18-year-old charged with murder in case of missing University of Florida student

Pedro Bravo told investigators that he'd gotten into an altercation with the missing student.

Story highlights

  • The suspect's family is distraught and worried, one of his lawyers says
  • Christian Aguilar, 18, was last seen September 20 in Gainesville, police say
  • Pedro Bravo told investigators he got into a fight with Aguilar that night and left the scene
  • Police announce that Bravo, who was already in custody, is charged with murder
Police charged an 18-year-old with murder in the case of a University of Florida student last seen eight days ago, a police spokesman said Friday.
Officer Ben Tobias announced that the Gainesville police department charged Pedro Bravo with the death of Christian Aguilar. He did not offer further details.
Ron Kozlowski, one of Bravo's attorneys, told CNN on Friday night that he has "not been presented with any new evidence thus far." Bravo's family is distraught and worried about the murder charge, Kozlowski added.
The 18-year-old Aguilar was last seen about 6 p.m. September 20, according to a police statement.
His body still hasn't been recovered, said Tobias, who urged the public to reach out to authorities with any information on the case.
"We would ... encourage property owners, residential or business, who may have lime rock roads on their property, that were accessible to the general public, to search those properties for any suspicious areas of ground that appear to have been disturbed," Tobias said. "We are also requesting information from anyone who may have seen a suspicious vehicle, likened to a Blue Chevy Blazer, in any remote areas on the night of Thursday, September 20."
Police told Aguilar's family about the murder charge -- and, with it, the presumption the college student was dead -- about an hour before the public announcement, Tobias said.
"Christian's family is heartbroken, as expected," the police spokesman told CNN by e-mail.
Bravo told investigators that he'd gotten into "an altercation with Aguilar" on the night the college student went missing, police said. Bravo then left Aguilar in a parking lot in the central Florida city, prompting police to warn that Aguilar may be disoriented and/or seriously injured.
Aguilar's father told CNN affiliate WCJB that his son disappeared after a fight over a girl.
After talking with police September 21, Bravo was held for mental examination after threatening to harm or kill himself. He was later charged with depriving a victim of medical care, a third-degree felony, and was in custody at the time he was charged with murder, according to Tobias.
Authorities have used helicopters and K-9 units to search for Aguilar, to no avail. The young man's family members, meanwhile, have plastered the area with fliers, taken to Twitter to generate leads and invited a nonprofit search group to help look for him alongside family members and police.
Gainesville police posted a fresh plea Friday night, on the department's Facebook page, asking volunteers to report to the Florida Farm Bureau at 9 a.m. Saturday to resume the search for Aguilar.
Bravo's family initially volunteered to help in the search, only to be politely turned down by Aguilar's family, Kozlowski said.
The lawyer said his client will make his first court appearance Saturday morning. At that time, a judge will assess the case and set bail for Bravo or decline to, thus assuring that the suspect will remain in custody.