GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A teenager arrested in the case of a missing University of Florida student faced a judge Tuesday as police, family members and friends continue to search a wooded area of Gainesville for 18-year-old Christian Aguilar.
Gainesville police say 18-year-old Pedro A. Bravo, Aguilar's childhood friend, was arrested Monday afternoon on third-degree felony charges of depriving a victim of a crime of medical treatment. He was ordered held on $100,000 bail.
Aguilar's family and Bravo's parents were at Tuesday's hearing, where Aguilar's mom begged Bravo to speak up.
"One of the things that I thought was important was that he saw my family there," said Carlos Aguilar, Christian's father. "The first phone call that I made it was to Pedro's father, OK, and we keep a line of communication because my only desire is that he tells me where my son is at and that we can narrow down the look for my son."
While initially called a person of interest, police spokesman Ben Tobias said Tuesday that Gainesville police do not see any difference between person of interest and suspect.
Gainesville police release this surveillance photo they believe shows Christian Aguilar at Best Buy on Thursday.
Police told the Gainesville Sun that Bravo has given them three versions of what happened. In one version, they just talked. In another, he hit Aguilar and then left. The other version has Bravo beating Aguilar unconscious before leaving him in a parking lot.
Standing by Aguilar's father Tuesday afternoon, Aguilar's girlfriend, Erika Friman, who also previously dated Bravo, disputed claims the fight was over her.
"Confused and very hurt from this whole situation that something like this would even happen," Friman said. "I knew both of them throughout high school, and they were both very -- they were good friends."
Tobias says Bravo has taken investigators to several locations where he says he had been with Aguilar. Nothing was found at those locations.
On Tuesday morning, police set up a command post for search efforts at Forest Park at the intersection of S.W. 43rd Street and S.W. 20th Avenue. Police say they have executed several search warrants and are using cellphone data and other leads to determine what happened to Aguilar.
Police say Aguilar may be disoriented or seriously injured and may not be able to seek help. Aguilar was last seen wearing a blue-gray hoodie and light-colored jeans.
Aguilar's family traveled from Miami-Dade on Friday to join the search. They say they're holding onto hope that he is still alive and will be found safely.
Friends and family searched the wooded area Tuesday for Aguilar's cellphone, escorted by police into areas where they've received some cellphone data, along with other leads from people calling in tips.
Police set up a command post at Forest Park, organizing all of the volunteers there, including hundreds of people who drove up from Miami to help search and offer support for Aguilar's family.
"I consider him one of my brothers, and I have to -- I have to do whatever I can to find him," said Eduardo Vilchez, one of Aguilar's friends.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Gainesville Police Department at 352-393-7670.
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