(FLORIDA) — Two juveniles are in custody in connection with the murders of three teenagers in the “rural, tight-knit community” of Ocklawaha, Florida, the sheriff said Friday, adding that the third suspect, also a juvenile, remains at large.
The first victim, 16-year-old Layla Silvernail, was found shot on the side of a road on March 30, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said.
The next day, about a half mile away, a 17-year-old boy was discovered on the side of a road, also fatally shot, the sheriff said.
One day later, Silvernail’s car was found partially submerged in a pond about 9 miles from where she had been found, the sheriff said. The third victim, a 16-year-old girl, was found inside the trunk with a gunshot wound, according to the sheriff.
The three victims were all associated with gangs and were all involved in committing burglaries and robberies, Woods said at a news conference Friday.
At one point, the three victims and three suspects were all in Silvernail’s car, and the suspects then “turned on our three victims and murdered them,” Woods said.
The sheriff said robbery was the motive.
The suspects “fled the scenes, but left a lot of evidence in their wake,” Woods said, adding that the two juveniles in custody have been arrested for first-degree murder.
“They took a life without thought. They deserve the full extent of the law,” Woods said.
Russell Pierce, CEO of Southeastern Fastpitch, called Layla Silvernail “a caring young lady, an amazing athlete, and a cherished teammate to so many young girls.”
“She was a softball player from a young age and played for many teams in both recreation and travel softball,” Pierce said in a statement. “She was known for uplifting new and younger teammates and encouraging them to play hard and believe in themselves. She was truly a gifted softball player.”
The identities of the other two victims have not been released.
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