Friends of Aileen Seiden, the 31-year-old Miami woman beaten to death late Sunday night, April 22 at Sportsman’s Lodge, her body dumped on the side of the road in Eastpoint. will remember a far more beautiful side of her at a vigil this evening at a Miami Beach park.
“She was a wonderful friend of everybody,” said a close friend who asked not to be named, but grew up in the same condo complex and went to school with Seiden. “It’s very heartbreaking that this happened to her. Aileen was a good person, a sweet and loyal friend.”
The woman said she and several of Seiden’s closest friends planned to meet up for brunch in South Florida March 25 but Seiden didn’t show, and she wasn’t at home when they drove by her apartment.
Later, the friend said she got a call in the middle of the night from Seiden, saying her cell phone was broken. When she called back the number, it was connected to a Facebook account for Christina Araujo, a name the friend didn’t recognize.
Araujo, 38, and Zachary Abell, 30, both of Miami, were arrested Tuesday evening, April 24 in Davie by agents of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, charged with killing Seiden. Abell was booked into the Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale, and after a week in the hospital, Araujo was booked into jail in Pompano Beach.
Abell was extradited to Franklin County Wednesday, where both he and Araujo face charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence.
According to the management of the Sportsman’s Lodge the trio of travelers, returning from a road trip to Texas, checked into a single room with two beds, on Saturday evening. April 21.
Well-dressed and well-spoken, the three barbecued in front of their room Sunday, visited the Red Pirate, and even brought back the lodge’s owners, Bob and Edda Ellen. a small gift. “They were all having a good time,” an employee said.
Paid up on their account, the visitors left by early Monday morning, the lodge's staff not yet aware that sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning, there had been a violent confrontation in the motel room.
Later Monday afternoon, when the housekeeper came to clean, she noticed a prominent red spot on the mattress, the sort of mess not unheard of with slovenly guests, but enough to concern the owners to seek additional room charges for the damage. In addition, a drape was torn off, and a shower curtain rod broken.
About 5 p.m. that same day, Seiden’s bludgeoned remains were discovered by passers-by looking to fish in a nearby pond about a mile or so east of Franklin County High School, not far off U.S. 98, in an undeveloped subdivision. Sheriff A.J. Smith believes Araujo and Abell dumped Seiden’s remains at the spot
On Tuesday, April 24, when Sportsman’s Lodge called the sheriff’s office to seek a police report, needed as proof of damages to the credit card company, Smith and detectives were following up a tip received from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office to be on the lookout for a dead 30-year-old female who matched Seiden’s description.
An immediate visit by detectives to the lodge, and a thorough combing of the room by FDLE crime scene technicians, led to another puzzle piece falling into place.
“This is a very serious crime," Smith said at a press conference April 26.
“It’s the most savage beating I’ve seen in my 40 years in law enforcement,” he later told a Miami television station. “She had broken ribs, broken limbs, a busted skull. Just horrific.”
According to the TV report, Abell and Araujo drove back to South Florida after the apparent murder, and related what happened to a friend they were staying with in Davie. That friend later called authorities.
Friends were concerned about relationship
Friends of Seiden said they were concerned about her relationship with Araujo and Abell, which they worried had grown abusive. She shared a home with them in North Miami, and worked with them at Abell’s Automotive, a used car dealership in North Miami where Abell was president and which Araujo is listed on state records as the owner.
Seiden had lost her mom to cancer when she was in the fourth grade, and her dad, well-known Miami businessman Frank M. Seiden, died during her freshman year, so she lived with her older sister Franceasca, who now is an artist in Los Angeles, California.
“She felt very alone in the world,” Seiden’s friend said. “She was a very good, loyal friend.”
She did note that several text messages from Seiden to her friends during the trio’s trip to Dallas concerned them.
“She wouldn’t say where she was,” the friend said. “She kept calling from random numbers saying my phone’s broken.”
In a story on Miami television, Franceasca described her younger sister as “gorgeous, hilarious, and strong-headed.
“She had an affinity for animals. She loved her friends; her friends loved her,” she said. “I’m laying my baby sister to rest. It’s the most surreal thing in the world.”
Aileen's older sister, Deborah Seiden, spent more than 20 years as investigator for the Miami-Dade County state attorney's office, according to a Miami newspaper.
"My heart is broken, I'm devastated," she said. "Especially with the way she died. My sister didn't deserve this. I hope they (the suspects) get the max."
Franceasca said is relieved Araujo and Abell are behind bars. “I do believe in karma,” she said. “What I want is justice, and I want them to never have freedom again.”
Smith has described the relationship between the three “as some kind of a love triangle.
“We believe the male suspect may have been involved with both women. We know he’s abused both women in the past,” the sheriff told a Miami newspaper. “He’s a real low-life, a thug.”
Abell and Araujo have a history of drug arrests, with Abell being arrested on two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance for resale in 2013, found guilty and sentenced to four years’ probation. In 2011, Abell was charged with misdemeanor battery but the Miami-Dade County Office of the State Attorney failed to prosecute the case, the Miami Herald reported.
In October 2016, Abell and Christina Araujo were arrested by Pembroke Pines Police and charged with a misdemeanor possession of cannabis. They pleaded no contest and the judge withheld adjudication.
Araujo’s father, Tony Araujo, is a colonel with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, a 36-year veteran of the force and the agency’s fourth highest-ranking official.
Seiden had no criminal record.