Third and Final Suspect Arrested Over ‘Gang Related’ Triple Murders of Central Florida Teens
Vanessa Serna, Daily Mail, April 9, 2023
A third suspect was arrested on Saturday in connection with the ‘gang related’ murders of three teenagers which shook Florida last week.
Police vowed to find Tahj Brewton, 16, after his suspected accomplices Christopher Atkins, 12, and Robert Robinson, 17, were arrested on Friday in connection with the slayings outside Ocklawaha.
The US Marshals teamed up with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to help capture Brewton after Layla Silvernail, 16, Camille Quarles, 16, and an unidentified 17-year-old boy were found shot dead and discovered over three days dumped in separate places within a 5-mile radius.
Brewton was arrested on several charges, including grand theft, carjacking with a firearm, attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and tampering with an electronic monitoring device, according to the sheriff’s department.
The three teenagers arrested in connection to the murders all face additional charges and first-degree murder.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods explained at a Friday press conference that the victims and the alleged killers were all ‘associated in some way with a gang’ that was involved in a spate of robberies and burglaries.
Detectives were able to determine that the three teenage victims were together prior to their murders in a vehicle owned by Silvernail, before they were dumped in different locations over a three-day period.
According to an arrest affidavit filed against 12-year-old Atkins, Silvernail’s body was discovered in a garbage dumpster after a vehicle crashed into it soon after residents heard several gunshots.
Sixteen-year-old Silvernail was shot in the head and was still alive when she was discovered near Forest Lakes Park, however she later succumbed to her injuries and died in hospital.
The discovery was followed hours later when an unnamed 17-year-old victim was found less than a mile away on the side of a road.
A third victim, 16-year-old Camille Quarles, was found Saturday inside Silvernail’s car, which was partially submerged in a pond.
After revealing that Quarles was in the trunk of the car, Sheriff Woods said cellphone evidence suggested that she was in the vehicle ‘of her own free will’.
The arrested suspects confessed to shooting Quarles in the vehicle, Woods said. They obtained guns from car thefts, he explained but he declined to comment on the number of weapons used in the killings.
Asked about the motive, Woods said: ‘We have nothing to say that it was any rivalry or anything to such that cause.
‘However, each and every one of them was associated in some shape or form was associated in some way with a gang. … There is no honor among thieves, and at some point, these individuals turned on our three victims and murdered them.’
Woods said that the alleged killings by the three young teenagers were messy and that they had left evidence littered across the scene.
The arrests come after the close proximity of the victims’ bodies had initially sparked fears that a serial killer may have been on the loose in the small town of Ocklawaha, however police were quick to rule out that theory.
An urgent investigation was launched following the grisly discoveries, with law enforcement describing the killings as an ‘isolated incident’.
After Silvernail and Quarles were identified as the victims, the identity of the third victim has not been released because their family have enacted their right of Marsy’s Law, which allows crime victims or their families to request their names be withheld from public documents.
The unidentified victims was later revealed to have been wearing all black clothing with a black mask covering his face when he was found dead.
The 17-year-old boy was sprawled on the side of a dirt road where a female student says she stumbled over the horror on her way to catch a school bus early Friday morning.
‘I was walking with my brother and I found the guy… he was not breathing,’ the student, who would only give her name as Khatia, told DailyMail.com.
‘He was laying on his side and was wearing a black hoodie, black shirt, black pants and black shoes. He had the hoodie over his head and he had a black mask up over his face. I couldn’t see his face. You could only see his eyes.’