“I told them the only way I can have my son back is if Pedro answers more questions,” Carlos Aguilar said. “He may not do that if the parents are not here.”
After learning of Bravo’s purchase of the shovel and duct tape, Carlos Aguilar spoke again with Bravo’s parents.
“I spoke to Pedro’s parents about the new developments. They were very, very upset about the information and that they feel their son is being made out to be a monster,” he said. “As a parent, I had to tell them their son has been lying.”
The Bravos could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Based on Christian Aguilar’s cell phone information, police on Wednesday focused their search on a wooded stretch near the Gainesville Regional Airport.
Between 100 and 200 people have come out daily to help with the search — including students, supporters from South Florida, and police officers from around the state. Also, Texas Equusearch, the organization that launched massive searches for Caylee Anthony, joined the effort Wednesday.
Police said they will now double-back and search some areas again to look for a shovel.
“We’re going to continue the search until we don’t have any fresh information,” said Officer Ben Tobias, Gainesville Police spokesman.
Sam Schaller, 19, a freshman at Santa Fe, scanned the woods Wednesday with a machete, a canteen, a first aid kit and a walking stick, taking a break only to attend English class.
“I didn’t know either of the students, but I just thought if it were me, wouldn’t I want as many people as possible looking for me,” said Schaller, of Sarasota. “It felt like the right thing to do.”
Aguilar was last seen around 3 p.m. on Sept. 20 at a Best Buy store southwest of the university with Bravo. A security camera captured an image of the pair at the store.
Police said Aguilar’s last cell phone activity came at 8:14 that evening, when the phone was turned off. The phone has not been recovered.
Police first interviewed Bravo a day after Aguilar’s disappearance. He told detectives that he fought with Aguilar the night before, punching Aguilar in the face while the two rode in Bravo’s car, according to an arrest report.
Aguilar got out of the car, but Bravo followed him, tripped him, and jumped on Aguilar’s chest and continued beating him, the arrest report says.
Police interrogated Bravo for at least eight hours before he was admitted to a mental health facility under Florida’s Baker Act, Kozlowski said. Police said they had Bravo examined by psychiatrists after he made statements about killing himself. Bravo was transferred on Monday to the Alachua County Jail, where he is being held on $100,000 bail.
Bravo’s lawyers have argued that police are incorrectly applying the law against depriving a crime victim of medical care; they say the law only can apply if there is evidence that Bravo intentionally withheld medical care in an effort to obstruct a criminal investigation, but the police have no evidence that Bravo acted with intent.
Herald staff writer Howard Cohen contributed to this story.