FIRST ON FOX: Slain Florida mom Cassie Carli had been planning to apply for a concealed carry permit before her death out of concern for her safety, but had her "guard down" after her ex-boyfriend, who has been charged in connection with her death, had recently grown more cordial, her family tells Fox News Digital.
Carli, 37, had talked with her family about her plans to go through the process of legally owning a concealed weapon because of Marcus Spanevelo’s "unpredictable" behavior – and had talked about doing so just a week before her disappearance, her younger sister, Raeann, told Fox News Digital.
"She had talked to me a week before the disappearance about, you know, ‘Marcus has been pretty cool lately, but I still think I’m gonna go ahead and get that concealed permit," Raeann Carli, 32, said. She acknowledged that she did not know if her sister had even begun the process and added: "She may have just picked up the paperwork."
The 34-year-old man’s history of alleged verbal abuse and manipulation led Cassie to begin to consider obtaining the concealed carry permit, the sister went on. Asked if the couple had been fighting recently, Carli said Spanevelo had recently been acting "cordial."
"No blow-ups at all recently from him," she said. Carli said she believed her sister let her guard down around Spanevelo, the father of Cassie’s 4-year-old daughter, Saylor. "Otherwise, she would have had that concealed weapon, too."
"He has made it clear: ‘You’re not going to win. It’s not going to happen. My way or no way," Raeann continued.
A spokesperson for Tennessee’s Maury County Sheriff’s Office, which currently has custody of Spanevelo, did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for the man’s attorney information on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Florida’s Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, which led the investigation, said they did not have Spanevelo’s attorney information.
"The abuse alone, though – with him filing orders and accusations, telling the doctor … that my sister beats Saylor … false [Child Protective Services] reports – all that, that right there, was mental torture on her," Raeann continued. She said the family was still in the process of being reunited with Saylor, the couple’s young daughter.
Cassie Carli was last seen on the evening of March 27, while meeting Spanevelo, in the parking lot of a beachside restaurant, Juana’s Pagoda, not far from her home in Navarre. Investigators later recovered her vehicle, with her purse inside, and confirmed the couple’s 4-year-old daughter was safe. Her disappearance prompted missing persons searches by law enforcement and family for nearly a week.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said Thursday investigators located Spanevelo more than four hours and over 260 miles away in Birmingham, Alabama, where they questioned him and were able to check in on the couple’s daughter.
They arrested him on Saturday morning during a traffic stop in Lebanon, Tennessee, and charged him with tampering with evidence and destroying evidence – in connection with his alleged disposal of Carli’s cellphone – and giving false information concerning a missing person investigation, officials have said.
Johnson said investigators were conducting a search warrant at a property in Alabama when they discovered Carli’s body in a barn in a shallow grave. Johnson told Fox News Digital her body appeared to be intact when they made the discovery on Saturday evening, and said there were no obvious signs of trauma.
St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell told Fox News Digital the victim’s body was recovered from a property along Highway 11 in Springville, Alabama, roughly 30 miles northeast of where police first caught up to Spanevelo in Birmingham. He said Spanevelo had ties to the property, but would not specify how.
Russell said Monday the autopsy was completed, but required further tests. He said a toxicology examination would also be conducted, and results would take weeks, if not months.
Johnson said investigators had obtained evidence to form "a great case" against Spanevelo.
"He was totally uncooperative. He never cooperated at all with us," he said. "It’s your baby’s mother and she’s missing, and you’re not going to cooperate with authorities. That’s kind of telltale."
Spanevelo made his first court appearance on Monday in Tennessee, where he told a judge he would not willingly waive his extradition to be returned to Florida.
"Not at this moment," Spanevelo responded, when asked if he's willing to waive extradition back to Florida, according to a stream by WEAR. "There are some things that need to be resolved before I’m willing to go that route."
In August, Carli's younger sister, Raeann, created a GoFundMe to help with the mounting legal fees. Cassie detailed on the fundraising page that she met Spanevelo in July 2017 and became pregnant just months later.
"This man was a master at the game of manipulation and though I could see all the warning signs of an abuser, I believed his excuses and became stuck in his web of narcissistic lies," Cassie wrote in the letter on GoFundMe. "During my pregnancy, this man’s abusive control and manipulation escalated. But having battled infertility in my first marriage, I desperately wanted a family. So, I justified his erratic behavior as long as I could."
Cassie wrote that after she ended the relationship, Spanevelo "filed dozens of false police reports" and called child protective services "so many times, I nearly came to know most of the staff by name."
Fox News Digital was first to report on Monday that a judge ordered Spanevelo to pay Carli $5,920 in attorney fees just nine days before the young mom disappearance.
Carli attended the March 18 hearing over zoom in the office of her attorney, Aaron Wentz.
"Everybody in the office is pretty upset about it. We've been dealing with Cassie for quite some time. Very, very wonderful young lady," Wentz told Fox News Digital on Monday. "As far as the lengthy court battle that's been going on, it never got to the point where I felt like something like this would happen, honestly. This was a shock."
Wentz said his office does not have any records indicating that Spanevelo paid Cassie any of the $5,920 that the judge ordered him to pay her.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Sheriff Johnson said that more charges against Spanevelo are likely as authorities review evidence.
"Once the autopsy is done and you see the charges filed, you'll understand, but I think we have a great case," Johnson said at a press conference on Sunday. "I think he's either going to spend the rest of his life in prison, or he's going to get the needle. Hopefully the needle."