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Autopsy of slain Florida mother Cassie Carli will be performed on Monday


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NAVARRE BEACH, Fla. — Relatives of slain Florida woman Cassie Carli — whose body was found Saturday night in an Alabama barn — announced plans Sunday to start a foundation in her honor for other women victims of domestic violence.

Sam Graves learned early on Sunday that she had lost one of her closest friends, Cassie Carli, who was practically family. But in the sadness of the news, she embarked on a mission: To help other women who might find themselves in similar situations.

In those moments after hearing the news, she scribbled a note: “The Cassie Carli Foundation, Rescue women from the grips of [domestic violence] then to keep them safe,” the note reads.

MISSING FLORIDA MOM CASSIE CARLI FOUND DEAD IN ALABAMA

A crowd gathers at a vigil for Cassie Carli, a mother from Florida who was found dead and buried in a shallow grave in a barn in Alabama on April 2, 2022.
(Fox News Digital/Stephanie Pagones)

“I never could have imagined that we would be here today to do this for Cassie, although we all know she said it many times – she screamed so many times for help and always said, ‘If anything happens to me, it’s Marcus,'” Graves said at a sunset vigil in his honor. “There are so many women in this world right now who are in the same situation.”

She added: “And just like we showed up for Cassie, and we made a commitment that we wouldn’t come home until we could get her home, I’ll live every day, the rest of my life , fighting for women who are victims of domestic violence. I will spend my last dollar to make sure they are safe.”

MISSING FLORIDA MOM CASSIE CARLI FELT ‘EXTREMELY’ DANGEROUS AROUND CHILD’S FATHER BEFORE DISAPPEARANCE: SISTER

Graves and her significant other, Greg Cole, were among a handful of close friends of Carli, who led the search for the 37-year-old woman after she disappeared on March 27.

The couple joined about 100 people who attended the sunset vigil in memory of Carli on Sunday, just hours after Sheriff Bob Johnson announced that investigators had found her body in a shallow grave at the interior of a barn in Alabama.

“I want to prevent that. Period,” Cole told Fox News Digital at the vigil. “It’s the desire, it’s to prevent that from happening. As a lot of goodness comes from that, I think we’d all rather have Cassie here.”

Graves and Cole told Fox News Digital that women had already approached them at Sunday’s vigil to potentially need the advice and help the foundation would offer.

Carli was last seen on the evening of March 27 as she met her daughter’s father, Marcus Spanevelo, in the parking lot of a beachside restaurant, Juana’s Pagoda, not far from her home in Navarre. Investigators then recovered her vehicle, with her purse inside, and confirmed the couple’s 4-year-old daughter was safe. Her disappearance prompted law enforcement and her family to search for missing persons for nearly a week.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said Thursday that investigators located Spanevelo more than four hours and more than 260 miles from Birmingham, Alabama, where they interviewed him and were able to verify the daughter of the couple.

They arrested him Saturday morning during a traffic stop in Lebanon, Tennessee, and charged him with tampering with and destroying evidence – in connection with his alleged handing over of Carli’s cellphone – and with having gave false information regarding a missing person investigation, officials said.

MOM CASSIE CARLI’S CELL PHONE MISSING IN FLORIDA NOT FOUND; WIFE WARNED FAMILY ABOUT EX, SISTER SAYS

Investigators executing a search warrant located Carli’s remains in a shallow grave inside a barn in Springville, Alabama, about 30 miles northeast of Birmingham, Johnson announced Sunday. Spanevelo is expected to face additional charges after an autopsy is completed on Monday, which will reveal the cause of death.

Johnson said investigators had obtained evidence to build “an excellent case” against Spanevelo.

Autopsy of slain Florida mother Cassie Carli will be performed on Monday

Booking photo of Marcus Spanevelo
(Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office)

“Once the autopsy is done and you see the charges laid, you’ll understand, but I think we have a great case,” he told reporters. “I think he’s either going to spend the rest of his life in prison or he’s going to get the needle. Hopefully the needle.”

Johnson said Carli’s body showed no obvious signs of trauma. When asked if Spanevelo had cooperated with investigators, he replied, “Absolutely not.”

SEARCH FOR MISSING FLORIDA MOM CASSIE CARLI SPREADS OUT OF STATE AS LAST PERSON TO SEE HER FOUND IN ALABAMA

“He was totally uncooperative. He never cooperated with us at all,” he said. “She’s your baby’s mother and she’s missing, and you’re not going to cooperate with the authorities. That’s a bit of a tell-tale.”

He said the couple’s daughter was routinely checked by authorities until Carli’s family was reunited with her.

Autopsy of slain Florida mother Cassie Carli will be performed on Monday

Cassie Carli seen in this undated photo
(Carli family)

Johnson said he personally informed the family of the discovery of Carli’s remains on Sunday morning and added: “They are crushed.”

“We hate that Cassie passed away,” he said. “But it’s good to turn the page for the family, and it’s good to keep this bastard in prison, where he belongs.”

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After Sunday’s vigil, Carli’s younger sister, Raeann, told Fox News Digital, “Cassie warned us all – the law, everyone – and we should have listened.”

Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.

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