Body found in burned SUV believed to be tied to armed carjacking caught on video: Florida sheriff

Investigators believe the victim was targeted but do not know why.

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Sunday, April 14, 2024
Urgent manhunt underway after deadly carjacking caught on video in Florida
A murder investigation is underway after a body was found in a burned SUV in Florida in what investigators believe is connected to an armed carjacking that was caught on video.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. -- A murder investigation is underway after a body was found in a burned SUV in central Florida in what investigators strongly believe is connected to an armed carjacking that was caught on video, authorities said.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office released footage of what Sheriff Dennis Lemma called an "incredibly frightening" and "bold" carjacking that occurred Thursday evening at an intersection in the Winter Springs area, ABC News reported.

In the video, a suspect wearing a "ninja-style" mask and armed with what appears to be a 10 mm handgun gets out of a green Acura sedan, points the weapon at the driver of a white Dodge Durango ahead of their vehicle and then gets into the back driver's-side door, the sheriff's office said. A person in a vehicle behind the Acura filmed what appeared to be a carjacking in progress on a cellphone and reported it to police, Lemma said.

Less than two hours later, witnesses in Osceola County reported hearing gunshots and smoke after a vehicle was set on fire at a construction site, Lemma said.

A body recovered from the vehicle has not been officially identified but is believed to be the driver of the Dodge Durango -- identified by the sheriff's office as 31-year-old Katherine Altagracia Guerrero De Aguasvivas of Homestead, Florida. The vehicle was badly damaged in the blaze but is also believed to be the Durango, he said. Twelve shell casings and one projectile were also located at the scene, Lemma said.

Authorities are searching for the green Acura and the occupants should be considered armed and dangerous, the sheriff said. A second suspect in the Acura followed the Durango after it left the intersection where the carjacking occurred, though the whereabouts of the Acura are currently unknown, Lemma said.

Investigators believe Altagracia Guerrero De Aguasvivas was targeted, but they do not know why, Lemma said.

"There is no clear indicator why somebody would do this," Lemma said during a press briefing on Friday.

Moments before stopping at the intersection, Altagracia Guerrero De Aguasvivas called her husband and told him that the Acura was following her and ramming into her SUV, Lemma said. Her husband told her not to leave the car and to keep driving, according to the sheriff.

Investigators believe she was forced by the armed suspect to drive to the construction site and that the suspect was familiar with that area, he said.

"This was not a random act of violence, the perpetrators knew exactly who they were going after," Lemma said. "Why they're going after them is something that is a part of our ongoing, continuing investigation."

Lemma said investigators do not know where Altagracia Guerrero De Aguasvivas was traveling. The victim's husband told police she was in the area to visit family, though investigators have not been able to locate any relatives in the central Florida area at this time, the sheriff said.

"There's a lot of things here that are unclear," Lemma said.

Lemma urged anyone with information on the Acura, which has a partially obscured license plate, to contact the sheriff's office.

"This is a tragic incident," he said. "A horrible, frightening situation."