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A Florida man has been charged with murder following the tragic discovery of a beloved teen’s body.
Charlie Roberts Jr., 18, vanished in Lakeland, Florida on Feb. 23 and his family reported him missing shortly thereafter, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release. The teen’s cell phone history led investigators to the Green Swamp Wildlife Management Area, located a little more than 30 miles away.
Investigators used drones, ATVs, K-9’s and a helicopter to search the swampy area the day after Roberts vanished. It was during that search that they were able to locate and recover Roberts’ body.
“The preliminary cause of death was determined to be homicide by firearm,” investigators wrote.
Detectives conducted interviews and followed up on leads before narrowing down their suspect to David Anthony Gracia, 19, of Lakeland, who allegedly was the last person that Roberts was seen with alive.
He surrendered himself to investigators on Friday. He faces first-degree murder charges and is currently being held without bond as he awaits trial. It’s not clear if he has an attorney.
"I want the person to be prosecuted to the fullest, of course," Roberts’ cousin William Gamble told local outlet WTVT. “This was a family member, a child, nobody deserves death.”
Gamble told the publication that Roberts, despite his young age, stepped up to the plate to help his family following his mother’s recent death.
"This is somebody that everybody loved. We all loved him, we all worried about him," Gamble said.
Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to call the Sumter County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division at (352)-569-1680 or Crimeline at 1-(800)-423-TIPS.
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