The person of interest held in the case of missing University of Florida student Christian Aguilar has been charged with his first degree murder, Gainesville Police announced Friday evening.
Pedro A. Bravo, who attended Doral Academy in Miami with Aguilar before both friends moved to Gainesville this summer, previously told investigators he left Aguilar unconscious in a parking lot last Thursday evening after the pair got into a fight over a woman both dated.
Police did not reveal what new evidence led them to conclude Aguilar is dead, and a spokesman declined to answer questions after a short statement and appeal for help finding the 18-year-old's body.
"The body of Christian Aguilar has not yet been recovered," said police spokesman Ben Tobias. "We still encourage citizens to help us in this search."
Tobias also asked residents in remote areas of Gainesville who have lime rock roads or driveways accessible to the public to check their properties for disturbed ground -- and for anyone who spotted Bravo's 2004 Chevrolet Blazer last Thursday to call police. The vehicle's front passenger tire doesn't match the others, a detail investigators hope will help jog someone's memory.
Bravo, also 18, has been in police custody since he was charged Monday with depriving a crime victim of medical treatment, a third-degree felony. Family and friends feared Aguilar was injured and disoriented after the beating, sparking a massive search of wooded areas near the parking lot where Bravo claimed to have left him.
But on Wednesday, police announced that Bravo had purchased a shovel and duct tape several days before Aguilar went missing. Aguiar's father Carlos told NBC6 after the revelation he suspects Bravo may have been jealous of Aguilar, who was attending UF while Bravo enrolled at nearby Santa Fe College.
“I don’t have any more tears right now, but the pain is in my chest," a grieving Carlos Aguilar told the Miami Herald Friday night. But he vowed to continue searching alongside volunteers and police: “Because if we don’t find Christian’s body, unfortunately, [Pedro] can walk and I will not let that happen.’’
Police said the search for Aguilar's body would resume at 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Tobias concluded his announcement of the murder charge by expressing sympathy for the heartbroken family.
"The deepest condolences of the Gainesville Police Department are with the Aguilar family today," he said.
This is a developing story.
Pedro Bravo's Chevy Blazer
Pedro A. Bravo
In this undated photo provided by the Gainesville Police Department, a shovel is shown similar to one police say the person of interest bought days before a fellow University of Florida student, Christian Aguilar went missing. Aguilar, 18, was last seen Thursday at a Best Buy store in Gainesville, police said. He was with Pedro Bravo, 18, who faces a third-degree felony charge of depriving a victim of medical treatment. Bravo was arrested Monday and was being held on $100,000 bond. (AP Photo/Gainesville Police Department)