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3-year-old found in car along with two bodies in Fort Myers

4:43 PM, Jun 19, 2012   |    comments
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Cha'Riah Owens and her boyfriend, Jerrett Byrd.


FORT MYERS, Florida (News-Press) -- A vigil is planned for one of the victims of Tuesday morning's double homicide in Fort Myers.

Cha'Riah Owens, 16, and her boyfriend Jerrett Byrd, 23, were found shot to death in a Toyota Camry in the parking lot of Gulfstream Isles Apartments around 4 a.m. Owens' 3-year-old cousin was found unharmed in the backseat of the car.

The vigil will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. tonight at First Assembly Cornerstone, 3220 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Fort Myers resident Jerrod Watkins, 16, said Owens was one of his good friends and attended Dunbar High School.

"I woke up this morning and learned who it was, and I just started crying, because I just couldn't imagine her getting shot."

He said Owens, who lived with Byrd, was about four months pregnant. Watkins said friends he's talked to don't have any idea what happened.

"I'm just shocked it was her," he said. "I considered her to be a big sister I never had."

Police are investigating the shooting as first degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to a police department report.

The report, which lists the three victims, says officers were responding to a call of shots fired at the apartment complex when the Camry was discovered.

Byrd was listed as the driver of the car, Cha'Riah Owens as the front passenger and Alicia Owens as the rear passenger.

The two in the front of the car had sustained fatal gunshot wounds, and Alicia Owens, who was found asleep in the backseat, sustained minor lacerations to her face from broken glass, according to the report.

Police didn't say how many shots were fired, but the ground had dozens of markers placed to identify shell casings. A car riddled with dozens of bullet holes was towed from the scene.

Alicia Owens was transported to HealthPark Medical Center for treatment and was placed into the custody of the Department of Children and Families as the agency investigates what happened and decides whether to petition the court to shelter the child, said Teresa Durdaller, a DCF spokeswoman, in an email.

The child is Owens' cousin, according to Fort Myers police.

The department did not have any prior cases involving the deceased as caretakers, she said. The investigator told Durdaller that the child is talkative.

Byrd was arrested in Collier County on charges of burglary and grand theft in 2008, according to the Collier County Sheriff's Office. He spent 19 months in prison on those charges.

In Lee County, he also spent almost five months in jail for charges of carrying a concealed firearm and trespassing in 2007, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Office website.

As a juvenile, he was arrested in Lee County on a charge of fleeing and eluding law enforcement in 2006, and charges of burglary and grand theft auto in 2003.

Owens has no apparent arrest record in Lee County, but her court records may have been sealed due to her juvenile status, according to the sheriff's office.

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