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Person of interest apprehended in connection with woman's disappearance, death

Brianna Volz, Clay LePard

Officials have apprehended a man wanted in connection with the disappearance of Jennifer Lynn Fulford, 56.

The search for Fulford ended Saturday after Winter Park police said she was found dead in Orange County.

Winter Park police said Fulford's body was found off of Apopka-Vineland Road after authorities spotted the deceased woman from an Orange County Sheriff's Office helicopter.

Fulford's SUV was found Friday in Orange County. Police said it was not in the same area where her body was found, but said that after processing the vehicle they obtained "valuable evidence.

Authorities said they had been flooded with tips as they searched for a person of interest, identified as Scott Nelson, 53, in connection with Fulford's disappearance.

Police said Nelson was located at a motel in Jacksonville by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

"This is a dangerous individual," Winter Park Police Chief Michael Deal said.

Fulford's famly issued a statement Sunday night after learning of Nelson's apprehension.

"We wish to express our profound gratitude to the Winter Park Police Department and the other Central Florida law enforcement agencies that worked tirelessly to find the man who is believed to have taken the life of Jennifer Fulford. Our hearts are broken, but we are encouraged that the perpetrator of this heinous crime will now be brought to justice."

Fulford, a wife, mother of two, grandmother and property manager, was last seen Wednesday leaving her dentist's office in Winter Park, officials said.

Winter Park police said she "vanished under suspicious circumstances."

Photos released by Winter Park police show a man believed to be Nelson accessing Fulfords’ bank account at an ATM. The man was seen wearing a Workout 32789 shirt in surveillance photos.

In a Facebook post, the gym said, "The entire Workout 32789 family, employees and clients are praying for the speedy and safe return of Jennifer Lynn Fulford. The person of interest featured in the media photo has never been an employee or client of this studio. Our thoughts remain with Jennifer and her family."

Police said Saturday they had a "good idea" of Nelson's whereabouts and that they believe they have strong evidence that will help tie him to Fulford's death. Nelson is on federal probation for bank robbery, Winter Park officers said.

Robert Fulford, Jennifer Fulford's husband, told News 6 that after he got home Wednesday evening, Altamonte Springs police came to his house to tell him that his wife's boss had reported her missing. Jennifer Fulford did not pick up a client's child from school, which was described as odd behavior for her.

"She never picked him up from school, and I haven't heard from her since. I can't get her on her cellphone. Her phone is off. She's not answering texts," Robert Fulford said. "She's the nicest lady, most responsible lady on the planet, and it's just not like her to disappear."

News 6 spoke with Fulford's family after her body was discovered, and they said they are shaken up over it all and hope police catch the person responsible. They added that Jennifer Fulford was kind and loving, and the kind of person who would help anybody if they asked.

"Jennifer Fulford did not deserve this fate," Deal said. "She was a productive member of our community, and she has a loving family devastated by this event."

The family that hired Fulford as their property manager also released this statement:

"We are heartbroken to learn of Jennifer’s death and find it difficult to understand why and how she became a victim of such a heinous crime. This senseless event has shocked all of us to the core. Jennifer was kind and loving. She cared for her family deeply as she did ours. We will miss her and simply have no words to describe this loss and our grief.

"We would like to express our appreciation to the Winter Park Police Department and the other law enforcement agencies working on this matter. While we are aware of the public’s interest, it remains an extremely personal and emotional time for us and we ask for privacy. We will not be making any public statements."

Watch News 6 and stay with ClickOrlando.com for updates on this story.

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