year-old may have been found.
"There's no doubt about that. I'm sure they feel the same way but you can't go back and change it. It's too late," said White.
JSO announced Thursday the search for 20-year-old McCoy, whose residence is listed as being on Churchill Drive in Northwest Jacksonville.
Michelle's twin sister Melissa McCoy told police Jan. 13 that Michelle hadn't been seen for three days, which was unusual, and that she wasn't answering her phone.`
"I done cried," she said. "I just can't cry no more," her sister said.
She said her sister left with an acquaintance in a Chrysler van on Jan. 10. "She was like, 'I'm going to be back,' and I said, 'Okay.'"
McCoy's cousin has also spoken with the witness. "He looked at the flyer and said, 'This is the girl I tried to help. I tried to tell them something was wrong with this girl,'" she recalled.
Melissa McCoy said her sister was uneasy about meeting the acquaintance, but said didn't say why. "Her conscience was talking to her, telling her, 'Look, this is a time you need to stay home,'" McCoy said. "But she just left anyway."
Before she left, McCoy asked her sister to call in five minutes.
She never did. "A couple of minutes went by and I texted her and I asked her was she straight and she didn't text me back. From then I knew something was wrong," she said.
If you know anything that can help in the investigation, call our partner First Coast Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS (8477). You will remain anonymous and could receive a cash reward if your information leads to an arrest.
First Coast News