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Authorities: Plot to kill Fla. teen followed fight

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MIKE SCHNEIDER | April 20, 2011 09:30 PM EST | AP

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SUMMERFIELD, Fla. — When Seath Tyler Jackson received a text message Sunday afternoon from a 15-year-old ex-girlfriend saying she wanted to rekindle their romance and that they should meet at a central Florida house, a female friend of Jackson's sensed something wasn't right.

"I wouldn't fall for that," 16-year-old Brittnay Jones told Jackson, she recalled to The Associated Press.

The 15-year-old Jackson ignored his friend's advice and went Sunday to a house in Summerfield, about 65 miles northwest of Orlando.

There, authorities said, he was fatally beaten and shot as a result of a plot to lure him there and kill him. Then, Jackson's body was stuffed into a sleeping bag and burned, and the remains were put in paint buckets and dumped at a remote lime rock pit, authorities allege.

Marion County sheriff's detectives said the way the defendants carried out the crime was "unlike anything they had ever seen."

Authorities on Tuesday night arrested six people in connection with the crime, charging five with first-degree murder. The five were being held without bond.

Investigators said in an arrest affidavit that five suspects had acknowledged varying roles in Jackson's death. Authorities said the 15-year-old girl and a woman, 18-year-old Charlie Kay Ely, acknowledged trying to persuade Jackson to come to the woman's house. Deputies also said the girl's brother, 16, and 20-year-old Justin Soto acknowledged participating in the attack on Jackson and alleged that 18-year-old Michael Bargo shot Jackson repeatedly with a .22-caliber revolver.

Authorities, as well as family and friends, said Bargo was dating Jackson's ex-girlfriend and had gotten into a fight with him several weeks ago.

The five were gathered at the house Sunday "when Michael Bargo began to speak of his hatred for the victim Seath Jackson," authorities wrote the 16-year-old boy told them. "The conversation then turned into a plan to lure Seath to the residence so that Michael Bargo could kill him with the assistance of other persons."

Authorities have also charged the stepfather of the minor suspects, 37-year-old James Young Havens III, with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. He was being held on $10,000 bond. The AP is not identifying the two youngest suspects because they are minors.

Investigators were searching Wednesday afternoon for remains in both the fire and lime rock pits, as well as for the murder weapon.

Bargo and some friends began plotting Jackson's death after the two fought several weeks ago, authorities said, and things moved quickly.

The plan called for Bargo's girlfriend to text Jackson, telling him that she wanted to get back together and that he should meet her at the house, authorities said. Ely and Soto were living at the house, and Bargo sometimes stayed there, according to court papers.

Authorities said Ely told them that she and the 15-year-old girl met with Jackson to try to get him "back to her residence so that the murder could take place." But Jackson didn't return with them due to a disagreement.

Ely told deputies "Michael Bargo was furious and demanded that the two get Juvenile Jackson to the house so that the plan could be carried out," according to the affidavit.

That's when the 15-year-old girl sent a text message to Jackson, authorities said.

Brittnay Jones told the AP that Jackson told her Sunday about the texts. Jackson's Facebook postings in early March displayed affection toward the girl whom he'd dated, but they turned angry toward the end of the month.

When Jackson arrived Sunday afternoon, authorities said Soto told them, Bargo and the 16-year-old boy emerged from a spare bedroom and "bum-rushed" and began to beat Jackson. The 16-year-old told authorities that he and Soto struck Jackson with wooden objects.

Bargo then shot Jackson several times, several defendants told investigators.

Authorities said Soto told them that when Jackson tried to escape, he struck him with an ax handle and restrained him. Investigators say Soto acknowledged helping place the victim in a bath tub, where he said Bargo beat his kneecaps and, realizing Jackson was still alive, shot him again.

Afterward, some group members hog-tied Jackson and put his body in a sleeping bag, which was placed in the backyard fire pit and burned for several hours, authorities said.

His ashes were then put into 5-gallon paint cans and disposed of, authorities said. The house was then scoured with bleach to get rid of the blood.

Havens told investigators he arrived after the slaying and helped put the ashes into the paint cans and get rid of other evidence, authorities said.

Jackson's parents reported him missing Monday, thinking he had run away. Authorities said they learned of the slaying Tuesday when Havens' wife called investigators to say her 16-year-old son had witnessed the slaying.

Bargo, Soto, Ely – who maintains she ran into the bedroom before any shots were fired – and the minor siblings were arrested hours later.

Phone messages left by the AP at listings for Bargo, Soto, Ely and Havens were not returned Wednesday. A phone number listed for the victim's parents was not in service. A woman who was standing outside the victim's home about three miles from the attack site told an AP reporter to leave.

Lacy Lyons, 18, described Jackson as a "good kid" who did well in school.

"He had the cutest little smile," Lyons said.

Court records show that Bargo had earlier charges of burglary and grand theft. Another court record showed that a woman had sought an injunction against Bargo to protect her son. The woman's phone number was disconnected.

Bargo's attorney for that case, Charles Holloman, said his client did not have a violent track record.

"He's had his scraps, just like a lot of kids growing up, but certainly nothing that rises to this level," Holloman said.

Jones, the friend who tried to stop Jackson from going to the house, said the killing should never have happened.

"It's just boys and their stupid fights," Jones said. "It's just who wants to be the bigger man."

___

Associated Press writers Christine Armario and Suzette Laboy contributed to this report from Miami.