SUMMERFIELD — When Seath Tyler Jackson received a text message from a 15-year-old ex-girlfriend saying she wanted to rekindle their romance and that they should meet at a house, a friend of Jackson's sensed something wasn't right.
"I wouldn't fall for that," 16-year-old Brittnay Jones said she told Jackson.
But Jackson, 15, ignored the advice and went Sunday to the house in Summerfield, about 65 miles northwest of Orlando. There, authorities said, he was beaten and shot to death by a group of teens and young adults. Then, his body was stuffed into a sleeping bag and burned, the remains put in paint buckets and dumped at a remote lime rock pit, authorities say.
Marion County detectives said the crime was unlike any they had ever seen.
Authorities, family and friends said Jackson had a running dispute with one suspect, Michael Bargo, 18, who was dating Jackson's ex-girlfriend.
Bargo and his girlfriend were among six people, ranging in age from 15 to 37, who were arrested Tuesday in Jackson's gruesome death. The five youths are charged with first-degree murder. The 37-year-old stepfather of a girl and a boy charged in the crime, was charged with being an accessory after the fact. Authorities said he helped dispose of the body and helped suspects flee.
Investigators were searching Wednesday for remains in both the fire pit and lime rock pit. They were also searching for the murder weapon, a .22-caliber revolver.
Bargo and friends began plotting Jackson's death weeks ago as retaliation for hitting a girl, said authorities and a report in the Ocala Star Banner.
When Jackson arrived at the ex-girlfriend's house Sunday afternoon, investigators say, Bargo and the 16-year-old brother of the girl jumped him, beating him with an ax handle and other weapons.
Bargo shot Jackson several times, defendants told investigators. When Jackson tried to escape, they said, 20-year-old Justin Soto held him down while Bargo shot him again. Bargo allegedly beat Jackson's kneecaps in a bathtub, then shot him again when he showed signs of life.
Afterward, some group members tied Jackson and put his body in a sleeping bag, which was placed in the backyard fire pit and burned for hours.
His ashes were then put into 5-gallon paint cans, driven to a remote lime rock pit and thrown in, authorities said. The house was then scoured with bleach to get rid of blood.
James Young Havens III, 37, the stepfather, told investigators he arrived after the slaying and helped conceal the crime.
Jackson's parents reported him missing to Marion County authorities Monday, thinking he had run away. Authorities said they learned of the slaying Tuesday, when Havens' wife called to say her 16-year-old son had witnessed the killing.
Bargo, Soto, Charlie Kay Ely, an 18-year-old girl who allegedly helped with the plot, and the minors were arrested hours later and charged with first-degree murder. They were held without bail Wednesday.
Havens was charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and held in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Bargo's attorney, Charles Holloman, said his client did not have a violent record.
"He's had his scrapes, just like a lot of kids growing up, but certainly nothing that rises to this level," Holloman said.