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Funeral Plans Made For 11-Year Old Carlie Brucia

11:50 AM, Feb 7, 2004   |    comments
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First Coast News streaming video 56k | High-Speed - Stranger Danger Sarasota--(First Coast News & AP-- 11-Year Carlie Brucia will be laid to rest this Thursday. A memorial service will be held Tuesday night. Sarasota County sheriff's officials said Carlie Brucia's body was found about 1 a.m. Friday outside a church a few miles from the car wash where she was abducted. Authorities did not say how she died or whether she had been raped. Sheriff Bill Balkwill said Joseph P. Smith, 37, has been charged with the girl's murder. Smith is believed to be the tattooed man in a mechanic's shirt who was seen in the surveillance video leading Carlie away by the arm Sunday evening, authorities said. Investigators found the body after negotiations with Smith, said a law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier, authorities had said Smith was not cooperating. "We now stand ready to complete our obligation, and assure you that he will pay the ultimate price for what he did to her," Capt. Jeff Bell said. The girl's father, Joe Brucia, somberly thanked "all the (law enforcement) people behind me and all the people that were behind them in their efforts to find my daughter." He also thanked "the community that was so involved." The Central Church of Christ was surrounded by yellow crime scene tape Friday, and about a dozen detectives walked in a line across the field in an evidence sweep. They declined to comment. Carlie's stepfather, Steven Kansler, and some friends gathered at the edge of the church property Friday morning, kneeling in a prayer circle. Rod Myers, the church's minister, said a Bible study group met there Wednesday night but nobody saw the body because it was dark. "We are all upset about it, and we all feel helpless when things like this happen," Myers said. In the front yard of Carlie's home, decorated with banners and posters reading, "We love you, Carlie," another small group of supporters joined hands and bowed their heads in prayer. The girl's family includes Carlie's 6-year-old half brother and a 10-year-old stepbrother. Friends described Carlie as a beautiful girl who loved watching actress Jennifer Lopez, going to the mall and greeting friends with warm hugs. She was heading home from a slumber party when she was abducted. Bob Hagemann, principal of MacIntosh Middle School, called Carlie "a shining light" at his school. Carlie's friend Natalie Thomas cried after hearing that her classmate's body was found. She remembered Carlie's smile and that she liked to go on walks. "There's nothing you can do to make anybody feel better and it's going to hurt for a long, long time," said Chuck Chambers, a private investigator who was working with the family. "I need my daughter home," Carlie's mother, Susan Schorpen, had said Thursday. "She's a very, very important part of this family and community." Members of her former Girl Scout troop took a day off from school Wednesday to pass out fliers at shopping centers, canvass neighborhoods and distribute pink ribbons adorned with Carlie's name. A reward fund of $50,000 was offered for information. Smith has been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993, according to state records, and convicted of drug possession and other charges. He was arrested in 1997 in Manatee County on a false imprisonment charge but was acquitted a year later. An aide to Smith's public defender, Adam Tebrugge, had declined to comment Thursday. Carlie was walking home from a friend's house at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday when she took a short cut behind Evie's Car Wash, which was closed for the day. Bloodhounds led deputies to the business, and car wash owner Mike Evanoff checked the security system video Monday, he said. The images of Carlie popped up almost immediately, he said. "It was cold chills right up my back," Evanoff said earlier this week. "My manager couldn't even look at it. It's an awful feeling." In the 1997 false imprisonment case, a 20-year-old woman in Bradenton said a man grabbed her as she walked by and tried to pull her away, according to records released by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. "He got on top of me and told me to shut up or he would cut me," she told authorities. After a struggle, she said, she managed to run into the street, and passengers in an approaching van stopped and rescued her. Smith, found hiding behind a house by a police tracking dog, was acquitted by jurors after telling them he was trying to keep the woman from running into the street and she misunderstood.

FCN & Associated Press

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