Florida detectives are on the hunt for Larry Darnell Peavy, a suspect in the recent murder of a 16-year-old Lake County girl, News 6 Orlando reported.
On Sunday afternoon, Tavares Police Department received a call requesting to check on the wellbeing of 16-year-old Aleaya Maria Jackson.
Jackson’s body later was found in a house located in the 300 block of South Pine Street in Bushnell, nearly 20 miles from the girl’s home.
Sumpter County Police suspect 35-year-old Peavy — an alleged longtime family friend of the girl — for both the murder of Jackson and a related sexual assault, according to a press release.
“We let him stay here,” Aleaya’s mother, Nicole Jackson, told Channel 9. “He stayed here months at a time sometimes.”
Peavy reportedly brought Jackson and her friend to a party at the Bushnell home, where investigators say he beat and sexually assaulted both girls, and murdered Jackson. He then drove the girl to Tavares, where she was able to contact the detectives.
During the night of the incident, Nicole Jackson says she received a disturbing text from Alaeya’s friend.
“The text that she sent said that (Peavy) told her she was not allowed to see Aleaya because Aleaya was unconscious, and he proceeded to take (her) home,” Jackson said. “I knew then in my heart that she wasn’t coming home.”
Jackson says she is having a difficult time accepting that their family friend, Peavy, could do something so horrendous.
“She called him Uncle Larry,” Jackson said. “They had a song together. They were just cool with each other.”
Miachael Lee Jenkins, Aleaya’s father and a coworker of Peavy, said that the suspected killer recently had started making sexually inappropriate comments about his daughter at work.
“The devil just came and took something from me,” Jenkins said. “I’m numb within and it’s only the Holy Spirit that’s keeping me together.”
Police are still searching for Peavy, who was last seen driving in a gray 1997 Nissan Sentra with license tag number 2295UJ.
“I hope you realize you broke the hearts of a lot of people,” Jenkins said about his daughter’s accused murderer.
Anyone with information about the suspect’s whereabouts are urged to contact the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at 352-793-2621 or to remain anonymous call Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).