Missing University of Florida student’s father: Body found, grieving can begin
More than three weeks after his son was last seen, the father of a missing University of Florida student said Saturday the family is ready to begin the grieving process, confident that the 18-year-old’s body has been found.
“We, as a family, believe that Christian has been found and our prayers have been heard,” Carlos Aguilar told reporters, as his tearful wife put her head down on a table and then cried into her husband’s shoulder.
Gainesville Police spokesman Ben Tobias said authorities are looking into a body that was recently found. But it hasn’t been confirmed that this body, found in Levy County, is that of Christian Aguilar.
Carlos Aguilar stressed that his family is waiting on confirmation of the body’s identity. Even so, he said that he believed they’ll soon be able “to bring Christian back home” and have his funeral.
“Our family is going to be grieving until the authorities give us the confirmation,” the father said.
Christian Aguilar, 18, was last seen on September 20.
Eight days later, Pedro Bravo was charged with first-degree murder in the student’s apparent death.
Bravo initially had told investigators he got into “an altercation with Aguilar” the night the college student went missing, police said.
The suspect said he then left Aguilar in a parking lot in the central Florida city, prompting police to warn that Aguilar may have been disoriented and/or seriously injured.
Aguilar’s father told CNN affiliate WCJB that his son disappeared after a fight over a girl.
Bravo, who is also 18, changed his account of what happened “after being confronted with evidence that disputed his initial statements,” Tobias said late last month.
Aguilar’s backpack was found inside a suitcase in Bravo’s closet, according to Tobias. At the time, the police spokesman said that blood found in several locations in Bravo’s vehicle would undergo an expedited analysis and be compared against known DNA samples of Aguilar.
Authorities have used helicopters and K-9 units to search for Aguilar. His relatives plastered the area with fliers, used Twitter to generate leads and invited a nonprofit search group to help look for him alongside family members and police.
On Saturday, Carlos Aguilar made a point to thank “every single person,” including scores of volunteers, who “supported our family during this horrible time, during this pain, during this agony.”
According to CNN affiliate WJXT, hunters in a rural part of Levy County found human remains Friday and notified police in Gainesville, about an hour away.
Credit: CNN. CNN’s John Branch and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.