Police: Suspect in missing student case bought shovel, duct tape before disappearance


Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 9:17 p.m.

The man being held in connection with the beating and disappearance of a University of Florida student purchased a small shovel and duct tape a few days before the two are alleged to have had an altercation on Sept. 20, police said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the focus of the search for Christian Aguilar, 18, shifted Wednesday to an area in the Airport Industrial Park north of Gainesville Regional Airport based on more information from cellphones and other technology, said Officer Ben Tobias with the Gainesville Police Department.

"Several days before Christian's disappearance, we can confirm that Pedro Bravo did purchase a shovel and a roll of duct tape. (The shovel) has not been located at this point," Tobias said. "It is a small shovel … I can only speculate what it could be used for."

Bravo is being held in the Alachua County jail on a charge of failing to give a crime victim medical treatment. He told police that he had fought with Aguilar on Sept. 20 and left him in a parking lot in the 4900 block of Northwest 13th Street.

Tobias said Wednesday that the last recorded use of Aguilar's cellphone was at 8:14 p.m. on Sept. 20, when it was turned off at that time. The location of the cellphone at that time could not be determined, police said, and the phone has not been found.

Teams of volunteers and police were searching an area around the Alachua County Fairgrounds on Northeast 39th Avenue east of Waldo Road and at the industrial park off Waldo Road north of the airport.

Tobias said the industrial park was being searched based on cellphone pings from the vicinity.

Other areas that were searched earlier were being recombed Wednesday. One official said a reason for that is, given Bravo's purchase of a shovel, to look for ground that had been disturbed rather than to look for evidence on top of the ground.

Meanwhile, an officer said a psychic had called with information.

Aguilar is a UF freshman planning to major in biomedical engineering. He and Bravo had attended the Doral Academy together in Miami. Bravo attends Santa Fe College.

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