Friday morning, the mother of Abraham Shakespeare's 1-year-old son said she was convinced a body found in a hole on a Plant City property was the missing Florida Lottery winner. Hours later, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office confirmed her fears, announcing that the remains found Thursday had been identified through Shakespeare's fingerprints.
The cause of death isn't expected until Monday, Hillsborough deputies say.
Detectives have completed searching at the dig site and are now filling the excavated area, but will remain at the scene through the weekend, the sheriff's office said.
Tori Butler, the mother of Shakespeare's 1-year-old son, said she's sad and shocked by what deputies unearthed in eastern Hillsborough.
She said she always pictured Shakespeare would live to be older than 100. Until the remains were found Thursday, she said, she had held out hope that the missing Shakespeare was still alive. She thought the man missing since April would suddenly come out of hiding.
"Now all of a sudden he didn't even get to witness his baby walk. He didn't get to witness his baby cut his first teeth, his first day at day care, his first pictures he took at day care."
Authorities found and removed the remains Thursday, the third day of a dig at a property between Plant City and Brandon. The remains were buried about 5 feet under a concrete slab some 100 yards behind a building at 5802 State Road 60 E.
Butler said she had an on-again, off-again relationship with Shakespeare, 43, and last saw him near Valentine's Day. He was last seen alive in April, although he wasn't reported missing until November.
Her suspicions grew that something was wrong when she received text messages last year from him or someone using his number. He could read but not well, and wasn't the type of person who texted, she said.
One of Shakespeare's texts was lengthy. Butler said she mentioned it to Dorice Donegan "DeeDee" Moore and that Moore told her Shakespeare was learning to read better.
One day, Butler said, she will tell her son that Shakespeare had a good heart and was a caring man.
"He just met the wrong people," she said.
Though the remains have been removed, investigators are looking for evidence to prove who put them there, forensic expert Michael Baden said.
"We had one case where a guy left behind his credit card," Baden said. "Like Sherlock Holmes said to Watson, 'I don't know what I am looking for, but I will tell you when I find it.'"
No suspects have been named, but authorities are investigating Moore's dealings with Shakespeare. Authorities have said she moved some of Shakespeare's money to her accounts after April.
The property being searched is owned by Moore's boyfriend, Shar Krasniqi. It houses the law office of D. Howard Stitzel. A lawyer for Stitzel said his client has nothing to do with Shakespeare's disappearance and that Stitzel is cooperating with authorities. Krasniqi could not be reached for comment.
Not long after Shakespeare bought a million-dollar home in early 2007, he was approached by Moore, said family and officials. Moore she was interested in writing a book about Shakespeare's life and became something of a financial adviser to Shakespeare, who never graduated high school.
Moore moved more than $1 million from Shakespeare's bank accounts into her own after he was last seen, Polk County deputies say.