Parents of missing UF student want to talk to suspect

Pedro Bravo charged in connection with Christian Aguilar's disappearance

Published On: Sep 27 2012 11:16:39 AM EDT   Updated On: Sep 27 2012 07:00:47 PM EDT
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -

The parents of missing University of Florida student Christian Aguilar says they want to talk to the suspect in their son's disappearance.

Aguilar's father, Carlos Aguilar, said his priority Thursday was to try to arrange for his wife to go to the Alachua County jail and talk to Pedro Bravo and his parents. He said Bravo denied visitation from Christian's brother and girlfriend, whom Bravo previously dated and whom many have speculated the friends' argument was over.

"At the beginning, I wanted to go, but I don't think I'm the appropriate person because of the feelings," Aguilar said. "I need someone that can get the information that we need, and I think that's my wife, so she is the one that is going to be going."

Aguilar said he met with the Gainesville police chief and mayor Thursday morning, and he feels in his heart good news is coming.

"Today is, you know, more clear day, more beautiful day than yesterday, even though I still haven't seen my son, but it's still hope, more hope that I'm going to soon, soon get closer to him."

Aguilar said reassurance from police made for a good start to the day.

"The chief wanted to reassure the family that there are people working literally around the clock, behind the scenes to push these search people into correct areas," Gainesville police spokesman Ben Tobias said. "There is a frustration because we, you know, a lot of us out here are law enforcement officers, we're also parents, too. You know, behind the badge is a person, and it's very frustrating that we have a family out here that is missing their child today."

On Thursday afternoon, investigators said no new evidence had been discovered, and they were set to relocate their command post Thursday night to Santa Fe College Institute of Public Safety.

On Wednesday, police said Bravo had bought duct tape and a shovel several a few days before Aguilar went missing.

"The indication also is that he bought the shovel or the tape -- doesn't mean that he was going to use it against this one, but it's a possibility and we have to look up possibilities," Aguilar said. "It's something I was not expecting, because this can indicate premeditation."

Police also released a stock photo of the shovel. Police haven't found the shovel.

"The news of these items has obviously filtered through the search crowd, but I think that may have enhanced some of their wanting to get out there and find him as quickly as possible," Tobias said.

Bravo is charged with depriving a victim of medical care, a third-degree felony.

"I saw that that's not the Pedro I knew," said Carlos Aguilar. "That's a criminal. My question I would ask to Pedro? And my answer is, 'Where you left my son?'"

According to investigators, Aguilar and Bravo got into a fight last Thursday. Bravo told police he beat Aguilar up and left him by a field on the UF campus, but has not said much since, according to detectives.

"The police doesn't have the certainty of imminent death," said Carlos Aguilar.

Aguilar added that he believes his son is still alive.

Tobias said the last signal from Aguilar's cellphone was at 8:14 p.m. Thursday before it was turned off. The cellphone hasn't been located.

Surveillance video from a Best Buy in Gainesville showed Bravo and Aguilar together about 3 p.m. Thursday so Aguilar could buy Kanye West's newest CD, police said. Police haven't found the CD.

Law enforcement from South Florida aid in search

Doral police officers headed to Gainesville to assist in the search on Wednesday. Six officers left with K9s and all-terrain vehicles.

Miami-Dade County sent members of its Fire-Rescue K9's Urban Search and Rescue team and police canine team to help in the search on Thursday.

K9 officers from Sweetwater police have been helping with the search since the weekend.

"If he's buried or not, the dogs will find him," said one officer.

The search resumed Thursday morning. Investigators estimate that at least 10 square miles of wooded areas contained in the city of Gainesville have been searched by foot. They said other areas have been covered by helicopter, ATV, K9 and Mounted Patrol units.

Among the local, state and federal agencies assisting with the searches and investigation are the following:

FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, U.S. Marshals Service, Alachua County Sheriff's Office, University of Florida Police Department, Miami Dade Fire Rescue, Miami Dade Police Department, Doral Police Department, Miramar Fire Rescue, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, Sweetwater Police Department, Brevard County Sheriff's Office, Medley Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, Lafayette County Sheriff's Office, Cedar Key Police Department, Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Glades County Sheriff's Office, Putnam County Sheriff's Office, Levy County Sheriff's Office, Texas Equusearch, and Central Florida Search and Rescue.

On Wednesday afternoon, Aguilar's father asked anyone who knows what happened to his son to come forward.

Tips about what happened to Christian should be made by calling 352-393-7670.