POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Deputies and search crews spent much of Thursday searching for a missing Orange County teenager in a heavily wooded area near the Osceola-Polk county line.
Alexandria Chery, 16, was reported missing on Monday and investigators said her mother’s boyfriend, Sanel Saint Simon, 43, lied about his whereabouts the day she disappeared.
They said Saint Simon told them he was at work, but was really driving around in a black Pontiac.
Saint Simon was arrested Wednesday. He has not been charged in her disappearance, but he remains in jail due to an immigration hold on his bond.
Investigators said there was bleach and blood inside Chery’s bedroom, and a pair of bleach-soaked men’s underwear was found underneath her bed.
“There’s no doubt he is responsible and he has something to do with my niece missing right now,” said Chery’s uncle, Ray Joseph.
Dozens of deputies have been coming and going in the area off Lake Wilson Road near Davenport, but they’re being very tight-lipped about what they’re doing.
ATVs and a boat were seen going into the heavily wooded area, which is about 30 miles from where the teen was last seen.
Skywitness 9 was overhead as a swarm of deputies fanned out across the search zone.
“I’ve seen sheriffs on four-wheelers and two parked near our clubhouse, searching for the 16-year-old,” said resident Raven Tillsley.
Those living near the scene said two apartment complexes sit in the middle of trees and heavy brush.
“I think it’s crazy. I’ve lived here all my life. Nothing like this has happened,” Tillsley said.
It’s unclear if investigators found anything during the large-scale search, but deputies pledged to exhaust all avenues to find Chery.
Officials refused to release any new details on their investigation, and are expected to be back following leads on Friday.
Crimeline workers said they received about a half-dozen tips within 24 hours.