Manatee deputies investigate Palmetto murder

6:07 PM, Oct 25, 2012   |    comments
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Palmetto, Florida- Manatee Sheriff Deputies say they have tentatively identified a murder victim whose body was found early this morning in Palmetto. 

Investigators are waiting on fingerprinting results to confirm her identity.

"It's why we moved out here- to get away from stuff like that," says John Batchelor. He moved to the rural area of Palmetto a year ago with his dog Jesse. Batchelor says, "This is all farming; a real quiet neighborhood."

Until this morning. That's when Manatee County Sheriff's deputies and a forensics team members showed up to the area of 24th Ave. East and 29 St. East. 

They say a couple on their routine morning walk found the body of a black woman, possibly in her 40's, lying face down in a dirt road outside a plant nursery driveway.

"There are signs of trauma, and that's all we're gonna say. We're treating this as a homicide case." Dave Bristow, a spokesperson with the Manatee Sheriff's Office said. "We don't think she's been here long- it happened sometime overnight. We think she was dumped here, not killed here, but we're not certain of that yet."

Batchelor says he's a bit concerned. "What's scary is it could be someone who lives around here."

The forensics team had nearly finished working on the crime scene when a new, potential piece of evidence turned up. A motorist found a black purse on the road outside an abandoned apartment complex- just a few blocks from where the woman's body was found.  

"This purse I found laying on the road in front of the apartments with the broken windows," she said.

A forensics technician photographed the purse, then bagged it. There were personal items inside. 

The stunned motorist, realizing she may have found a key piece of evidence, said, "You reckon that's her purse?" 

Investigators have not said if that black purse belongs to the victim. The Medical Examiner's Office is doing an autopsy to help determine the cause of death.

Isabel Mascarenas

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