LEESBURG, Fla. — The black tape around the 16-year-old’s head and mouth was so taut that the skin on her neck had folded in, according to court documents.
Aleaya Jackson had been hanging out with her best friend in Tavares when the 35-year-old man she called “Uncle Larry” picked them up and took them to his Bushnell home to party and then overpowered the girls, according to authorities. Aleaya was strangled to death; her friend was tortured and raped but survived the November night of terror, authorities said.
After more than two months on the lam, Larry Peavy was arrested Jan. 12 in a Wal-Mart parking lot that straddles Leesburg and Fruitland Park, authorities said. Aleaya’s mother, Nycole Jackson, 33, of Leesburg said she gave law enforcement the tip that led to his arrest. He is facing charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery.
“If he takes this to court, I will fight tooth and nail for the death penalty,” Jackson said last week. “I want him dead. But I want it to be a slow death.”
Jackson said she couldn’t believe what happened because Peavy had been a family friend for years and his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Melissa “Missy” Sturgill, was her best friend. It was Sturgill, Jackson said, who provided the information that led to Peavy’s capture — as well as Sturgill’s arrest for being an accessory after the fact.
The slain teen’s mother said Sturgill told her she was going to pick up Peavy from Fort Pierce on Jan. 11. Jackson alerted the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, and detectives set up surveillance on Sturgill.
After spending the night in a Vero Beach motel, the couple dropped off Sturgill’s daughter at a Leesburg apartment and headed for Wal-Mart, according to an arrest report for Sturgill.
“Once detectives observed Peavy hiding inside of Sturgill’s car, they moved in and arrested him without incident,” Sumter County sheriff’s spokeswoman Michelle Keszey said.
Jackson said Sturgill had known her daughter since she was a year old.
“I talked to her (Sturgill) the day after (she was arrested) — not about a lot, she was crying so hard,” Jackson said. “I was hoping to hear it wasn’t true.”
On Nov. 4, Peavy picked up Aleaya — who loved music, dancing and cooking — and her friend and took them to his home in Bushnell, records show.
Aleaya’s mother said her daughter had known Peavy for years because he lived with her and her family in Leesburg “three different times — and twice because he had separated from Missy (Sturgill).”
“She looked up to him,” her mother said. “She looked to him as uncle and he looked to her as niece. . When she went there that night, I know she felt completely safe.”
Peavy and the two girls drank and smoked weed at his home, where he forced them to take ecstasy pills, according to an arrest report.
By the time the girls went to bed they were uneasy. Peavy was high, acting weird and insisting on sex, Aleaya’s friend, who is not being identified because she is the victim of a sexual assault, told deputies. “Uncly Larry” put a box cutter to Aleaya’s throat after she screamed for help when he tried to put tape over their mouths, the victim said.
He tied them up and bound Aleaya so tight she died from strangulation, according to the report. Law enforcement said he raped the other girl for hours, drinking and popping pills.
Sometime early the next morning, Peavy drove the surviving girl to pick up drugs, according to reports. She fled when she exited the car and called police.
“I can’t imagine what she was going through those last few minutes,” Nycole Jackson said of her daughter. “I think it’s a different type of fear, when it comes from someone you trust.”
Jackson said her daughter was a smart, young woman who liked to hang out with others. She said she talked with Aleaya, who attended Alee Academy, a Eustis charter school, about getting a culinary degree.
Smoking a cigarette outside her home last week, she said, “I just wanted to see her happy.”
Information from: Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/