As authorities in Gainesville continued searching for any trace of missing University of Florida student Christian Aguilar, his father on Monday asked the FBI to assist in the case and for volunteers to distribute fliers on campus in hopes that someone saw or heard something that can narrow the search.
Twelve days after Aguilar’s disappearance, police continued following leads including those given by nearly a half-dozen psychics.
Meanwhile, Pedro Bravo, 18, the prime suspect in the disappearance of the Miami-Dade teen, is being held at the Alachua County Jail on first-degree murder charges. He has refused to help police in the search for his one-time best friend.
“Do not give up on my son,’’ Carlos Aguilar said in a statement released Monday. “We need the FBI to join the search for Christian. We need his body to be found to create a solid case and make sure Pedro never walks outside of a jail cell.”
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Aguilar is also asking the university to help disseminate information about the case to its students because some may not be aware of the search for the 18-year-old graduate of Doral Academy Preparatory in West Miami-Dade.
“Someone on campus may have seen Pedro’s truck or my son,’’ he said. “Someone on campus may have the key to finding his body.’’
Gainesville police confirmed the FBI is among several law enforcement agencies already doing analytical work.
On Monday, Miami-Dade Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen asked the agency to get involved.
“The Aguilar family and all who know Christian deserve closure on this tragically sad case. It is my sincere hope that this development will accomplish this,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement.
Aguilar, a freshman, was last seen Sept. 20, at a Best Buy store with Bravo, a friend and former classmate from Doral Academy. Bravo, a student at Santa Fe College, told police he beat Aguilar and left him bloody and barely breathing in parking lot.
Police later found blood in multiple spots in his SUV and Aguilar’s backpack hidden in the closet of his apartment.
Early Tuesday, Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño, the police chief and 10 police officers were to return to Gainesville with 10 ATVs to assist in what has been a massive search covering more than 10 square miles.
“The mayor feels emotionally connected to this case, with sons who are close in age to Christian, so he decided to come back and help in any way he can,’’ said Sweetwater spokeswoman Michelle Hammontree-Garcia said.
Unlike past searches, the 50 officers and 40 volunteers – along with mounted horses and dogs – participating Monday were focused on 25 specific locations based on leads.
Monetary donations to help the family are still being accepted at Doral Academy c/o Christian Aguilar. Donations of machetes, rubber boots and snacks for volunteer searchers can be dropped off in Sweetwater City Hall, 500 SW 109th Pl., between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.
An ecumenical Mass will be held at 8 p.m. Wednesday in memory of Aguilar at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 12800 NW Sixth St. in Miami.
Also, a benefit concert will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at Florida International University’s School of Music, 11200 SW Eighth St., Miami.
To report tips related to the Aguilar case, call 352-393-7670.