ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — As the sun set Sunday evening over south St. Pete, friends and family gathered along the shore of Lake Maggiore to remember 16-year-old Jarvis Deliford.
Deliford found floating in the water surrounded by gators July 4.
“He didn’t deserve this,” his cousin Alexia Allen said. “He was loving, caring, and didn’t do no harm. So for this to happen to him is tragic.”
Those gathered Sunday night said their candlelight vigil was not just about remembering Deliford's life. They are also demanding justice for a death they do not believe was accidental.
“We believe he was not eaten by alligators,” said Allen. “He may have been bitten by them, but that is not the cause of death.”
Longtime family friend Gregory Calhoun, who said he acted as a mentor for Jarvis, agreed.
“I know he didn’t jump in this lake,” Calhoun said. “In my heart, I feel something bad happened to him and we want to know what happened.”
As candles spelling out Jarvis’ name glowed in the evening sky reflecting along the water’s edge, the alligators of Lake Maggiore looked on.
St. Petersburg Police said there were no obvious signs of foul play found on Deliford's body, but family members firmly believe the real monsters were not the gators, but humans—people they suspect were likely responsible for their loved one’s death. They believe he was dumped in the lake by somebody hoping he’d never be seen again.
“We as a community need to stop this,” Calhoun said. "There are too many young people dying. We have someone out there who is a killer-- a cold-hearted killer and he doesn’t deserve to stay out here.”
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