Monday, August 12, 2019

The Disappearance & Murder of Christian Aguilar

Christian Aguilar (left) with Erika Friman
18 year olds Erika Friman and Christian Aguilar had been dating for just a few months when Christian was tragically murdered on September 20th, 2012. Erika and Christian met while attending high school in Miami, but at that time, they were just friends. Their friendship blossomed into a relationship during the fall of 2012, shortly after they both relocated from Miami to Gainesville for college. Prior to dating Christian, Erika dated Pedro Bravo (pictured with her below); another student from their Miami high school who also happened to be one of Christian’s close friends.

Erika and Pedro Bravo when they were dating
Erika and Pedro began dating as sophomores. Erika tried to break up with Pedro for the first time before the end of their senior year in high school. At the time, they planned to go to college in two separate locations and Erika felt that her life was moving in a different direction. Pedro refused to accept their break up and made threats that things would “never be the same” if they broke up. This scared Erika, and she kept dating him throughout the summer of 2012 until she was finally able to cut it off for good when she moved to Gainesville to attend Sante Fe Community College. Pedro was devastated by the breakup, and many of his friends noted that he seemed very depressed during the weeks following their split.

Once Erika and Christian began to date, they decided to keep the relationship hidden from Pedro as they felt he was not ready to learn that his close friend was now dating his ex. In the beginning, this secret was easy to keep, since Erika and Christian were 340 miles away from their hometown and from Pedro. However, just a few weeks into the first semester, Pedro announced that he, too, had moved to Gainesville and enrolled in Santa Fe Community College. Despite this, the couple still attempted to keep their relationship a secret. Unbeknownst to them, Pedro actually already knew about Erika and Christian’s relationship.

Erika learned through various mutual friends that Pedro was still very depressed, even suicidal, over their break up. This worried her, and she began to periodically reach out to him. Erika said that Pedro asked her numerous times about her relationship with Christian, and that she denied dating him each time. Since Christian was attending a separate university, it was several weeks after Pedro moved to Gainesville before the two of them finally crossed paths. 

On September 20th, 2012, Pedro reached out to Christian and asked him if he wanted to meet up at a Wal-Mart to buy video games. According to Erika, Christian did not really want to meet up with Pedro because he felt uncomfortable about the whole situation, but he still agreed to meet up with Pedro because he was his old friend. Surveillance footage (pictured below) from the Gainesville Wal-Mart corroborates that the two boys did, in fact, meet up at Wal-Mart that evening. However, Christian never returned to his dorm room that night, and was reported missing the following day after he did not show up for classes.

Christian and Pedro at Wal-Mart
When investigators initially questioned Pedro, he denied any knowledge about Christian’s disappearance. He told them that he dropped Christian off that night and never saw him again. Later, Pedro’s story changed–he then told investigators that he found out about Christian’s relationship with Erika, punched him in the face, and then drove away. Investigators later found Christian’s backpack in Pedro’s bedroom and Christian’s blood in Pedro’s car. After they confronted Pedro about this, he changed his story yet another time. This time, Pedro said that he and Christian got into a violent fight and that Pedro left Christian unconscious on the side of the road. On September 24th, 2012, Pedro was arrested and charged with depriving a crime victim of medical care.

As the case against Pedro was being built, investigators found out more details about his obsession with Erika and his desire to have Christian out of the picture. A journal found in Pedro’s bedroom revealed that Pedro knew about Christian and Erika’s relationship prior to September 20th. The journal also revealed that Pedro desperately wanted Christian gone. Additionally, receipts show that Pedro bought duct tape and a shovel on September 19th, the day before Christian’s disappearance. After these discoveries, Pedro was charged with Christian’s murder. Pedro continued to maintain his innocence, even after Christian’s body was found in a wooded area on October 13th, 2012. An autopsy revealed that he had been strangled.

Pedro went to trial in August 2014. His defense maintained one of Pedro’s original claims that he abandoned Christian after hitting him, and that Christian was still conscious afterwards. The jury did not buy this and ultimately found Pedro guilty of all charges. He was sentenced to life in prison. 
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