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Authorities speak on apparent suicide of girl, uncle

St. Johns County deputies suspect teenager went voluntarily with uncle

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A 14-year-old who attended Gamble Rodgers Middle School was found shot to death Monday on Navajo land in New Mexico, along with her 31-year-old uncle.

Authorities said a St. Augustine man and his 14-year-old niece were found dead with what appeared to be self-inflicted gunshot wounds inside an SUV with Florida plates at the end of a car chase across the Southwest.

According to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, Benjamin Edwards III led police on a chase after stealing gas from a station in southwestern Colorado. Police said shots were fired from the suspects' vehicle during the pursuit.

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"The officers involved in the pursuit were more concerned at the moment in getting the vehicle to stop. They could not fire, basically, because of the speeds they were going, in a safe manner," Lt. Kyle Lincoln, of the San Juan County Sheriff's Office, said. 

New Mexico authorities said both suspects were found with gunshot wounds inside their mouths.

St. Johns County booking photo of Benjamin Edwards III
St. Johns County booking photo of Benjamin Edwards III

Edwards (pictured, left from April 29, 2015, arrest in St. Johns County) and his teenage niece, also of St. Augustine, disappeared May 4. 

According to a police report, the young girl stole her father's handgun from his shed one day before she was reported missing.

Deputies with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office told News4Jax they suspected Edwards and his niece were together, and there were indications of an inappropriate relationship between the two. 

News4Jax was told the teenager was a chronic runaway. Edwards had an extensive arrest record. His most recent arrest was last month for robbery and burglary.


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