The tragic story of Carlie Brucia, the 11-year-old girl kidnapped from a Florida car wash in broad daylight

In February 2004, Carlie Brucia was abducted from a Florida car wash about a mile from her home and found dead just days later in a field behind a church.

Sarasota County Sheriff’s OfficeReal CCTV footage of the fatal kidnapping of Carlie Brucia at a car wash in Sarasota, Florida.

On the night of February 1, 2004, an 11-year-old girl named Carlie Brucia was abducted in Sarasota, Florida, while she was walking a mile from her friend’s house to her own home. A church found her dead in a field five days later in a crime that shocked her entire community.

This is his tragic story.

the kidnapping of carlie brucia

carlie brucia

fake imagesCarlie Brucia was just 11 years old when she was kidnapped and murdered in her own hometown.

Carlie Jane Brucia was born on March 16, 1992. In 1993, her mother and father had divorced, and Brucia was visiting her Long Island family during summer and winter school vacations. Brucia was living with her mother Susan Schorpen and her stepfather in Sarasota when the unthinkable happened that night in February.

Brucia had been sleeping over at a friend’s house and was on her way home to watch the Super Bowl that night, it was around 6:15 pm when she began her mile walk back home.

Her friend’s mother, Connie Arnold, had called Brucia’s mother to verify that she could walk, and Schorpen replied that she did not want Brucia walking on busy Bee Ridge Road. Consequently, she sent her husband to look for her, but he never found her.

Brucia’s parents called 911 around 7:30 p.m. and police launched a full-scale search for Bruscia as the excruciating hours wore on. Then, around noon the next day, police bloodhounds tracking Bruscia’s scent happened upon Evie’s Car Wash at 4735 Bee Ridge Road.

The dogs tracked the scent behind the car wash before it suddenly disappeared.

Footage taken by the car wash’s motion-sensor cameras showed a man in a mechanic’s uniform leading Brucia by the arm at 6:21 p.m. the night before. Police rewound the tape and saw a yellow Buick driving into the parking lot three minutes before he was recorded abduction.

According to The New York Timesthe archival material was immediately released to the media and a amber alert it was issued for Brucia, but it would be in vain.

Although Brucia’s kidnapper was quickly identified from images like local mechanic Joseph Peter Smith, it was too late for Brucia.

The morbid discovery of Brucia’s body

Police eventually received Smith’s address, and authorities learned that the suspect was on probation for drug offenses. The previous year, Smith had violated probation twice, but authorities decided not to arrest him.

Police searched Smith’s rented room and found mechanic’s uniforms in his closet, but no other evidence linking him to Brucia. When officers found drug paraphernalia in his car, Smith was taken into custody for a probation violation.

Joseph Smith’s brother, John, was shown the CCTV footage and agreed to help the FBI obtain a confession from him. “If it’s him,” John warned, “you won’t get it out of him.” And yet, on February 5, Smith called his brother John, who was then able to lead FBI agents and a local officer to Central Christ Church, directing them to a nearby field 2.8 miles from the scene of the attack. Brucia kidnapping.

While at the church, John received another call from his brother, who described the location of Brucia’s body.

In a field behind the church, 11-year-old Carlie Brucia was found lying on her back, with a deep ligature mark prominent on her neck. She was naked below her waist, apart from a sock on her right foot, with her right leg extended and her left leg folded under her.

During that phone call, Smith admitted that he had “rough sex” with Brucia before strangling her.

Smith’s conviction

Joseph P Smith sits in court

YoutubeJoseph P Smith sits in court.

The Sarasota County Medical Examiner determined that Brucia had been strangled from behind and abrasions on the side of her body indicated that she had been dragged to her final resting place. A semen sample found on his shirt matched Joseph Smith’s DNA profile, and two of the hairs on Brucia’s head were recovered from the yellow van she had borrowed, with seven fibers matching the red shirt she was wearing. Brucia.

Smith had dumped Brucia’s backpack and clothes in different trash bins, as reported by CNN. All of this evidence was enough to charge Smith with Brucia’s kidnapping and murder.

Convicted on all charges, Smith was sentenced to death on March 15, 2006. In 2018, Smith’s sentence was commuted to life in prison, but reinstated by a death sentence in April 2020. However, Smith died on the death row under unknown circumstances on July 26. 2021, according to the Herald Tribune. Police also suspect Smith in the unsolved murder of Tara Reilly, whose nude body was found in a retention pond behind a Walmart in Bradenton, Florida, in 2000.

However, Brucia’s gruesome death prompted legal action. In 2004, a bill called Carlie’s Law was proposed that amended existing laws to toughen probation rules for sex offenders. However, the bill did not pass Congress and appears to have been abandoned.

Tragedy followed Brucia’s family. In July 2005, Brucia’s mother lost custody of her seven-year-old son after she failed a drug test. according to the Tampa Bay Times. At the time, Schorpen said that he had turned to drugs “because the pain within my reality is too much to bear.” Sadly, he died of a heroin overdose in April 2017.

After learning about the kidnapping and murder of Carlie Brucia, read about the haunting story of susan smith, the mother who drowned her own children. Later, she learns how the daughter of John Wayne Gacy, christina gacyavoided becoming one of its victims.

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