Bravo, an 18-year-old Santa Fe College student, has been indicted by an Alachua County grand jury on murder and kidnapping charges. He remains in the Alachua County Jail.
Arrested four days after Aguilar’s disappearance, Bravo later told police he beat Aguilar and left him bleeding and barely breathing in a parking lot. He said the two had a dispute over Aguilar’s girlfriend, who Bravo dated previously.
But police never found any evidence of the fight or signs of Aguilar in a massive search that spanned the southwest section of the city. Day after day, hundreds of people — most of whom never met Aguilar — showed up along with police agencies, cadaver dogs and mounted units from across Florida. Gov. Rick Scott joined the search two weeks ago.
They crisscrossed woods and marshes, parking lots and alleys for any sign of Aguilar. Even as the search grid shifted and the headquarters changed location, volunteers came, from students to soldiers to grandparents.
“While some people still hoped to find Christian alive, the unfortunate reality is going to sink in,’’ said Gainesville police spokesman Ben Tobias. “I’m glad the family is finally going to get some closure.”
The case drew national attention and inspired a Facebook page — now with more than 14,000 followers — to spread the news about Aguilar and support his family.
For those who didn’t know him, they learned that Aguilar was a bright, popular teen who walked on the University of Florida’s campus with dreams of becoming a biomedical engineer. He loved YouTube videos, reruns of Scrubs and the character Iron Man.
Just Thursday, three vigils were held concurrently: in Miami, Gainesville and Cali, Colombia, the western city where Aguilar’s family is originally from.
And on Saturday as the grim news spread, some gathered at Doral’s J.C. Bermudez Park for another candlelight vigil, including Diego Aguilar, Christian’s uncle.
Parents, children and community leaders marched around a pond in Aguilar’s honor.
“We’re all saddened and taken aback from this,” said Douglas Rodriguez, principal of Doral Academy Preparatory School. “Christian was excellent, he was one of the best.”
Organized mostly via Facebook, students and parents sold t-shirts, food and admissions bracelets, the proceeds of which will go to the family.
“I know they’re trying to be strong,” said Stephanie Rincon, a Doral Academy student who helped organize the event. “It’s been a struggle."
Rincon is one of many students who traveled to Gainesville to search for Aguilar. “It was hard because you go up there thinking that you will find something,” she said.
In Gainesville, William H. Russell Jr., a minister who led the city’s vigil, said this: “We learned so much about Christian. This is a great loss, someone who any one of us would be proud to know.’’
Russell knows something about the pain of the unknown. His own son, 16 at the time, ran away for three months. He still remembers the grueling routine of passing out fliers and imagining the worst.
“We were touched by Christian,’’ he said. “People who did not know each other went searching for him and they returned and hugged and cried together and prayed together and hoped that somehow he would be found alive.’’
Miami Herald staff writer Diana Moskovitz and Mike Finch II, as well as Chris Alcantara and Benjamin Brasch of The Independent Florida Alligator in Gainesville contributed to this story.