Five people have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Seath Tyler Jackson, including his 15-year-old ex-girlfriend Amber Wright; her boyfriend, 18-year-old Michael Bargo; and three others.
Jackson's family planned a memorial service for 4 p.m. today at the First Baptist Church of Summerfield to remember the teen, described by a former neighbor as a "spunky, bright kid."
Jackson's parents reported their son missing Monday, stating they hadn't seen him since the previous day and he possibly was a runaway. However, according to arrest affidavits released by the Marion County Sheriff's Office, the mother of one of the suspects contacted them Tuesday and said her son had witnessed Jackson's murder.
"One of the suspects mentioned to his mother, 'He's not missing, he's dead,'" Marion County Sheriff's public information officer Judge Cochran told the Orlando Sentinel. "She, in turn, put him in the car and brought him to the Marion County Sheriff's office and that's when our detectives got involved more ... to round up all the suspects."
That boy, 16-year-old Kyle Hooper, was among those charged this week with first-degree murder. His sister, 15-year-old Amber Wright, also is charged with first-degree murder. Their stepfather, James Havens, 37, is charged with accessory after the fact. Havens is accused of helping to hide the body and driving Bargo out of town.
"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I was in the wrong place with all these kids. And I let these kids do something they shouldn't have," Havens told local television station 13 News.
Charlie Ely, 18, who lives at the house where Jackson was killed, and Justin Soto, 20, who lives with her, also are charged with first-degree murder.
According to the arrest affidavit, the five murder suspects were at Ely's home when Bargo "began to speak of his hatred" for Jackson.
"The conversation then turned into a plan to lure Seath to the residence so that Michael Bargo could kill him with the assistance of the other persons," the affidavit said.
Jackson's ex-girlfriend allegedly sent him a text message luring him to the house. There, Hooper and Soto attacked him, hitting him in the head until Bargo shot him multiple times, according to the affidavit. When Jackson attempted to flee, Soto tackled and restrained him, hitting him with an ax handle, and Bargo shot him about four more times, the affidavit said.
The boy's body was then placed in a bathtub, where Bargo is accused of breaking his knee caps, hog-tying him and placing him a sleeping bag.
According to the affidavit, "The sleeping bag containing the victim's body was then brought outside into the backyard of the residence and burned in a fire pit." The suspects later used a shovel to scrape the remains and ashes from the fire pit, placing them in several five-gallon paint cans which they left in a dumpster on the property.
A series of Facebook posts indicate that bad feelings had been growing between Jackson and Wright in the weeks before the slaying. The Star-Banner posted an alleged exchange between the two on its website, in which Jackson accused Wright of using methamphetamines and cheating on him. Wright reportedly wrote, "The thought of [you] makes me sick now."