UNSOLVED: Mom says son was murdered, wants answers after body found near gators in St. Pete

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – They came together to remember, to pray to grieve. Family and friends of Jarvis Deliford still can’t believe he’s gone. They also want answers about his death and the circumstances surrounding the discovery of his body.

The remains of the 16-year-old St. Petersburg teenager were found in Lake Maggiore surrounded by multiple alligators on July 4th. The question is – how did they get there? Did he fall in the water?

Or, did someone dispose of the body?

The teen’s mother says her son was killed on purpose. She just wants to know who did it and why. She says her heart is breaking, as is the rest of the young man’s family who misses him terribly and wants justice.

Those who loved him most gathered on Tuesday night at Lake Maggiore Park for a memorial. They formed a circle, held hands and called on the Lord. “We’re weeping tonight, we crying tonight, we trust that joy is on its way,” said Corey Gibens, Jr. from the NAACP.

Emotions ran high as friends and relatives shared their grief over this loss and their joy from the moments spent with Jarvis.

“That’s why I’m here, I need justice for Jarvis. I’m Jarvis’ voice. I need someone to come forth,” said Regina Wooten, the teen’s mother. She says she prays each day as she tries to focus on the good times with her son.

His was a life taken far too soon.

“Someone murdered my child, someone murdered my child,” she told 8 on your Side.

The news of his death was, indeed, shocking to those who knew this young man. The teen was trying to start over, forging a new path after a troubled past.

Jarvis was arrested last month on burglary charges and released from a juvenile detention facility on June 29th.

“He was on an ankle monitor, he had released from juvenile detention earlier that day and was on an ankle monitor and he cut that off,” said Lt. Matthew Furse from the St. Petersburg Police Department.

At this time it is not known why he cut off the monitor and why Deliford was at the lake.

“It would have to be a medical examiner determination to see if the gators came before or after,” police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said earlier this week. “At this time we can’t say it’s an alligator attack, but they were around the body and that made it more difficult getting to it.”

At this time, there are no obvious signs of foul play, according to police. However, detectives are still looking at every possibility as they await an official autopsy report to determine a cause of death.

“I’m demanding justice for my son because there’s no way my son came out here and made a mistake and fell in this lake. He did not know how to swim,” said his mother.

Loved ones of the teenager just want answers.

“Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children,” said Gibens. “It’s not supposed to happen like that. We need to come together. I think we need to come together to say, this child will be the last child to die a senseless death.”

For now, Jarvis’ mother says she’ll continue to pray.

And, she’ll continue to ask questions about what really happened to her son. She wants to know how his body wound up in an alligator-infested lake, a place she insists he would never, ever go.

“So, there’s no way he slipped and was out here fooling around and he ended up and drowned. Someone murdered my child,” said Regina. “I know someone murdered him.”

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