Family believes body is missing UF student

Police: Human remains match description of Christian Aguilar

Published On: Oct 13 2012 05:10:50 AM EDT   Updated On: Oct 15 2012 11:02:12 AM EDT
Benefit-for-Aguilar
FLORIDA -

The father of missing University of Florida student Christian Aguilar believes a body matching the teenager's description is his son, he said at a press conference over the weekend.

Aguilar traveled from Miami to Gainesville Saturday to identify his son's body after investigators told him two hunters found human remains in Levy County.

"Our prayers have been answered and heard, and we want to wait until the authorities confirm it," said Carlos Aguilar. "We want to, as a family, thank every single person that supported our family during these horrible times, during this pain, during this agony."

Meantime, in South Florida, more than 200 people packed into an auditorium at FIU's College of Music Sunday night for a benefit concert to remember Aguilar.

"Most of the people who went to Doral Academy are musicians so I thought what a better way to remember him than by throwing a concert", said Suanay Hernandez, who organized the event.

Hernandez attended Doral Academy Senior High and was a close friend to Aguilar.

Christian Aguilar

Dozens of performers sang, danced and played instruments during the three hours of musical performances. Attendees and performers were asked to pay $5 or $10 to attend or participate in the event.
The money raised would be sent to Christian's family to help them with expenses for funeral arrangements.

"It uses music to bring everyone in the community together and it all benefits the Aguilar family and the search for their son Christian", said Roger Sanchez, another former classmate who performed a song he recently wrote about his friend's disappearance.

"It describes how everyone from Doral Academy is feeling."

The show went on despite word that human remains found over the weekend near Gainesville match his description.

"I don't know when they're going to release him to us but we are waiting," said Diego Aguilar, Christian's uncle.

"In your heart you believe it's him?" asked Local 10's Terrell Forney.

"Yes," replied Diego Aguilar.

Although hearts are heavy for a freshman who won't get the chance to return home to South Florida, the strong show of support gives strength to a family in mourning.

"All the music and the participation, they were magnificent", said Diego Aguilar.

Authorities told the Gainesville Sun that Aguilar's remains were found off a rural dirt road at about 2 p.m. Friday.

Authorities said they found blue Vans shoes, duct tape and blue jeans with the decomposed remains.

The clothes matched the description of what Aguilar was wearing on Sept. 20, the last day he was seen alive. A source close to the investigation said the remains still need to be identified through forensic methods.

According to a post on an Aguilar family Facebook page, forensics won't confirm any information until Tuesday.

However, Fred Oliver, a volunteer with the Levy County Sheriff's Office, told the Sun that authorities are almost positive of the findings.

"They're almost sure they know who it is," Oliver said.

Oliver said that hunters discovered a body on the grounds of the Gulf Hammock Hunting Club, a private club with about 300 members.

The men found the remains eight miles off State Road 24 on Parker Boulevard, about six miles west of Otter Creek.

"Two young fellas were looking for firewood by themselves," Oliver said. "They picked up the scent, the odor of something dead."

Oliver said the young men thought they had stumbled onto the remains of a dead deer, and maybe they could get a set of antlers. What they found was a decomposed, partially buried body.

"It was obviously human," Oliver said, adding that it was near the dirt road.

The men called the Levy County Sheriff's Office, and Oliver said he got the call about the discovery at 2:30 p.m., with the Gainesville Police Department notified shortly thereafter.

In addition to the Levy County Sheriff's Office, GPD detectives, forensics, Florida Fish and Wildlife and the 8th District Medical Examiners Office responded to the scene. A caravan of more than seven vehicles could be seen departing on the dirt road at around 8 p.m.

The case, which attracted national media attention, went from a disappearance to a fight and abandonment to a murder investigation.

Pedro Bravo's first appearance Aguilar's high school classmate, Pedro Bravo, 18, was indicted for first-degree murder on Tuesday. Bravo has told police he beat up Aguilar in a dispute over a girl and left him by a field near UF's campus.

Aguilar was last seen with Bravo in a Best Buy store on Sept. 20, police said. He was seen in a photo leaving the store wearing blue shoes and jeans.

Crews of volunteers and law enforcement from all over Florida have pitched in to search for Aguilar, but police recently stopped taking volunteers in the search because the mission had switched from a rescue to a recovery.

On Thursday night, concurrent candlelight vigils were held in Miami and Gainesville. Aguilar's body had not yet been recovered, and friends and family still clung to hope.

When asked about the incident late Friday night, GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said he knew it was going to be a bittersweet time for friends and family of Aguilar.

"While some people still hoped to find Christian alive, the unfortunate reality is going to sink in," Tobias said. "I'm glad the family is finally going to get some closure."