Florida sheriff: Suspects in murders of 3 teens in Marion County drove off in victim's vehicle
MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods released new information on Thursday in the hunt for the people behind the murders of three teenage friends.
"We have suspects. We have more than two suspects in mind and we are getting closer and closer," Sheriff Woods told FOX 35.
Detectives said the three teenagers – who were found shot to death between Thursday and Saturday last week in separate locations – knew each other and the case may have connections to what Woods called a "wannabe gang." Sheriff Woods added that the idea that this was the work of a serial killer has been completely ruled out.
"We're trying to determine what led up to this, why is it they did it. And we're getting tons of leads and tons of information," he said.
Last Thursday, a 16-year-old girl, later identified as Layla Silvernail, was found laying on the side of a road near Forest Lakes Park in Ocklawaha, Florida. She had been shot and was taken to the hospital in critical condition, where she later died.
On Friday, Marion County deputies responded to SE 94th Street and SE 188th Court and found a 17-year-old boy with gunshot wounds laying on the side of the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was being withheld at the request of her family, the sheriff's office said.
MORE NEWS: Florida teacher fired over 'inappropriate' lesson: 'I didn't do anything wrong'
On Saturday, deputies responded to the area of Malauka Loop and Malauka Loop Trace regarding a vehicle that was partially submerged at the edge of the lake. Inside the vehicle, deputies found a third person – a 16-year-old girl – who had been shot and killed. Her name has not been released.
During a live interview on Thursday with FOX 35, Sheriff Woods said that the car of the first victim was seen on surveillance video prior to the incident and moments afterwards. He said a witness who called in said they heard gunshots and then saw the vehicle role and strike the dumpster where the first victim was found.
"The vehicle drove off and we know the first victim's body was at the dumpster. So we can only preclude that the suspects at that time fled the scene in the victim's vehicle," Sheriff Woods said.
He's asking that anybody that saw anything during that timeframe to come forward with information. There is a $5,000 reward being offered for information leading to an arrested, according to the Florida Sheriff's Association.