Mysterious Deaths of 3 Florida Teens Likely Connected to ‘Wannabe Gang’ 

The three Florida teens whose bullet-riddled bodies were found abandoned in separate places last week were all friends and their deaths may be connected to a “wannabe gang,” Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods revealed Tuesday.

The new details emerged as the tiny community of Ocklawaha, Florida, has continued to reel since the teens’ slaying—with “crazy rumors” spreading about a potential serial killer, despite repeated assurances from authorities the teens were shot dead in an isolated incident.

Layla Silvernail, 16, is the only victim to be identified by cops. Her body was recovered on the side of a road on Thursday night, not far from where her car was found Saturday, partially submerged in a pond with a dead 16-year-old girl inside. Woods said the body of a 17-year-old boy was also found Friday morning on a separate stretch of road, about a mile away from where Silvernail was found. All three had gunshot wounds.

Silvernail was still alive when authorities reached her, but she was shot in the head and had no brain activity, Woods said. Her family decided to take her off life support this week and donate her organs, a spokesperson for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to The Daily Beast.

In a GoFundMe fundraiser for Silvernail, her softball league wrote that she was “the definition of a team player” who will be “will be greatly missed.”

Few details about the teens and their potential killers have been released, but Woods said Tuesday that cops have “more than one” suspect they’re eyeing. The sheriff said he’s assigned 15 detectives to the case and increased their presence in Ocklawaha—the tiny town of 1,500 where the bodies were found.

The increase in officers hasn’t put most residents at ease, however, 40-year-old Sara Berghuis told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. She said that “everyone is freaking out” and that she’s ordered her kids, aged 9 and 12, to stay inside until a killer is found.

“They found the car right near where they go off to ride four-wheelers, catch tadpoles,” Berghuis said about her kids. “It shouldn’t have to be like this. It’s usually so quiet, there’s deer and bears crossing in the morning.”

When asked by reporters on Tuesday, Woods said he couldn’t elaborate on why the teen’s deaths were linked to a “wannabe gang,” and that he couldn’t share a potential motive for their slaying. He said it’s unknown what the teens were doing in their final moments alive and whether they were all shot at the same time.

“Let’s be frank, anybody who associates with a gang, at some point in their life, they’ve done something wrong—whether they’ve been arrested or not,” Woods said. “It’s not a gang because it’s unicorns and everything else, it’s a gang because they do illegal stuff.”

Woods urged everyone in Ocklawaha to go about their daily lives as normal, and told parents they don’t need to worry about the alleged gang “as long as they’re paying attention to what their kids are doing.”

Woods said detectives are working with the victim’s families and building a case that will hold up in court. He said he’s assured them that their loved ones’ killer or killers will be arrested soon.

“We’re gonna get ’em,” Woods told reporters on Tuesday. “Their ass is going to be right over there, in that jail.”

3 thoughts on “Mysterious Deaths of 3 Florida Teens Likely Connected to ‘Wannabe Gang’ 

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  1. Time will tell, but will the arrests be reported on? And will the murders be let out of jail to commit further crimes? As they are in democrat run states and cities!


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