WEST PALM BEACH — One of two suspects charged with the bludgeoning death of a woman in the Florida Panhandle last week, it turns out, is the daughter of Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Colonel Tony Araujo, the agency’s fourth in command and the head of uniform operations, Gossip Extra has learned exclusively.
Araujo, 58, is a respected 36-year veteran of PBSO and a confidante of Sheriff Ric Bradshaw.
Christina Araujo, 38, and boyfriend Zachary Abell, 30, were charged with second degree murder and tampering with evidence in the death of 30-year-old Miami resident Aileen Seiden, 30, likely in a motel room near Apalachicola.
Araujo, Abell and Seiden, who lived in the same apartment complex in North Miami and were possibly involved in a love triangle, were driving back from a trip to Texas when the murder took place.
A property manager, Seiden also worked part-time for Abell Automotive Inc., a used car and car insurance business.
Araujo and Abell are accused of beating and bludgeoning Seiden then dumping her body in a deserted area in Franklin County on their way home early on April 23. Fishermen found her dead body about 5 p.m. on the same day.
Authorities have not released a motive. But in an exclusive interview today, Franklin County Sheriff Tony Smith said the killing may have been sex related.
“It’s some kind of a love triangle,” Smith said. “We believe the male suspect may have been involved with both women. We know he’s abused both women in the past. He’s a real low-life, a thug.”
Besides, both Araujo and Abell have a history of drug arrests, according to records.
In 2013, Abell was arrested in Miami and charged with two counts of felony possession of a control substance for resale. He was 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.
In October 2016, Abell and Christina Araujo were popped by Pembroke Pines Police in Broward County and charged with a misdemeanor possession of cannabis. They pleaded no contest and the judge withheld adjudication.
The victim had no criminal record.
“It’s the most savage beating I’ve see in my 40 years in law enforcement,” Sheriff Smith said Monday. “She had broken ribs, broken limbs, a busted skull. Just horrific.”
Just as bad, says Smith, is that when the suspects allegedly dumped Seiden, she could’ve have still been saved.
“For all we know, she may have been alive when they dumped her,” Smith said, his voice cracking with emotion. “This is such as sad, sad thing.”
PBSO, meanwhile, did not comment about the chief of patrol’s ties with the alleged killers and Araujo remains on active duty. Several members of the colonel’s family work for PBSO, including two of his three adult children.
Since 1982, Col. Araujo has been promoted through the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major and colonel September 12, 2017. He oversees law enforcement operations in the county’s 17 districts, including municipalities that contract out police services to PBSO.
Incidentally, the victim’s family also has law enforcement ties.
Born and raised in Miami, Aileen Seiden was the youngest of four siblings born into the family of Frank M. Seiden, a powerful Miami businessman who sold furniture to high-profile beach hotels, cruise ships and even Disney resorts.
Aileen’s older sister Deborah spent more than 20 years as investigator for the Miami-Dade Country Office Of The State Attorney.
“My heart is broken, I’m devastated,” said the former state attorney’s sleuth. “Especially with the way she died. My sister didn’t deserve this.
“I hope they (the suspects) get the max.”
Aileen’s other sister, Franceasca Seiden, started a movie production company in Miami called 3GZ Productions and was a promoter of local artists through the organization she founded, Miami Independent Thinkers.