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Arrest Made In Death Of Sweetwater Teen

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Her murder shocked the Sweetwater community - now police have made an arrest.

In October 2014, the body of 17-year old Romina Fernandez was found on fire next to a dumpster behind a strip mall just few blocks from her home.

"When they put out the fire they realized that they had the remains of a human that had been burnt beyond recognition," said police Lt. John Jenkins.

Hours before her torched body was found, Romina's parents had reported her missing.

Friends told family that the night she disappeared, she called them and told them in Spanish she could not be friends with them anymore and she was moving to New York with a man.

Click here to watch Joan Murray's report

Fernandez's mother said she knew something was not right because her daughter never spoke to her friends in Spanish - only English.

Her mother later received a letter in the mail with her daughter's handwriting, saying "Hola Mami. I'm OK. I'm going to New York with a friend. He bought me food and my medicine. Don't worry. I'll call you in a month."

Romina Fernandez
Romina Fernandez (Source: CBS4)

Fernandez, who had dropped out of Miami Killian Senior High, suffered from diabetes.

On Friday, Miami-Dade police arrested 66-year old Armando Botell and charged him with second degree murder in Fernandez's death.

Detectives said Botell knew Fernandez.

After the arrest, Andrea Perez, the mother of the victim, says she never met the suspect and that now she's just looking for justice.

According to Botell' arrest report " he had been selling and providing the victim with Xanax and other drugs since the victim was 15 years old."

"Relationship developed into an intimate and stalking relationship," according to the police report, "To the point that the defendant Became obsessed with the victim, eventually paying a friend to follow the victim around."

A witness reportedly told police that Botell "was becoming emotionally distraught over his obsession with the victim" and he reportedly became "physically abusive."

The day Fernandez disappeared, investigators say both of her cell phones 'pinged' off cell towers near Botell's home.

"We don't know if in fact he abducted her or if she went with him on her own free will," said Jenkins.

Surveillance video from the strip mall captured someone in a Mercedes dumping the teen's body and setting it on fire. Investigators said the car belongs to Botell.

During multiple interrogations over the past seven months, detectives noted that Botell's story didn't add up.

"Based on the cell phone tower records and based on witness information his story had changed, at which time he was arrested and charged accordingly," said Jenkins.

Botell, who was convicted of a murder in 1980 in which he served time, is being held without bond.

Perez said Friday that her daughter will never to return to her and that she hopes the suspect never comes out of jail again.

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