ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Dozens of family members and friends of 16-year-old Alexandria Chery rallied together Thursday as Orange County deputies continued searching for the missing teenager.
The group rallied in Orlando Thursday afternoon, hours after a massive search began in a wooded area near the Osceola-Polk county line.
Friends of Chery described her as a happy teenager who loved life.
"She was such a character. I mean I am not going to say she was, she is such a character," said friend Lauren Clephar.
Chery was last seen at her home at the Hawthorne Grove apartment complex in Orange County early Monday morning.
"I just want her to come home and I hope she is not hurt and walking and stuff like that," said Chery's cousin, Dana St. Fleur.
The group is putting out a desperate plea for information in the case.
“All I’m worried about right now is finding my sister,” said Alexandria Chery’s brother, Fanzo Chery.
Chery's mother's long-time boyfriend, Sanel Saint Simon, was arrested in connection with the case and charged with providing false information to a law enforcement officer and attempted destruction of evidence.
"There is no doubt he had something to do with her, with my niece missing right now," said Chery's uncle, Ray Joseph.
Authorities said Chery told her mother about 7 a.m. that she didn’t feel well and was staying home for the day. When her mother got home later that evening, however, her daughter was nowhere to be found.
Almost all of Chery's personal belongings were gone from the closets and dresser when deputies arrived at the scene, investigators said.
The only thing left in the room was an oversized stuffed teddy bear with what appeared to be a moderate amount of blood or some sort of substance on the foot.
“The individual could have been seriously injured or it could have been a homicide,” said Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
The mother said she also saw blood spatter on several other areas of the residence and that there was a strong odor of bleach coming from a pair of men's underwear found under her daughter’s bed.
Chery's mother also noted that the bed, which is usually made well, was stripped of the comforter, sheets and pillows.
Investigators said Saint Simon was untruthful during questioning and Chery's disappearance is considered extremely suspicious.
Saint Simon is being held in the Orange County Jail.