JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police announced early Saturday that they have charged two University Christian School students in Wednesday's slaying of a 17-year-old classmate, Makia Coney.
Charles Roy Southern, 17, and Connor Julian Pridgen, 16, turned themselves in Friday night. After being interviewed by detectives, each was charged with one count of murder.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Lt. Larry Schmitt said Southern and Pridgen left campus about 3:15 p.m. with Coney in their pickup truck. After riding around, they went to a secluded area off Powers Avenue about 3 miles from the school.
Schmitt said each of the boys shot Coney in the head.
Police said the boys returned to University Christian campus by 4:15 p.m., about an hour before Coney was reported missing. About two hours later, a bicyclist reported seeing Coney's body in a drainage ditch along Powers Avenue, not far from Wolfson High School.
Schmitt said the pair were friends of Coney. While police said they both admitted to killing Coney, there was no clear motive for the crime. Schmitt said there was no indication that the victim was sexually molested.
"The situation is a parent's worst nightmare, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the girl's family," Schmitt said.
Southern and Pridgen appeared before a judge Saturday morning and were ordered held without bond. Southern's parents were in the courtroom, but did not want to answer any questions.
Schmitt said the investigation continues into where the two teenagers got the guns used in the slaying.
Coney's family issued a statement Saturday morning thanking "the detectives and investigators who helped to bring us to this stage in the process."
"The healing continues for us and for our community," the message read. "Through the shadows of death, God has been and is sustaining us. We know that Makia is at rest."
University Christian's pastor and school superintendent, Frank Ciresi, met with reporters Saturday morning. He said it was shocking that students from the school were implicated in Coney's slaying and that the school would continue to cooperate with police in every way.
"(Makia) was a shining light in our halls every day and our hearts will grieve for her family for a long time," Ciresi said. "We continue to be in prayer for her family as they deal with this senseless tragedy."
Ciresi said the school will continue efforts to help the 700 students with their grief.
State Attorney Angela Corey released a statement after the arrests saying it is her policy to charge juveniles who commit violent crimes in adult felony court, and her office plans to do that with Southern and Pridgen on Tuesday.
"The murder of Makia Coney, coming on the heels of Somer Thompson?s murder and in the midst of the trial of those alleged to have killed Dreshawna Davis, leaves our community grieving and bewildered," Corey wrote." These murders were brutal and senseless and directed at innocent children and young women."
Coney's funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at the Southside Church of God In Christ. A fund in Makia Coney's name has been setup at Vystar Credit Union.
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