Florida teen murder suspects reveal to investigators how fatal shootings unfolded: affidavits

Update (April 9): A wanted 16-year-old, one of three juveniles suspected of being connected to the shootings deaths of three teenagers in Marion County, was arrested Saturday, April 8 in Lake County, MCSO said in a Facebook post. The teen was arrested on outstanding warrants, though additional charges are expected, MCSO said.

Original story

The three teenage victims of a triple homicide in Florida were apparently involved in illegal activities with their three suspected killers before the murders, which unfolded in a flurry of gunfire, dumping of bodies and ditching of a car in a pond, court documents reveal.

The two suspects who have been arrested told police how the fatal shootings played out, according to their arrest affidavits.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office said Friday two male suspects, ages 12 and 17, were arrested in the March 30 murders of 16-year-old Layla Silvernail, another 16-year-old girl and an unnamed 17-year-old male.

Police are searching for a third suspect, a 16-year-old boy, whom the 12-year-old suspect said opened fire on the unsuspecting victims, according to the affidavit.

Nefarious plans

In the affidavit, investigators describe the suspects' activities with the victims on the night of March 30, which included driving to a "trap house," smoking, "car hopping," and committing burglaries.

Detectives found photos on a confiscated phone showing one of the victims pictured with the suspects "displaying firearms and ammunition."

CONTINUING COVERAGE: 2 boys arrested, 1 on the run in murders of 3 teens in Marion County, Florida sheriff says

Police said Friday the victims had likely known the suspects for a short time. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said the suspects eventually turned on the victims for an undisclosed reason, resulting in the alleged triple homicide.

Snapchat gun sale setup

A few hours before the killings, at least one of the victims appeared to have been involved in a robbery with the 12-year-old and 17-year-old shooting suspects, according to the affidavit.

An unidentified male told police he agreed over Snapchat to buy a gun through a friend of one of the victims around 6:30 p.m. March 30.

That male said he got into the backseat of Silvernail's white sedan, where "there were two Black males he does not know." Police said they determined those two Black males were likely the 12-year-old and 17-year-old shooting suspects.

The male witness took out $240 — presumably in exchange for the firearm — and one of the Black males in the backseat struck him in the cheek with the barrel of a gun and demanded the money, according to the affidavit.

The witness fled the car and told police one of the suspects fired a shot at him.

Triple shooting

At some point later that evening, the three shooting victims were in Silvernail's car with the 12-year-old and 17-year-old, according to the affidavit. Both of those shooting suspects told police the group then picked up the 16-year-old, whom the 12-year-old said he did not know and who was wearing a ski mask the entire time.

According to the affidavits, Silvernail was driving, the male victim was in the front passenger seat and the other teenage girl was in the trunk smoking, "by her own choice."

The group planned to rob someone for marijuana and was traveling through Ocala, according to the 17-year-old's account.

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The 12-year-old, known by the nickname "35," told police the teens were driving toward Ocklawaha when the 16-year-old pulled out a handgun and shot the two victims who were in the front seats.

Silvernail's car then struck a garbage dumpster in the area of SE 183rd Avenue Road in Silver Springs. The owner of the dumpster called police at 10:48 p.m. and saw Silvernail bleeding.

A woman who lives in the area told police she heard four or five loud "pops" that sounded like gunshots and looked out her window and saw the sedan hit the dumpster, according to the affidavit. She told police a male then got into the driver’s seat and sped away.

The 12-year-old told police he then shot "the female victim," though it was not clear whether he was referring to Silvernail or the other teen girl. He said the 17-year-old forced him to shoot the unnamed girl "or his family would be killed," according to the affidavit.

The 12-year-old told police he did not think one of the victims was dead after he shot her. 

The 17-year-old also told police he shot one of the victims "because she was still alive. She was going to snitch on us all. We was all going to go to jail for life."

The 16-year-old, known as "Reaper," then drove Silvernail's car and stopped to dump the male victim in a ditch, the 12-year-old told police. The three suspects then drove the car to a pond, where it was later found partially submerged.

After the shootings, Silvernail was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

In the following days, investigators found the male victim's body in the ditch and the other teen girl in the trunk of Silvernail's vehicle.

Authorities said they found "voluminous amounts" of the victims' blood inside the vehicle and on one of the victims' phones.

The two juveniles who have been arrested are facing first-degree murder and robbery charges.

On Friday, Woods blamed societal and school failures for the tragedy.

"Our school districts, not just here, across this state and across this nation, need to stop minimizing the actions of their students. Hold them accountable. That's where the failure is," he said.

He said earlier during his press conference he does not know what the solution is, but, "the bad guy's going to get a gun no matter what laws you put in place."

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