ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the deaths of two Winter Park High School teenagers whose bodies were found burned on the Cady Way Trail last month.
The bodies of Nicholas Presha, 16, and Jeremy Stewart, 18, were found burning near the trail on April 15. Both had been bound and shot before being set on fire, police said.
On Tuesday, WFTV learned that police identified Jesse Davis as a suspect in the case. Davis, 30, was taken into custody on April 17, two days after the victims’ bodies were found.
WFTV found out Davis has a long arrest record that includes six drug charges, seven battery and assault charges, 11 charges for robbery or theft, and 12 charges related to weapons.
In the meantime, WFTV tracked down Davis’ mother, Patricia Hall, who said the Sheriff's Office has been to her Winter Park home searching for DNA and collecting possible evidence.
“They arrested my son for (a) supposedly attempted murder charge,” Hall said. “I'm just so shocked and overwhelmed.”
Hall said she was shocked but didn’t rule out the thought that her son was capable of such a crime.
"Maybe in the heat of a moment or something else. There's always a possibility. He's had mental illness since he was 5, and it’s escalated," Hall said. "Easter Sunday he told me he was suicidal, so I took him to the crisis center. They let him out the next day."
Sheriff Jerry Demings, as well as homicide detectives, recently said that the investigation has progressed well, and they are awaiting forensic information.
“I still can't believe he had anything to do with this, but it’s a possibility,” Hall said. “I cannot picture my son doing that evil.”
Police haven’t said what motivated the shooting, but investigators have gotten tips that Presha and Stewart were killed over a $500 drug debt.
WFTV was told, however, there was no indication that either of the teenagers had been using drugs or that they were involved with any gang activity.
“(Police) just said that they saw my son and this other person that's not named at this point at a car at the Steak n' Shake and the Citgo,” said Hall. “He was in a crisis. There's so much documentation on his mental health, and maybe he wouldn't have been able to be manipulated, not been involved at all if they would've done their job.”
"I’m so sorry for their loss. It’s incomprehensible what they went through," said Hall.
"Our investigators are moving forward as we speak," said Angelo Nieves, of the Orange County Sheriff's Office. "This goes from our patrol to our investigative and undercover units, as well as our surveillance units, to try to develop leads and information. So this is a multifaceted investigation."
Nieves said the biggest challenge police have faced is separating fact from dozens of rumors that have poured in, along with tips ranging from possible drug activity to gang involvement.
"The information we've received is part of the background, maybe what led to the incident," Nieves said.
Beyond information on a motive, the Sheriff's Office also confirmed forensic evidence could help investigators solidify the case against a suspect already on their radar.