New details emerge about suspect, missing student


Gainesville police spokesman Ben Tobias addresses members of the media concerning the case of missing University of Florida student Christian Aguilar Wednesday, September 26, 2012, at the Alachua County Fairgrounds in Gainesville, Fla.

Rob C. Witzel/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 10:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 11:47 p.m.

A few weeks ago, Pedro Andres Bravo asked his roommate a question.

"Do you know anything about the 34th Street wall?"

"I don't. I'm not an artist. But I think if you want to go out there and paint, it's all yours," his roommate told Bravo.

Bravo seemed to understand, and he did go out there. He got "a ton of spray paint," his roommate Erik Skipper said.

Bravo repeated several stenciled drawings of Reptar, a character from the cartoon Rugrats. When he finished, he initialed his work of art P.A.B.

On Thursday night, the art remained — and the man who painted it sat in jail.

Bravo, 18, is a suspect in the disappearance of University of Florida student Christian Aguilar, 18, who was last seen with Bravo in a Best Buy on Sept. 20.

Bravo reportedly told police he beat Aguilar unconscious and left him in a parking lot on Northwest 13th Street. Bravo was arrested and charged with leaving the victim of a crime in need of medical assistance, and police say the fight may have been over a girl named Erika Friman, who both of the men dated, but whom Aguilar was dating now.

Aguilar's father has said in interviews that he thinks Bravo may have been jealous of his son, for more than just the girl, but for what he is doing with his life. Aguilar is studious and responsible, family members have said. His GPA is high, family said, and they are proud of him for getting into UF.

In court, after his arrest, a lawyer spoke for Bravo, while Aguilar's mother pleaded for information on the whereabouts of her missing son. For anything.

In the past few days, people from all over Florida have searched for Aguilar. As of Thursday night, he remained missing.

Gainesville police spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said police are going to search some areas again, now that they know a shovel bought by Bravo may be involved, and that the areas they are interested in keep expanding.

"The search area is constantly growing and is now extending past the city limits," Tobias said in a release. "Investigators are still receiving tips and processing leads. The FBI and FDLE are assisting with some analytical work, and the U.S. Marshals are also assisting with their resources."

The command center for Friday's search will be at the Santa Fe College Institute of Public Safety, 3737 NE 39th Ave., Tobias said, adding that it's moving from the fairgrounds because of an event there this weekend. Anyone who wants to help in the search should report to the Florida Farm Bureau at 5700 SW 34th St. at 9 a.m. today.

While police, family and friends continue to comb Gainesville's forested areas, not much is known about what brought Bravo to Gainesville in the first place. But when Aguilar disappeared, Bravo's roommate, Skipper, was the first one questioned.

Skipper is a 19-year-old economics major at UF. Until recently, he had two roommates.

He said he met Bravo "six or seven weeks ago."

He described him as quiet and odd, thoughtful. He said Bravo was artistic. He had empty canvases on his wall. He liked Marvel characters like Captain America and Iron Man. He liked funny TV shows.

"He was nice," Skipper said. "when he would come out, he would offer me drinks or food. If I was cooking and he was around, I'd do the same."

One time Skipper said he was washing the dishes and Bravo was sitting on the couch sketching in a journal. He was curious and peeked at the book.

"It was different stuff like hearts, and there was poetry," Skipper said. "He would flip the page and I would see writing in the form of paragraphs. He was definitely journaling something."

Skipper joked with his other roommate that Bravo was like a ghost, because he was never around. He told Skipper he had friends in apartments elsewhere around Gainesville, and would regularly spend the night there.

Sometimes Bravo would bring friends over, and Skipper thinks it's possible Aguilar was over a few times. Bravo had a bike, too, in addition to his car. Skipper said the bike left scuff marks on the way up to Bravo's room, which was always locked when he wasn't around. As for the girl who both Bravo and Aguilar know, Skipper said he never heard Bravo mention her.

Bravo told Skipper he is a biomedical engineering major at Santa Fe College. Aguilar has the same major, according to family.

"But he was only taking two classes," Skipper said about Bravo. "Art and intro to chemistry. It was odd."

Skipper saw Bravo for the last time on the Thursday that Aguilar apparently disappeared. He wore the same clothes as in the Best Buy surveillance photo, Skipper said.

Skipper said Bravo usually took his bike with him, but that day he didn't. Skipper left and didn't return until 10 p.m., and according to his roommate, Bravo briefly returned sometime after 8 p.m. and quickly left again.

Skipper said earlier that day, Bravo wrote on the apartment whiteboard asking about student tickets for the UF-Kentucky football game. Skipper answered the question and went to bed. When he woke up on Friday, Skipper said there was a new question from Bravo about ticket amounts, meaning Bravo had returned home, between the time Skipper went to bed and woke up, at around 9 a.m.

The next night, around 10:30 p.m., there was a knock on the door. It was the police. They asked for Bravo, who wasn't home. Skipper said police questioned him for more than 30 minutes. They told him Bravo had been detained.

"I said, ‘no, I haven't seen him. Is he OK?' Later, I asked myself — ‘OK, is this kid a threat? Should I be concerned? Should I get out of here?' "

Skipper said the police returned around 4:45 a.m., with a search warrant, and stayed in Bravo's room for about two hours collecting evidence.

Detectives came back on Monday and grabbed one final item — a gallon of bug spray.

Skipper said he doesn't want to move out of his apartment, where technically Bravo is still a tenant.

Back on the 34th Street wall, where Bravo stenciled the cartoon Reptars, he put a quote, attributed to John Updike — whose name he misspelled.

"Dreams come true. Without that possibility nature would not incite us to have them."

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