April 1st, 2010
11:41 AM ET

Van remains may solve disappearance of woman, kids

For nearly 11 years, the family of Nelta Jacques has awaited word on her fate, as well as that of her two daughters, ages 5 and 7.

The three disappeared in June 1999, on a rain-soaked night as they were traveling from Jacques' father's home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to their home in Tampa, a drive of about 260 miles.

But a grisly discovery Wednesday in a Florida canal - a submerged minivan with human remains inside - might provide some long-sought answers.

"It's hard. It's just some closure right now," Valbrun Chevalier, Jacques' brother, told CNN Thursday.

The algae-covered minivan was found Wednesday morning during a Broward (County) Sheriff's Office training exercise at the canal, located in a wildlife management area along Interstate 75, authorities said in a news release.

The sheriff's office has not released further details or said whether there are remains of more than one person. But Chevalier, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, said Thursday that police had notified his family that the minivan - an older-model Dodge Caravan - was registered to Jacques.

He said he did not know whether the remains of all three had been found, but relatives were providing authorities with DNA samples Thursday.

Jacques was 27 when she was last seen June 2, 1999. She had worked at a Walmart and at toll plazas in Florida, along with other odd jobs, Chevalier said. She had just returned from a visit with relatives in Haiti, and had picked up her daughters - Johanna St. Louis, 7, and Juanita Jacques, 5, from her father's home.

She left for Tampa, driving her 1996 green Dodge Caravan minivan, about 11:30 p.m. in the rain, despite family members' pleas not to, Chevalier said. She never arrived.

Relatives reported her and the children missing, but police had little to go on, he said. "There wasn't anything they could do. They said, 'Wait it out.'"

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Amelia

    that's so sad.god bless there family

    April 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amelia

    So sad i hope the best for there family and that there is justice for there love ones

    April 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |