Items seized from domestic detectives are linked to body parts of Dustin Davis Mills found at the Hungryland Preserve
As authorities continue to investigate the homicide of a man whose remains are believed to have been found dismembered in a remote environmental area in Martin County, those who knew him described a person long on a difficult path whose life was heavily influenced by drugs.
Officials spent more than a week beginning March 9 at the John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area southwest of Pratt Whitney Road after a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist reported seeing what she thought was an arm in an alligator. mouth, Martin sheriff’s officials said.
Investigators eventually found body parts in at least three locations, including a torso in a shallow grave. One part was about 1.5 miles from a second part, Sheriff Martin William Snyder said.
The remains are believed to be those of Dustin Davis Mills, 42, of St. Lucie County, but the medical examiner has yet to confirm that, Martin Sheriff Capt. Ruben Romero said.
After: “I think I just stabbed an officer”; more details emerge in attempted murder arrest
In St. Lucie County, sheriff’s officials revealed a possible link between Mills and homes raided beginning March 14 in the 1300 block of Southwest Del Rio Boulevard and the 100 block of Northeast Jettie Terrace.
“Something about the initial Martin County investigation led to some sort of potential connection to Del Rio,” Chief Deputy Brian Hester said.
Hester said Monday that Mills at one time lived in the Northeast Jettie Terrace home.
Hester said he believes people at the Southwest Del Rio residence provided drugs to people in Northeast Jettie Terrace.
Two men were arrested March 14 as sheriff’s investigators executed a search warrant at Del Rio’s home, revealing more than 2.5 pounds of cocaine, nearly 3 pounds of marijuana, lesser amounts of other drugs, a 9mm pistol and more than $13,000 in cash, records show.
According to court records, investigators in a search warrant for Del Rio’s home sought to find “evidence of the crime of homicide,” including evidence of blood, weapons used to cut, objects to bind a person, such as zip ties or tape, and DNA.
A three-page inventory of seized items includes swabs of bloodstains on the garage floor and driveway, several firearms, ammunition, and a knife and shoe “with possible blood”. They also searched a 2014 Dodge Journey.
Dustin Davis Mills Homicide Case: Not all remains are found in search of a remote natural area
Hester said they couldn’t rule out the possibility that the homicide took place in Hungryland.
“We first looked at these residences, potential locations where this homicide could have occurred,” Hester said. “None of the evidence we have recovered so far leads us to believe that a homicide has occurred in Del Rio or Jettie Terrace.”
Still, he said the evidence was being analyzed.
“If anything doesn’t come back conclusively to indicate that it may have happened here at one of these St. Lucie County residences…we’ll likely refer this homicide to (the) Martin County (Office of the sheriff)” said Hester. “Really, they’re still involved in this.”
Those who knew Mills said he had drug issues and couldn’t follow the right path.
Kimberly Byrd, 46, said she worked with Mills at a restaurant on US 1 in Port St. Lucie about 15 years ago. She said her nickname was “Duddy”.
Byrd said Mills was the roommate of one of her husband’s best friends. She said they argued, noting drug issues.
“I didn’t really run in the same circles he did,” Byrd said. “Everyone had kind of moved on since then and Dustin kind of stayed on that path. It wasn’t the best, unfortunately.
After: Police search for missing Port St. Lucie girl, 15, last seen on her way to school
Jason Yuftczak, 41, said he’s known Mills for about 20 years, saying he struggled with drugs and mental health.
“As far as decision-making, he didn’t make the best choices, because he just wasn’t there in his head and the drugs played a part in that,” Yuftczak said.
He said Mills’ life was ruled by drugs and he didn’t want to help himself.
At one point he said Mills had lived in a tent for 16 months.
“I was the person who took care of him all the time. I took him to work, I helped him, I did his laundry,” Yuftczak said. “I let him stay at my house many times; I treated this guy like a brother until he started stealing from me.
Mills had been sentenced to prison at least three times since 1999, most recently released in 2020, records show.
Around 10 a.m. on January 8, Port St. Lucie police attended what was described as a “possible overdose,” a report said. Mills was taken to hospital and was conscious and unconscious. An officer reported that Mills had a history of overdoses.
Less than nine hours later, police attended an address on Northeast St. James Drive where Mills said he had suicidal thoughts and wanted to harm himself.
Police say Mills was taken to a care facility under provisions of the state’s Baker Law.
The Baker Act allows people with mental illness to be detained, voluntarily or involuntarily, in a mental health facility for up to 72 hours if the person is deemed a threat to themselves or others.
After: Driver critically injured after being ejected from vehicle in three-car crash in Port St. Lucie
Yuftczak said that after Mills was Baker Acted, Mills asked to stay on Yuftczak’s couch.
“He had no optimism, he had no goal, he had no motivation, he didn’t want to work, he didn’t want to stop doing drugs,” Yuftczak said. “…He just didn’t want to change.”
Yuftczak said he had his own criminal history, but said he learned from his poor choices.
“I’m much better…some people change, some people don’t,” Yuftczak said. “No one deserves to die like he did…”
Will Greenlee is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Will on Twitter @OffTheBeatTweet or contact him by phone at 772-267-7926. Email him at [email protected]
If you are a subscriber, thank you. Otherwise, become a subscriber to get the latest breaking news and crime coverage.