Report: Carlie's Body Found in Florida

02/06/2004 AT 01:00 PM EST

The body of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, whose abduction in Florida last Sunday was captured by a surveillance camera, was found in a wooded area near a church parking lot, according to reports out of Sarasota.

Central Florida TV station Local 6 reports that investigators found Carlie's remains between 12:45 a.m. and 1 a.m. Friday outside a church a few miles from the car wash where she was taken.

"Our prayers on behalf of everybody here in Sarasota County go out to the family," said Sarasota County Sheriff Bill Balkwill in a press conference, naming Joseph P. Smith, 37, as the suspect who has been charged with the girl's kidnapping and murder.

Investigators found the body after negotiations with Smith, said the TV report. Earlier it had been said that Smith, believed to be the tattooed man in a mechanic's shirt shown in the surveillance video leading Carlie away by the hand, had not been cooperating during police questioning.

The girl's father, Joe Brucia, somberly thanked "all the (law enforcement) people behind me and all the people that were behind them in their efforts to find my daughter," said Local 6. He also thanked "the community that was so involved."

At a nationally televised press conference shortly after 7 on Friday morning, sheriff's authorities announced, "We have found Carlie and the person responsible for her murder is in custody."

Officials, their voices cracking with emotion, also said they would not be disclosing where the body of Carlie was found, as it was still an active investigation site. They also described Carlie as "a beautiful 11-year-old girl," and the entire incident as "a tragedy."

Smith, 37, has been in custody on a probation violation since Tuesday afternoon. According to news reports, Smith's car, a Buick Century station wagon, had been searched by sheriff's investigators for clues in the disappearance of Carlie.

According to state records, Smith has been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993. On May 7, 1997, Manatee County officials arrested him on kidnapping and false imprisonment charges, but he was acquitted a year later, records show.

Other arrests range from misdemeanor battery to drug possession, records show.

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