Florida police rule out serial killer in death of three teens

On March 30th, deputies from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) responded to an emergency call in the area around Forest Lakes Park on SE 183rd Avenue Road. When they arrived, they found 16-year-old Layla Silvernail suffering from a gunshot wound. Silvernail was transported to the hospital but remains in critical condition.

The following day, deputies dispatched to SE 94th Street and SE 188th Court discovered a deceased 17-year-old male who had been shot. The next morning, on April 1st, the MCSO Major Crimes Unit, Forensic Unit, and Underwater Recovery Team responded to the area of Malauka Loop and Malauka Loop Trace and found the body of a 16-year-old female with a gunshot wound.

The MCSO strongly believes all three homicides are connected and have urged anyone with information regarding the cases to contact Detective Ryan Stith at (352) 368-3542 or Crime Stoppers of Marion County at (352)368-STOP (7867), referencing case No. 23-22.

In response to rumors circulating on social media of a fourth victim or a suspect in a serial killing, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods asked that people refrain from speculation, as many family members are potentially reading the comments.

Silvernail, a beloved softball standout and team player, was taken away from her family and friends much too soon. Her family has set up a GoFundMe to contribute to medical bills and to help donate Silvernail’s organs to those in need.

The MCSO is doing its utmost to investigate the case and to find the guilty party. Any information, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, may go a long way in helping the investigation reach a successful conclusion and can also aid the victims’ families in finding closure.