After Friday night, the volunteer portion of the search for missing University of Florida student Christian Aguilar will stop and authorities will continue their own efforts to find him, the Gainesville Police Department announced Thursday.
Authorities said that many of the large, general areas have been completely searched, so areas are becoming more “limited and exact,” according to Officer Ben Tobias.
Rather than having volunteers comb the areas, professional search teams will follow leads and respond directly.
“Anything that is found at this point of the investigation will be considered evidence – and we can’t risk the integrity of that evidence being handled by anyone but law enforcement,” Tobias said.
The police department handling the case released a statement about the suspended volunteer effort Thursday.
“The Gainesville Police Department, along with the Aguilar Family has been overwhelmed with the volunteer turnout to help in the Search and Recovery of Christian Aguilar. The volunteer check-in post will close at 5pm on Friday, October 5th. After that time, GPD will no longer be coordinating a volunteer portion of the operation. Multiple areas have already been searched with help from volunteers. Additional areas will continue to be searched by officers and other personnel that are specially trained in Search and Recovery, based on leads from GPD’s Criminal Investigations Bureau,” the statement read.
Authorities will not be releasing new search areas due to the length of the list.
Aguilar, 18, was last seen on Sept. 20 with his Doral Academy Preparatory High School classmate Pedro Bravo. Although Aguilar’s body hasn't been found, Gainesville Police charged Bravo, also 18, with murder in the disappearance.
Bravo’s attorney, Ron Kozlowski, said his client was cooperating.
“We’ve told you this before. Since the day the police first questioned him, they had him for somewhere between 8 to 12 hours," Kozlowski said. "They talked to him, they interrogated him, he drove them around town, he showed them what he said he knew."