Here is the Sheriff’s press statement regarding the case.
6:00 and 11:19 he really speaks.
Authorities have arrested two juveniles and are searching for a third in connection with last week’s triple murder in southeast Marion. All three defendants are charged with first-degree murder.
One defendant is 12 years old. He was taken into custody Thursday at his home.
Another defendant, age 17, was arrested last week by Ocala Police Department officers after the killings had taken place. He was arrested in connection with a different case: a disturbance at his school. He was already in custody when the murder charges were brought. The third defendant, age 16, remained at large Friday. A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his arrest.
School officials said both boys, 12 and 17, attended alternative school. They said they have no records on the 16-year-old enrolling in school.
Interview of 17-year-old defendant
The three victims - two 16-year-old girls and a 17-year-old boy - were shot at the same time on March 30, Sheriff Billy Woods announced Friday during an emotional news conference at the county Emergency Operations Center in Ocala. The bodies were found in separate Ocklawaha locations on March 30, 31 and April 1 not far from each other.
Two of the victims were found laying by roadways, while the third victim was discovered in the trunk of a car that was partially submerged in a body of water.
Woods said the two defendants in custody made incriminating statements about their involvement in the shootings. In the presence of his mother, the 17-year-old told detectives he shot one of the victims, later identified as one of the girls.
“She was still alive. She was going to snitch on us all. We was all going to go to jail for life,” he said, according to the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff’s officials believe the three defendants and the three victims were engaged in vehicle burglaries, a practice known as “car hopping.” In such cases, thieves work an area looking for unlocked vehicles.
Additional details about the case
Woods would not say how many firearms were involved in this case. But he did say that one gun was obtained by the defendants in a vehicle burglary.
Woods said robbery was the motive for the three killings, though he did not elaborate. All six were together at the time of the deaths.
“They took a life without thought. They deserve the full extent of the law,” Woods said during the news conference. At one point, he choked up when thanking his staff and the other law enforcement agencies who are working this case.
Layla Silvernail, one of the 16-year-olds shot and killed, was found in the area of Southeast 183rd Avenue Road by a man near a garbage container on March 30. She was still breathing and an ambulance was called. She was transported to HCA Florida Ocala Hospital.
A woman told deputies she heard several gunshots, looked out her window, and saw a car driving slowly north on Southeast 183rd Avenue Road. The vehicle hit the garbage container.
The vehicle sped away and the woman called her neighbor. The car was described as an older model Chevrolet Cruze, according to an arrest affidavit.
The body of the 17-year-old boy was found lying in the southwestern corner of the intersection of Southeast 188th Court and 94th Street. He was approximately 3 feet from the dirt road. His father was able to identify him when he went to the scene, officials said.
Detectives believe the two defendants in custody as of Friday −the 17-year-old and the 12-year-old −robbed someone on March 30.
Interview with 12-year-old defendant
During their investigation, which included 15 detectives, sheriff’s investigators recovered multiple pieces of evidence including blood, clothing, cellphones and shell casings. They also interviewed people who were familiar with the victims and the defendants.
Deputies arrested the 12-year-old at his residence. He was interviewed with his mother present.
According to the sheriff’s office, the boy said he was picked up at his residence and driven to an apartment complex to get the third defendant.
He said he was forced to shoot one of the victims by the 17-year-old boy. He said he was told to shoot the victim or his family would be killed, according to the sheriff’s office.
Woods specifically thanked the Ocala Police Department, the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals Service, the State Attorney’s Office, and also the public and the media.
Comments from the State Attorney’s Office
Will the State Attorney’s Office prosecute the juveniles in adult court? Chief Assistant State Attorney Walter Forgie declined to say on Friday.
“Our office and State Attorney (Bill) Gladson are in constant communication with Sheriff Woods and his detectives regarding this horrible crime and will aggressively pursue the prosecution of all the involved defendants,” Forgie said. “Given that there is a remaining suspect that has not yet been apprehended, we are limited in what we can publicly comment on at this time. However, as I said, we will aggressively pursue the prosecution of all defendants responsible for these heinous crimes.”
Sheriff’s officials said their agency has had minimal contact with the defendants in the past.
Woods spoke to the mothers of the two defendants who are in custody. He expressed sympathy for them.
While Woods expressed shock and sadness, he also urged the public to help his agency find the third defendant. Anyone with information on the location of the third defendant is urged to call Detective Ryan Stith at [(352) 368-3542](tel:(352) 368-3542), or the Sheriff’s Office at [(352) 732-9111](tel:(352) 732-9111). To remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers of Marion County at (352) 368-STOP (7867) and reference 23-22 in your tip.