Large-scale search for missing priest begins on Jacksonville's Westside

JACKSONVILLE — A large-scale search has begun in Jacksonville for a missing St. Augustine priest who was last seen nearly a week ago.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office announced the joint search operation related to the disappearance off Father Rene Robert Saturday morning.

Officers are asking residents and property owners in the I-10/Beaver Street corridor between Baldwin and I-295 to check their property thoroughly including wooded areas and around bodies of water.

You are asked to call police if you see anything that looks suspicious or notice any disturbed ground or unusual smells. Police request you not touch or tamper with anything located.

Officers are also seeking surveillance video in the area taken in the late evening/night hours of Sunday, April 10, 2016.

They're specifically looking for suspicious activity or a vehicle that matches the description of Father Rene's 2012 blue Toyota Corolla, which was recovered in South Carolina late Wednesday.

The suspect in his disappearance, Steven Murray, was returned to St. Johns County late Friday and was due in court Saturday morning on charges of fleeing and eluding police.

Police say he is providing information which they are vetting.

On Wednesday, the Jacksonville Sheriff's officers were at the Stars Rest Inn on the Westside going door-to-door looking for Father Rene and Murray. The suspect's father, Bobby Murray, was arrested at the same motel this week after he was accused of touching himself in front of kids. 

Leads to Father Rene's disappearance have been few. Northeast Florida CrimeStoppers said they have had recieved no tips.

Anyone with any information reference the location of Father Rene Robert is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or by email at JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org.

To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000 contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.