SARASOTA, Fla. (Feb. 6) - The body of an 11-year-old girl whose abduction was captured by a surveillance camera has been found in a church parking lot and a mechanic has been charged with her murder, officials said Friday.
Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill refused to say where Carlie Brucia's body was found, but a law enforcement source close to the investigation said it was found between 12:45 a.m. and 1 a.m. Friday outside a church not far from the car wash where she was taken.
''Our prayers on behalf of everybody here in Sarasota County go out to the family,'' Balkwill said.
He said Joseph P. Smith, 37, has been charged with her murder. He is believed to be the tattooed man in a mechanic's shirt who was seen in a car wash surveillance video leading Carlie away by the arm Sunday evening, authorities said.
Investigators found the body after negotiations with Smith, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier, authorities had said he was not cooperating.
''We now stand ready to complete our obligation, and assure you that he will pay the ultimate price for what he did to her,'' Capt. Jeff Bell said.
Family and friends had kept vigil outside Carlie's ranch-style house which was decorated with banners and posters reading, ''We love you, Carlie.''
Carlie was described by friends as a beautiful girl who loved actress Jennifer Lopez, going to the mall and hanging out. The youngster was known for greeting friends with warm hugs. She was heading home from a slumber party when she was abducted.
Carlie's friend Natalie Thomas cried after hearing that her classmate's body was found. She remembered Carlie's smile and that she liked to go on walks.
Carlie's family had gone into seclusion Friday and was unavailable for comment.
''There's nothing you can do to make anybody feel better and it's going to hurt for a long, long time,'' said Chuck Chambers, a private investigator who was working with the family.
''I need my daughter home,'' Carlie's mother, Susan Schorpen, had said Thursday. ''She's a very, very important part of this family and community.''
Members of her former Girl Scout troop took a day off from school Wednesday to pass out fliers at shopping centers, canvass neighborhoods and distribute pink ribbons adorned with Carlie's name.
A reward fund of $50,000 was offered for information.
Smith has been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993, according to state records and convicted of drug possession and other charges. He was arrested in 1997 in Manatee County on kidnapping and false imprisonment charges, but was acquitted a year later.
An aide to Smith's public defender, Adam Tebrugge, had declined to comment Thursday.
Carlie was walking home from a friend's house at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday when she took a short cut behind Evie's Car Wash, which was closed for the day.
Car wash owner Mike Evanoff said he checked the security system video Monday after bloodhounds led deputies to the business. The images of Carlie popped up almost immediately when he turned on the system, he said.
''It was cold chills right up my back,'' Evanoff said earlier this week. ''My manager couldn't even look at it. It's an awful feeling.''
Child molestation, kidnapping and murder have become an epidemic in this country. This morning on WRKO I heard Blute and Scotto talking about pushing for stronger legislation against sickos like this, referring to Jeff Curley and other children from our own state who fell victims to these predators. Scotto said that although he was unsure of the circumstances of why Carlie was alone in the first place, he stated an 11 year old is too young to be wandering around on their own unsupervised.
It's so sad for me to think about how even though I grew up in the city I would enjoy a nice walk home from school on my own when I was that age, and even younger; it wasn't that long ago, but it seemed like such a different time then. It's even sadder to think that my own children will never know what that's like.