UF student's dad says he believes body found is his son
Published: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 8:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 12:11 a.m.
Christian Aguilar will soon be going home.
The father of the University of Florida student who has been missing since Sept. 20 said on Saturday afternoon that he believes the body found Friday in the deep woods of Levy County is his 18-year-old son.
"I just want to make sure that everybody knows that our prayers have been heard. The family believes that Christian has been found, but we will wait until the authorities confirm it," Carlos Aguilar said at a brief news conference. "Our family is going to be grieving until the … confirmation, and at that moment we are going to have the honor of taking Christian back home and have his funeral."
Christian's mother, Claudia, sobbed on her husband's shoulder as Carlos thanked the many people who volunteered to search fields, woods, ditches and dirt roads across much of Gainesville and other parts of Alachua County for Aguilar.
What apparently is his body was found eight miles down a limestone road not far from Cedar Key on Friday afternoon by two hunters who smelled something, followed the scent and came to the partially buried body.
Shoes and clothing that appeared to be Aguilar's were found at the scene, where deer scampered by while investigators were hunting for evidence.
Police said on Saturday that investigators were at the scene again to continue looking for evidence. Officers said they didn't know how long the search will take.
Meanwhile, a high school friend of Aguilar's, Pedro Bravo, 18, is in the Alachua County jail on a murder indictment. Authorities allege, in part based on statements given by Bravo, that he beat Aguilar until he was unconscious. Bravo was charged with first-degree murder before authorities had the body.
Bravo's attorney, Ron Kozlowski, would not say Saturday whether Bravo has been told that Aguilar's body likely has been found.
"I am not going to go into what we have or have not been talking to him about," Kozlowski said, adding that having a body "would obviously change the case for the prosecution and the defense. How it changes exactly, we're not prepared to talk about."
The Aguilars did not take questions at the news conference, where they were joined by other family members, friends and volunteers who helped search.
Also joining them was Patrick Sessions, whose daughter, UF student Tiffany Sessions, disappeared on Feb. 9, 1989, when she went for a walk in southwest Gainesville.
Patrick Sessions said after the news conference that he reached out to the Aguilar family to give support.
"This is a replay of Tiffany. The only difference is, they got a miracle and I didn't. Of course I am still hoping for one, but the odds are a lot longer 23 years later," said Sessions, who has written a manual on searching for missing people. "I am just happy for them that they found him. It's a huge relief to the family, though obviously they are crushed that he is dead."
State Attorney Bill Cervone said Saturday the official identification will not happen until the state medical examiner completes an autopsy, which he believes is scheduled for Tuesday.
Cervone added that the fine-tooth combing for evidence at the scene where the body was found could take a some time.
Finding the body will impact the case against Bravo, Cervone said.
"The Levy County Sheriff's Office is technically in charge because it is their jurisdiction, but I am sure they are deferring to GPD and either GPD has their forensics doing it or they may have called in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement," Cervone said. "I am relieved for this family to be able to have some peace over this, even though it's (a) horrible kind of peace. They at least have some answers. Will it impact the case? Absolutely. It answers questions. What are those answers now? I would be speculating."
Aguilar was a UF freshman from Miami who always wanted to be a Gator and planned on majoring in biomedical engineering.
Both he and Bravo attended the Doral Academy in Miami, and Aguilar was dating a former school girlfriend of Bravo, a possible factor in the case.
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