A body found Friday in Osceola County has been "preliminary" identified in court documents obtained Monday as that of missing 16-year-old Alexandria Chery, who disappeared from her Orange County home one week ago.
The prime suspect in Chery's disappearance, Sanel Saint Simon — Chery's mother's boyfriend — was in Orange County court Monday afternoon. He is now being held on no bond based on new evidence filed Monday afternoon.
At 5 p.m. Monday, the Sheriff's Office filed a felony obstruction charge against Saint Simon. There will be a hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday on this charge, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
A prayer vigil Monday night at the Kingdom Church, brought about 100 people together to help pray for Chery and comfort her family.
Sheriff's Office: Probable cause Alexandria is dead
The Orange County Sheriff's Office said it is still awaiting positive identification on the body from the Medical Examiner's Office, but added detectives believe enough probable cause exists that Alexandria Chery is dead.
"We will continue to work with the family of Miss Chery during this difficult time and are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers," said Jane Watrel, spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office."
The results from the medical examiner could take several more days to officially confirm the identity of the body using DNA and dental records.
Family members said a detective had told them over the weekend they were "98 percent sure" the body was Alexandria's, but the Orange County Sheriff's Office said an official positive identification could only come from the medical examiner.
Saint Simon charges upgraded, being held on no bond
The court documents obtained Monday show upgraded charges for Sanel Saint Simon in her disappearance, to tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony.
A motion was filed Monday to increase Saint Simon's bond to $500,000 on the tampering with evidence charge. Saint Simon was in Orange County court Monday for a bond hearing.
The motion states:
On Friday, August 1, 2014 in Osceola County the deceased remains of an individual with numerous similar features and characteristics of Alexandria Fransa Chery was located by law enforcement. The remains located have been preliminarily identified as being those of Alexandria Fransa Chery, and scientific confirmation is still pending.
Saint Simon's bond was previously set at $7,500 on a charge of lying to law enforcement, plus another $1,500 for attempting to destroy evidence.
Deputies said Chery's bedding and most of her belongings were taken from her room. They also found blood splatter in the room that appeared to be covered up by bleach.
Saint Simon, 43, was arrested Wednesday. Investigators said he has not cooperated with them.
According to the court documents obtained Monday, witnesses told deputies they spotted Saint Simon's black Pontiac Grand Am in the area where the body was found Friday off Osceola-Polk Line Road, in a wooded area near the entrance to the Reunion community, just east of I-4 at ChampionsGate.
Deputies said the car's hazard lights were on, and possible blood was found in the back seat.
Prayer vigil Monday night in Pine Hills
About 100 people came together for Alexandria Chery at Kingdom Church in the Pine Hills area of Orlando.
Family and friends gathered to share stories about Chery and pray for her.
"I do want to share this story with the family," said Pastor David Jacques. "I think it’s very important that we share this particular point.”
Pastor Jacques shared with Alex’s loved ones that the day before she was last seen alive on Sunday, July 27 she was at church in the front row, crying out to the Lord for help and eternal life.
“That particular service was our 11:45 am and she sat right there on the front row. We may have not known but God was intervening with her on that Sunday morning. Anybody who was at that 11:45 service seen her at the altar and she was crying out to God. She was the loudest one here at the altar,” said Pastor Jacques.
Pastor Jacques hopes that message gives family members solace in the upcoming days.
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” Pastor Jacques concluded to an “amen” from the crowd.
Friends and family had gathered Sunday at a prayer service Sunday at The Kingdom Church, bracing for the worst.
"In the audience, I saw a lot of tears — a lot of tears," said Kingdom Church member Qushieda Fields. "They were crying, they had me crying and the ladies next to me crying. It's just a sad moment right now. Everybody is in grief."
Chery was last seen alive July 28, one week ago Monday, by her mother at their home in the Hawthorne Grove Apartments, off Good Homes Road near Old Winter Garden Road.