NAVARRE BEACH, Fla. - Alabama's St. Clair County coroner will perform an autopsy Monday to determine the cause of Florida woman Cassie Carli's death, after officials said the young mother was found buried in a shallow grave in a barn on property investigators say is connected to her ex, Marcus Spanevelo.
St. Clair County Coroner Dennis Russell told Fox News Digital late Sunday that the 37-year-old woman's body was recovered from a property along Highway 11 in Springville, Alabama, roughly 30 miles northeast of where police first caught up to Spanevelo in Birmingham. Florida's Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson told Fox News Digital her body appeared to be intact when they made the discovery on Saturday evening, and said there were no obvious signs of trauma.
Johnson said investigators had obtained evidence to form "a great case" against Spanevelo.
"He was totally uncooperative. He never cooperated at all with us," he said. "It’s your baby’s mother and she’s missing, and you’re not going to cooperate with authorities. That’s kind of telltale."
Marcus Spanevelo booking photo (Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office)
He said the couple’s daughter is being regularly checked on by authorities until Carli's family is reunited with her.
"Once the autopsy is done and you see the charges filed, you'll understand, but I think we have a great case," he told reporters. "I think he's either going to spend the rest of his life in prison, or he's going to get the needle. Hopefully the needle."
Meanwhile, Carli's loved ones announced Sunday their plans to create a foundation in her honor for other women who have fallen victim to domestic violence.
Cassie Carli seen in this undated photo provided by the family (Photo courtesy Carli family)
Sam Graves learned early Sunday that she had lost one of her closest friends, Cassie Carli, who was practically family to her. But in the sadness of the news, she set out on a mission to help other women who might be in similar situations.
In that moments after learning the news, she scrawled a note: "The Cassie Carli Foundation, Rescuing women from the grips of [domestic violence] and then keeping them safe," the note states.
"I could have never imagined that we would be here today doing this for Cassie, though we all know she said many times – she cried out so many times for help, and always said, 'If something ever happens to me, it’s Marcus,'" Graves said during a sunset vigil in her honor. "There are so many women in this world right now who are in the same situation."
A crowd gathers at a vigil for Cassie Carli, a Florida mom who was found dead and buried in a shallow grave in a barn in Alabama on April 2, 2022. (Fox News Digital/Stephanie Pagones)
She added: "And just like we showed up for Cassie, and we were committed to not go home until we could bring her home, I will live every day, the rest of my life, fighting for women in domestic violence situations. I will spend my last dollar making sure that they are safe."
Graves and her significant other, Greg Cole, were among a handful of Carli’s close friends, who spearheaded the search for the 37-year-old woman after she disappeared on March 27.
On Sunday, the pair joined an estimated 100 people who attended the sunset vigil in memory of Carli, just hours after Sheriff Bob Johnson announced investigators found her body in a shallow grave inside a barn in Alabama.
"I want to prevent this. Period," Cole told Fox News Digital at the vigil. "That’s the desire, is to prevent this from happening. As much goodness is coming from it, I think we all would rather have Cassie here."
A crowd gathers at a vigil for Cassie Carli just hours after Sheriff Bob Johnson announced investigators found her body in Alabama on April 2, 2022. (Fox News Digital)
Graves and Cole told Fox News Digital women had already approached them at Sunday’s vigil about potentially needing the guidance and assistance the foundation would offer.
Carli was last seen on the evening of March 27, while meeting her daughter’s father, Marcus Spanevelo, in the parking lot of a beachside restaurant, Juana’s Pagoda, not far from her home in Navarre. Investigators later recovered her vehicle, with her purse inside, and confirmed the couple’s 4-year-old daughter was safe. Her disappearance prompted missing persons searches by law enforcement and family for nearly a week.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said Thursday investigators located Spanevelo more than four hours and over 260 miles away in Birmingham, Alabama, where they questioned him and were able to check in on the couple’s daughter.
They arrested him on Saturday morning during a traffic stop in Lebanon, Tennessee, and charged him with tampering with evidence and destroying evidence – in connection with his alleged disposal of Carli’s cellphone – and giving false information concerning a missing person investigation, officials have said.
Spanevelo is expected to face additional charges after an autopsy is completed Monday, which will reveal the cause of death.
Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson at a press conference on Sunday. (Fox News Digital / Stephanie Pagones)
Johnson said he personally notified the family of the discovery of Carli’s remains on Sunday morning, and added, "They’re crushed."
"We hate it, that Cassie has passed away," he said. "But it’s good to get closure for the family, and it’s good to keep this dirtbag in jail where he belongs."
After Sunday’s vigil, Carli’s younger sister, Raeann, told Fox News Digital: "Cassie warned us all – the law, everyone – and we should have listened."
Fox News' Paul Best and Francesca Walton contributed to this report.