SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. – Sumter County detectives are seeking the public's help Monday in finding a suspect in the slaying of a 16-year-old Lake County girl.
Officials with the Sumter County Sheriff's Office said the teen's body was found Sunday, after Tavares police asked for a well-being check on the victim, inside a home on Pine Street in Bushnell, prompting a homicide investigation.
Aleaya Maria Jackson's mother, Nycole Jackson, told News 6 that her daughter was found at 2 p.m. more than 20 miles from her Leesburg home.
Jackson said Aleaya is familiar with that area of Bushnell, but she did not say who her daughter knows there.
"I'm numb. I'm shocked. I don't even know what I am right now," Nycole Jackson said.
Sumter County detectives have identified Larry Darnell Peavy, of Bushnell, as a suspect in the homicide.
Deputies said Peavy and Jackson first started talking online.
Peavy met the victim and another teenage girl and brought them to the house on Pine Street, deputies said. Peavy told the girls he would like to take them to a party. One of the girls was sexually assaulted, detectives confirmed, and told Peavy to take her back home so she could get money for the party.
When they arrived at the Bushnell residence one of the girls called Tavares police who notified the Sumter County Sheriff's Office for a well-being check.
The last time the unidentified teenager saw Jackson, she was alive, deputies said.
Peavy was last seen driving a gray 1997 Nissan Sentra with a Florida tag number 2295UJ.
"It's kinda a beat up vehicle," Sumter County Sheriff's Office Cpt. Pat Breeden said. "Anybody who has information about his whereabouts please contact the Sumter County Sheriff's Office ... It's horrible, we hate to have to deal with it, it's unfortunate circumstances."
The victim's father, Michael Jenkins, told News 6 he and the suspect were once colleagues.
"I know Larry, I worked with Larry. I was thinking, 'Larry is an alright guy.' And all the time he was molesting my daughter," Jenkins said.
Jenkins urged Peavy to turn himself in.
"It's just best you go ahead and give yourself up, go lay down, because either God is gonna arrest you, the people is gonna arrest you or you're gonna run into a wall," Jenkins said.
Detectives would not say how Jackson died, but did say it was violent.
Nycole Jackson said dozens of Aleaya's friends have messaged her and visited her home.
"Friends of hers stopped by to see if there's anything they could do. She's going to be missed by everybody. By everybody," she said. "It's overwhelming, but it's a good overwhelming. It puts a joy in my heart to know she made such an impact on so many people."
Aleaya was a student at Alee Academy Charter School in Eustis, but her mom said she withdrew this year.
"She liked to go out and that's where we bumped heads. I just wanted to try to keep her in line. And she was 16. She was a kid," Jackson said.
Friends and family took to social media with messages of condolences Monday after learning of Jackson’s death.
“Words can’t explain how much I miss you,” one wrote.
“You had a one of a kind soul and you will be missed by so many,” another friend wrote.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 352-793-2621. Tipsters can remain anonymous by calling Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).