Cops: Murdered man found outside Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa

5:32 PM, Aug 16, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Sitting alongside busy Dale Mabry Highway, the sign on the church reads "Drive With God."

But it appears there was some very ungodly driving at Christ the King Catholic Church. Early Thursday morning, a patrol officer and a church worker discovered a white Toyota at a church entrance and underneath it: the body of a man.

"The medical examiner is taking possession of the body and the autopsy will really determine what type of investigation we have," said police spokesperson Andrea Davis about noon.

Tampa Police homicide detectives, members of the hit-and-run squad, and crime scene technicians spent hours taking photos and measurements. They also examined debris and personal items like shoes -- scattered in the church school parking lot -- near what appeared to be a large blood stain.

And perhaps a crucial part of the crime scene: an empty wheelchair.

Police have not yet identified the man, but people who work in a nearby shopping plaza suspect the victim is a homeless man who hung out there in his wheelchair. In April, police issued him a trespass warning and workers at the plaza last saw him Wednesday at about 5 p.m.

As Dan Gallagher headed to church, all the police activity caught his attention. When informed that someone may have left a man to die at church doors, he offered these thoughts.

"His days in hell are going to be long," said Gallagher, fingering a cross key chain. "It's criminal, criminal all the way."

And police investigators agreed. While no murder charges had been filed, by mid-afternoon they had what they're calling "a person of interest" in custody.

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