TAMPA (WFLA) – The family of missing Florida mother Cassie Carli claims the final texts sent from her phone were a part of a cover-up attempt in the aftermath of her disappearance in the Florida Panhandle.
Speaking exclusively to WFLA Now’s JB Biunno, Carli’s sister Raeann and close friend Kirsty Sullivan say the final texts sent from the missing 37-year-old’s phone to her father didn’t sound anything like her and describe a scenario she would never put herself in.
“The text messages my father received from [Cassie’s] phone were nothing of typical speak my sister would have said,” Raeann Carli. “Especially the claims of car and phone troubles at the same time. She would have walked to the nearest gas station if she had to before getting Marcus for any type of help in a situation like that.”
Carli was last seen leaving to pick up her 4-year-old daughter in Navarre Beach in a custody exchange with her ex-boyfriend and her daughter’s father, Marcus Spanevelo, on Sunday night. Carli was reported missing by her father the following day.
The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office says Spanevelo was the last person to see her alive. Investigators found Spanevelo and the couple’s 4-year-old daughter in Birmingham, Alabama on Wednesday, saying he drove up to central Alabama to work on a job site.
Spanevelo has not been named a suspect or charged with any crime, but Carli’s family says Cassie was worried about him and that the two were working through custody issues concerning their daughter.
“Cassie’s been telling me for the last two years that [Marcus] has been threatening her,” said Cassie’s brother Anthony Carli. “She’s always said, if anything happens to me, it’s him.”
“She is always in contact with her family and friends,” said Raeann. Even during the exchange, she would have texted. Our red flag was Marcus.”
The family says Cassie’s phone is also missing and was not in the purse that deputies located inside Carli’s vehicle.
“Cassie wouldn’t leave her daughter,” said Cassie’s close friend Kirsty Sullivan “The minute I knew she didn’t have her purse, her phone, her car, her child, we knew. We know. We’re just praying [Marcus] makes a good decision and we can find her.”
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson called the disappearance of Carli “very concerning” as he revealed that investigators found her purse inside her car.
“There were things in the purse … we don’t think she would just up and leave,” Johnson said during a press conference. “Usually you don’t go four days without hearing from them, or them using a credit card, cell phone…so yeah, we’re concerned.”
WFLA has reached out to Spanevelo, who has not responded to our request for comment.
“Cassie is she just full of life,” said Raeann Carli. “She is so happy. Anyone who has been around her can just feel her energy… She has touched so many people, not just in our family. She is the glue in our family that’s held us together.”
The family and close friends have been part of daily search efforts in Navarre Beach since Carli went missing.
“We’re really confident in the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department. We feel like they’re working really hard and they’re protecting whatever information they may have because it’s in the best interest of finding Cassie right away,” Sullivan said.
Carli’s 4-year-old daughter is “safe,” according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, who says Alabama Child Services have recently gotten involved in the case. Carli’s family says they want Cassie’s young daughter at home with them.
“She is not safe until she is back with us,” Raeann said.
Carli is described as 5 feet 5 inches tall and 150 pounds with shoulder-length blonde hair and blue eyes. She has pierced ears, and a tattoo of a tribal mark on her lower back.
Anyone with information on Cassie’s whereabouts is asked to call the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office at 850-983-1190.