GAINESVILLE (CBS4) – The Alachua County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed that remains found in a wooded area about 20 miles outside Cedar Key on Friday are those of Christian Aguilar.
The Medical Examiner said they used dental records to make a positive identification. Family and friends held for a memorial service Monday night in Gainesville to celebrate Christian’s life.
“It was confirmed that the remains found in Levy county, it was my son’s,” said his father Carlos Aguilar on the church steps, “so right now, we’re just going to start with our grieving.”
At the church service, the family thanked the friends and total strangers in Gainesville who stood by them for nearly a month, tirelessly searching by their side, or there just give a hug when they needed it.
“We just wanted them to know that he’s finally somewhere safe,” said friend Yolando Gonzalez. “Where no harm can get to him and he can just flourish.”
“I think it’s really important for the rest of the community to have a chance, not to learn about Christian from this tragedy, but to learn about him for such an amazing human being that he was,” said family friend Angie Lapiana.
The parents of Christian Aguilar trekked eight miles to the site where the remains were found on Sunday morning to have a private moment.
“We just wanted to know the last place that my son was,” said Carlos. “Making sure that we understand what he went through and also cry it out and give honor to my son.”
Christian’s friend Pedro Bravo is accused of killing him sometime after the two were captured on a surveillance video at a Gainesville Best Buy on September 20th. Forty miles down the same road Best Buy is located on the body was found by a couple of hunters. It was eight miles into the woods.
CBS4’s Ted Scouten was told the shoes and pants on the body matched what Christian was last seen wearing, and that there was duct tape on the scene. Police said Bravo bought duct tape and a shovel a few days before Christian disappeared.
“There was a clearing in the tress, there was direct light, moon light, sunlight,” said Lapiana. “It was very close to God there.”
A volunteer with the Levy County Sheriff’s Office said the guys who found the body were visibly shaken by their gruesome find.
“They were panic-stricken,” Fred Oliver told Scouten. “Very scared. They came out they were sweating from panic. (It’s) something they will never forget.”
According the Oliver, the two were out looking for firewood in the area when they smelled a foul odor. When they got closer, they found a shallow grave covered with twigs and rocks. That’s when they realized they were not looking at animal remains.
“(It was) the obvious remains of a human, they just backed up and said, ‘This is more than just an animal’,” said Oliver. “They just saw the obvious cranium area.”
That grave was about 20 feet off a dirt road, a densely wooded section of land.
“Someone was desperate to get back in there,” said Oliver. “It’s sort of like going back a hundred years, to the frontier days, pioneers trying to homestead of piece of land, like in the jungle.”
At the grave site there were obvious shovel marks. Oliver said it’s not easy to dig in dirt in that area because the earth is filled with lime rock and roots which makes it nearly impossible to manually dig very deep.
“It’s as if someone tried to unsuccessfully try to dispose of the remains,” said Oliver.
Aguilar’s body has been moved to a lab where experts will search for evidence of trauma.
Christian’s body is expected to be released to his parents later this week. They plan to bring him home to Miami for a funeral and burial.