A man in Jacksonville, Florida, has been found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual battery, and the murder of his teenage niece’s unborn child. Johnathan Quiles, aged 38, was convicted after a one-hour deliberation by a Florida jury.

The victim, 16-year-old Lyana Sawyer, disappeared in 2018, and although her body was never recovered, the jury concluded that Quiles killed her and her unborn child in December of that year. Ms. Sawyer was last seen on December 19, 2018, leaving her high school during lunch to visit a junkyard where Quiles worked.

It is believed that Quiles killed her, disposed of her body in a dumpster, and concealed or destroyed it at a landfill. Quiles’ defense argued that the girl might still have been alive, attempting to prevent the use of the term “victim” for Ms. Sawyer.

After six days of presenting evidence, including testimony from other family members who claimed he sexually assaulted and sent inappropriate messages to them, the jury reached a guilty verdict. The key witness for the prosecution was Quiles’ own brother, Joseph, who stated that Quiles had confessed to him that he had murdered the girl and disposed of her body.

Johnathan Quiles feared potential family alienation if Ms. Sawyer gave birth to their child. The state is seeking the death penalty for Quiles, with the sentencing phase scheduled to begin on Monday, September 25.

Family members of Ms. Sawyer expressed satisfaction with the verdict, with their attorney, John Phillips, stating, “Today, a nearly 5-year nightmare ends with another measure of justice.” They thanked the jury, law enforcement, the judge, and their support network during this difficult time.