The surveillance camera at the car wash showed a man in a uniform type shirt approaching Carlie, saying something to her, and then leading her away. NASA, with technology used in the investigation of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, assisted the investigation by working with the video to enchance the image. The FBI also worked to help find Brucia and the man who abducted her.
After receiving tips as to the identification of the man, the Sarasota police questioned Joseph P. Smith, who had been in their custody since the day after Carlie was abudcted on an unrelated parole violation charge. A woman who said she lived with Smith was one of the tipsters who contacted the police. Smith refused to admit to any involvement with Carlie Brucia's disappearance until Thursday, February 5, when he finally told investigators where he hid her body.
On February 6, it was announced that Carlie Brucia's body had been found. She had been murdered and left in a church parking lot just miles from her home.
Joseph P Smith, a 37-year old car mechanic and father of three who had been arrested at least 13 times in Florida since 1993, and had been previously charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment, was held in custody as the main suspect in the murder of Carlie Brucia.
On February 20, Smith was indicted on a first-degree murder and separate charges of kidnapping and capital sexual battery were filed by the Florida attorney's office.
Friends and family of Carlie Brucia described her as a beautiful young girl who loved going the mall, loved Jennifer Lopez, enjoyed time with her friends and loved her cat named Charlie.
Tifanny Meeks described her friend Carlie to Fox News as,"...loving and caring. She doesn't like to see other people hurt. She'd be really crying if this was one of us or someone else she knows."
Should Smith Have Been In Prison?On December 30, a month prior to Carlie Brucia's murder, a probation officer asked Circuit Judge Harry Rapkin to declare Smith in violation of his probation due to unpaid fines and court costs he was obligated to pay. The Judge did not find Smith in violation and let him remain free.