JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Secret recordings made by jailhouse informants are among potential evidence in the death penalty case against a man accused of killing his pregnant niece.
First Coast News obtained thousands of photographs and hours of recordings that could surface at the trial of Johnathan Quiles.
Quiles is the uncle of 16-year-old high school sophomore Iyana Sawyer, who was last seen leaving Terry Parker High School in December of 2018.
He is believed to be the father of the girl’s unborn baby. He is also charged with the sexual battery of a different female relative.
Quiles has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In a wire recording made his first night in jail, Quiles discusses the allegations against him with unidentified inmates.
He calls the charges “bulls****” and says he’s not worried. But he recounts a conversation with his brother in which his brother asked where the missing teen was.
“[I said] what you mean where she at n*****, where f*** you think she at, she tied up in my f***ing backyard. But it was like being sarcastic -- like I don’t know where f*** she at. And this n***** took it to heart. He thought I was admitting I had her in a garbage can somewhere.”
In another jail recording, Quiles is heard talking to two other inmates about the Trail Ridge Landfill. At that time, he was only charged with the sexual assault of another family member, but he says his lawyer informed him that he will be facing new charges regarding Iyana Sawyer.
At one point, the two other inmates discuss how Sawyer’s body may have been discarded. They say they’ve heard it was dropped in a dump and it may have been burned to get rid of the DNA. Quiles doesn’t respond to their comments.
Quiles does say that he knew where his garbage was taken and that at one point he worked for Waste Management.
“It’s one dumpster, the garbage, that dumpster, see now I personally talked to the driver -- and this was way before she even went missing -- I asked him just out of curiosity: 'Where does this dumpster go?' and he said Trail Ridge,” Quiles said.
He notes that by the time law enforcement was searching for her there, there would have been at least three levels of garbage dumped on top.
At one point, one of the inmates says, “You did good getting rid of the body." Quiles doesn’t respond.
The inmates are heard discussing Sawyer’s pregnancy and Quiles says the girl was five months pregnant at the time she went missing.
Another inmate says, “If you didn’t think she was going to tell, why did you f****** kill her, dude? If you didn’t think she was going to tell? Or did you just feel like it was going to hit the fan?”
Quiles doesn’t respond.
He does say the girl had two bags with her when she left school early the last day she was seen, and that she did not have a cell phone with her. An inmate says, “Good, because you know they’d be pinging it.”
The two other inmates repeatedly mention aspects of the landfill and the search for Sawyer’s body, but Quiles does not engage them or respond.
In a brief interview with investigators on Aug. 18, 2019, detectives tell him a grand jury has indicted him on first-degree murder charges. “We would like to talk to you if you’re willing to speak to us,” they offer. He declines, saying he has an attorney representing him.”