Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Abduction of Carlie Brucia

Second Search

Fearing criminal culpability, John Smith dropped a dime on his brother, calling the FBI.

At 9 p.m. that evening, Smith, Mrs. Davis, Sarasota Detective Toby Davis and FBI agents David Street and Leo Martinez returned to the church property for another search.

Still speaking with his brother, Joe Smith guided the group by phone from his jail cell. He said he remembered placing the body between two trees. The odd entourage focused on a small grove of Brazilian pepper trees not far from the church.

Finally, at near midnight, the body of Carlie Brucia revealed itself, in the grove beyond a chain-link fence. Patricia Davis wept so loudly that her son could hear her through the phone.

Coroners move Carlie's body.
Coroners move Carlie's body.

"John, tell mom I'm sorry," Joe Smith said. "I was not thinking right."

Smith may have been sorry, but forensic examination of the body indicated that had been merciless toward the child.

She had been raped vaginally and orally and was strangled by ligaturea garrote twisted tight around her neck. As a final insult, the body had then been dragged over scarring surfacesblacktop, crushed rock, palmetto shrubsto its makeshift resting place.

Coroners reckoned that she had been killed on the night of her abduction.

Carlie Brucia had been the archetype child victim of a stranger abduction: an adolescent female who was raped then soon murdered. 

Dr. Russell Vega, the medical examiner, said Carlie fought for her life. He found cuts and bruises on her arms, legs and left heel. She had struggled mightily in a losing battle with her attacker.

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