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Missing Florida Mom's Ex Was Ordered To Pay Her Lawyers Just Days Before Murder

Marcus Spanevelo, who faces charges related to the murder of his ex, Cassie Carli, had been ordered to pay her lawyers' fees as part of an ongoing acrimonious custody battle just days before she went missing. 

By Megan Carpentier
Missing Florida Mom Is Found Buried In A Barn

A man currently in custody in Tennessee on charges related to his ex's murder was ordered to pay her legal fees in their ongoing, acrimonious custody battle just days before her murder.

Marcus Spanevelo, 34, is currently being held in Tennessee on charges of tampering with evidence, giving false information concerning a missing persons investigation and destruction of evidence. He was arrested on Saturday in Tennessee on a warrant out of Santa Rosa County in Florida, police announced.

Spanevelo's charges relate to the disappearance of his ex, Cassie Carli, 37, who went missing after the scheduled custody swap of their 4-year-old daughter on March 27 in the parking lot of the restaurant Juana’s Pagodas in Navarre Beach, Florida, which is just west of Pensacola. Her family reported her missing on March 28 and, on March 29, her car and purse were found in a parking lot near the restaurant. Her phone, however, was missing; police told reporters on Saturday that Spanevelo had taken and disposed of it, though it has since been recovered.

Carli's body was discovered buried in a shallow grave inside a barn in Springville, Alabama — a town northeast of Birmingham that's nearly 300 miles from where she disappeared — on Sunday.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson told reporters on Sunday that he expected Spanevelo to face more charges after Carli's autopsy was completed. The medical examiner told Pensacola ABC affiliate WEAR on Monday that they had completed the preliminary exam but were waiting on toxicology results to release a cause of death. 

At a preliminary hearing in Tennessee on Monday, Spanevelo refused to waive extradition to Florida on the charges he currently faces, Mobile CBS affiliate WKRG reported.

Missing women Cassi Carli and suspect Marcus Spanevelo

"There are some things that need to be resolved before I'm willing to go that route," he told the judge. "I’m just trying to get ... to make sure my daughter is taken care of with the people that I'm leaving her with."

The 4-year-old is currently staying with Spanevelo's relatives in Tennessee under the auspices of the state's Child Protective Services, Fox News and WKRG reported. Carli's family is reportedly trying to get custody of the girl.

On Monday, Fox News reported that, just nine days before Carli's disappearance, Spanevelo was ordered to pay nearly $6,000 of Carli's legal fees in the ongoing custody battle he had reportedly been waging over Saylor.

In summer 2021, Spanevelo filed legal petitions to hold Carli in contempt of court, as well as a motion for temporary custody, a motion to request daycare attendance, and numerous other petitions, the outlet reported. That August, Cassie Carli's sister, Raeanne Carli, created a GoFundMe to help with her sister's legal bills in the ongoing custody case.

On the page, Cassie Carli wrote that she'd become pregnant with her daugher just two months into her relationship with Spanevelo, which began in July 2017. She alleged he was manipulative and abusive from the beginning, but she ignored what she termed the warning signs.

"During my pregnancy, this man’s abusive control and manipulation escalated," she wrote, according to Fox News. "But having battled infertility in my first marriage, I desperately wanted a family. So, I justified his erratic behavior as long as I could."

Raeanne Carli told The Sun that Cassie Carli broke off the relationship with Spanevelo five months into her pregnancy, but had held out hope that the two could co-parent effectively.

Those hopes were quickly dashed, apparently. On the sisters' GoFundMe page from August 2021, Cassie Carli alleged that Spanevelo had reported her to child services a number of times: He "filed dozens of false police reports" she wrote, according to Fox News, and called CPS "so many times, I nearly came to know most of the staff by name."

Raeanne Carli told The Sun that, amid the ongoing custody battle, Cassie Carli had grown afraid that Spanevelo could escalate what had been his ongoing verbal and emotional abuse.

"She would be on alert" during the custody swaps Raeanne Carlie told the paper, "because he was a rollercoaster, just up and down and unpredictable.

"She would tell me, 'He's got this look in his eye and it's just frightening,'" she added.

On the Sunday that Cassie Carli went missing, her family says the custody swap was scheduled for 7:00 p.m. At 9:40 p.m., according to text messages reviewed by The Sun, her father, Andrew Carli texted Cassie Carli's phone to ask where she was.

"I'm freaking out case call me as soon as you get this message," it reportedly read.

A response from her phone didn't ease his mind.

"I'm sorry, car was acting up and I broke my phone. Marcus is working on it. I will stay at his place tonight."

Neither Andrew nor Raeanne Carli believes that Cassie Carli sent that message.

"If she was having troubles, she would never seek help from him, that's just crazy," Raeanne told The Sun. "She would walk next door to the restaurant before she asked him for anything."

It was the last anyone heard from Cassie Carli or her phone.

Around 5:30 p.m. the following day, the paper reports that Andrew Carli followed up with Spanevelo, who allegedly replied that his ex-girlfriend had asked him to drop her "in the middle of nowhere in Destin" — which is more than 20 miles east of Navarre Beach — to stay with a girlfriend named Stacey.

"Stacey moved to Alabama a while ago," Andrew Carli replied, according to the Sun. "Cassie would never have you drop her off anywhere. Is her car at your house?"

Spanevelo allegedly said that Cassie Carli's automobile was still in Navarre, where it was later found, and he had left with their daughter.

Her family reported her missing.

Two days later, on March 30, police spoke to Spanevelo in the Birmingham area, according to WKRG and notified Alabama's child services of the presence of his daughter, according to the Alabama Media Group.

Spanevelo was arrested 220 miles away, in Lebanon, Tennessee on Saturday April 2. His daughter was with him.

It's currently unclear whether, if he is directly charged in Cassie Carli's death, those charges would be filed in Florida or Alabama, the Alabama Media Group reported.

The Springville, Alabama barn — which is located on a residential property — in which Cassie Carli's body was found is said to have been tied to Spanevelo, though police have not yet said how. WEAR reported that the listed owner in county records is Outtabounds LLC, which uses a phone number in common with a company called the ESB Group, a local audiovisual services company. The Sun reports that Spanevelo was working as a subcontractor to a Birmingham-area audiovisual company