SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Thursday was a win for the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and friends of Cassie Carli, they said, as they announced the federal indictment against Carli’s ex-boyfriend, Marcus Spanevelo.
“This is a great day for Santa Rosa County,” Sheriff Bob Johnson said. “Because we are getting a scumbag off the streets, permanently.”
Johnson went through the timeline of Carli’s disappearance and the arrest of Spanevelo up until the federal indictment was issued yesterday.
On March 27, Carli went missing. On April 1, Spanevelo was arrested in Tennessee on three charges related to the investigation, tampering with evidence, giving false information concerning a missing persons investigation and destruction of evidence. The day after, Carli’s remains were found in a shallow grave within a barn in Alabama. In October, St. Clair County District Attorney Lyle Harmon said his office charged Spanevelo with corpse abuse in connection with the disappearance and death of Carli. On Dec. 20, 2022, the FBI was called, and they took over the investigation.
Now, he’s charged with kidnapping resulting in death. If convicted, he could get life in prison or the death penalty.
“I want to thank, first and foremost, our Major Crimes Unit,” Johnson said. “As soon as they got this, they hit the ground running, went to Alabama, Tennessee, and did all the necessary stuff to get this guy in custody as quickly as possible. Also, the FDLE, Florida State Attorney’s Office, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI.”
Johnson, a 2010 graduate of the National FBI Academy, said the FBI worked the case amazingly.
“They got this case in December, and here we are in January and this guy is either going to spend the rest of his life in prison or the death penalty,” Johnson said.
Johnson said personally, he hopes Spanevelo spends the rest of his life in prison.
“That would be a miserable existence for him,” Johnson said. “The death penalty would be too quick. That is just my personal opinion.”
He said he would have preferred everything to have occurred in Santa Rosa County, but there are several things he couldn’t discuss as to why it couldn’t.
“The main point is that Mr. Spanevelo is never going to see the light of day again,” Johnson said. “That is the most important thing, not only for Cassie, but for the Carli family, as well.”
With the federal indictment, Johnson said they are all getting closure.
“I think this sends the message that we will do whatever it takes, we will go anywhere we need to go to solve a homicide,” Johnson said. “If we have any idiots out there that are thinking about killing somebody, don’t do it in Santa Rosa County. That’s all I can tell you. Because you will get caught.”
For Carli’s friends, they told WKRG News 5 they have never felt this feeling of relief.
“It’s definitely nice to know that we got some closure that some psychopath is off the street, and we can enjoy our loved ones and not have to worry about crazy people like that,” Amy Wilbert said.
They said they are glad they know Saylor, Carli’s daughter, will now be safe.
“He will never get the opportunity to hurt her,” Kirsty Sullivan said. “Even if they let him out on bond, I was so worried. People cut monitors off all the time, I mean he is from Brazil, he has connections in Brazil. We needed to know that that baby was safe forever.”
Sullivan said Carli deserved as much justice as she could get.
“The system failed in a lot of different ways, but it’s nice to see something happen in her favor,” Sullivan said.
Growing up, Wilbert said Carli was one of her best friends through it all.
“I’ve known her since I was like 14,” Wilbert said. “So, we have been through a lot together. I just loved her like a sister.”
They said through life they have watched each other grow into the women and moms they are now.
“We’ve known each other for the past 25 years, watched each other have kids,” Sullivan said. “We’ve grown up around each other.”
Throughout the investigation, the friends agreed law enforcement did everything they could to keep them informed.
“Just seeing the different agencies work together so well, I mean this happened in Santa Rosa County and I never felt like they were clamoring for attention or to take the case,” Sullivan said. “They just worked so well and have gotten justice for Cassie.”
Moving forward, they said this isn’t the end for keeping Carli’s memory alive.
“The Cassie Carli Project is in the works right now and hopefully we will be able to help people who are in domestic violence situations and provide some resources for them to get them a better life,” Ashley Daring said.
Johnson said Spanevelo will head to trial in Birmingham and if convicted, he could spend either life in prison or receive the death penalty.