Investigators locate dead cheerleader’s car on SW 42nd St.
Saleha Huuda had been a cheerleader at P.K. Yonge and Santa Fe College
Published: Monday, January 3, 2011 at 12:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.
Authorities have located new evidence in the investigation into the death of Saleha Huuda, a University of Florida undergraduate and P.K. Yonge graduate whose body was found last week in a brush fire.
Firefighters discovered the badly burned body of Huuda, 21, of Gainesville, early Thursday while responding to a small fire near the Gainesville Raceway. The Alachua County Sheriff's Office is investigating the case and had been searching for Huuda's car, which was found early Monday evening in the 1500 block of Southwest 42nd Street.
"It's an important piece of evidence because it's not at her apartment, it's not where she was found, it was at a third location," said Art Forgey, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.
Forgey said a caller had reported the 2001 Nissan Sentra as a suspicious vehicle after seeing it sitting in the neighborhood for several days with a woman's purse on the seat. The vehicle will be examined in search of other evidence, Forgey said.
Huuda was a senior majoring in family, youth and community sciences at UF. Her cousin, Danielle Agyemang, said Huuda planned to attend graduate school for nursing, and remembered her as being hardworking, vivacious and full of energy.
She said Huuda graduated from P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and attended Santa Fe College, cheerleading at both places, before attending UF. Huuda was a competitive cheerleader with a university club and danced with the Urban Essence and African Student Union dance troupes.
"Dancing was her life," Agyemang said.
The Sheriff's Office is waiting for a medical examiner's report before deciding whether to rule Huuda's death as a homicide, Forgey said. He declined to provide additional details.
Authorities identified Huuda on Saturday after they found that her distinctive tattoos had been logged into a police database. The body was identified around the same time her parents filed a missing persons report.
In November, Huuda was arrested on accusations that she violated a restraining order. Police reported that she was visiting her boyfriend and encountered a woman who had filed the order in October, after reporting that she had a physical altercation with Huuda and received threatening text messages from her. The man appeared to be dating both women, according to a police report.
Forgey said the people involved in that case, as well as nearly anyone involved in Huuda's life, are part of the current investigation.
"That's obviously one aspect that we will look at, but not the only thing," he said.
Huuda's family members remembered her as someone who was involved in a variety of activities. In addition to dancing and cheerleading, Agyemang said her cousin was a volunteer, counselor and member of the Black Student Union.
"She was just always doing something," said another cousin, Ndyanao Horne.
Agyemang recalled a recent story in which Huuda asked to borrow money from her mother, only to end up giving the money to a homeless person.
"That just attests to who she was, her character," Agyemang said.
Huuda's death represents the second high-profile tragedy in a year for Agyemang. Her uncle, UF doctoral student Kofi Adu-Brempong, was shot in March in his campus apartment by a university police officer. He was severely injured but survived, and the case resulted in protests and changes at the university.
Alachua County detectives are seeking information on Huuda's activities in the days before her death and anyone who had contact with her. Those with information may call 955-1818. Callers also may remain anonymous and be eligible to receive a reward of as much as $1,000 by calling Crime Stoppers at 372-STOP (7867).
Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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