Deputies in Florida fear for a missing woman because she disappeared after showing up for a child custody exchange. Cassie Carli, 37, was last seen Sunday, March 27, in a parking lot behind the Juana’s Pagodas restaurant in Navarre Beach, according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Early Saturday evening, authorities announced that Carli’s ex, Marcus Spanevelo, had been arrested. According to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, Spanevelo was picked up by the Tennessee Highway Patrol in Lebanon, Tenn., and is currently jailed in that jurisdiction on charges of tampering with evidence, giving false information concerning a missing persons investigation, and destruction of evidence.
The warrant for Spanevelo’s arrest was signed by a Santa Rosa County judge, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office said.
“Currently, this case remains an active investigation,” the sheriff’s office continued. “We are cautious as to the information being released due to the sensitivity of this case. Search efforts for Cassi Carli remain underway. The mutual child is still safe.”
Online jail records maintained by the Maury County Jail in Columbia, Tenn., suggest that Spanevelo was booked at 11:09 p.m. Central time on Friday, but authorities in Florida did not announce the arrest until early Saturday evening.
Earlier in the investigation, Sheriff Bob Johnson told reporters that investigators found Carli’s car behind the aforementioned restaurant on Monday, including her purse. With that in mind, Johnson voiced concern about Carli’s whereabouts. He stopped short of saying whether authorities believe she was kidnapped. However, he noted that it had been days since her last known whereabouts can can be ascertained, and neither her credit card nor her phone have registered any activity.
“I’m not really going to comment on what I believe,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter what I believe. I mean, the evidence is what we go on. And right now, we don’t have enough evidence to determine if she’s alive or if she’s deceased.”
What deputies are saying, however, is that Carli was at the restaurant for the custody exchange of her four-year-old daughter to Spanevelo, the little girl’s father.
Carli’s loved ones told local reporters that her father received texts from Carli’s phone Sunday night that did not sound like her.
“Especially the claims of car and phone troubles at the same time,” sister Raeann told WKRG. “She would have walked to the nearest gas station if she had to before getting Marcus for any type of help in a situation like that.”
Johnson declined to say what was in the purse. Carli’s family reportedly said her phone was missing.
“I’m sorry, car was acting up,” a text allegedly stated. “Marcus is working on it. I will stay at his place tonight. He is paying me money to do some stuff around his house.”
Deputies said they initially found Spanevelo and the four-year-old daughter in Birmingham, Alabama. Spanevelo reportedly works in that state.
Birmingham, Ala. is four hours north of Navarre Beach, Fla., where Carli was last seen. Lebanon, Tenn., is another three hours north of Birmingham; it is situated about 30 minutes due east of Nashville.
Child protective services spoke with the couple’s child, said Sheriff Johnson, who declined to comment on what these officials talked about with the girl. Deputes did not speak with the girl, Johnson said. The sheriff also declined to reveal Spanevelo’s version of events.
“We are intent on speaking with him again,” he said. As part of their work, investigators are searching outside Santa Rosa County, he said.
Law&Crime could not reach Spanevelo for comment.
According to Carli’s brother Anthony, Cassie had said over the last two years that Spanevelo had been threatening her.
“She is always in contact with her family and friends,” Raeann added. “Even during the exchange, she would have texted. Our red flag was Marcus.”
Deputies describe Carli as standing 5’5″, weighing 150 pounds, and as having blonde hair and blue eyes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact local law enforcement or the Santa Rosa County Crime Stoppers Program at (850) 437-STOP. There is a reward for up to $3,000 for closure of the case.
“With Crime Stoppers, you can remain 100% anonymous,” the authorities said.
You can also reach the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 983-1190.
[Editor’s note: this piece, which was prepared and published moments before authorities announced Spanevelo’s arrest, has been updated substantially to contain the facts thereof.]
[Images via the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office]
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