Detectives in Lee County are now handling the homicide investigation in the death of a man whose body was found outside a church in Lakewood Ranch.
At about 1 p.m. Friday, deputies with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office responded to Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church, 12905 State Road 70 to reports of a dead body being found near a dumpster. An employee at the church had gone to the dumpster and spotted the body.
The victim is identified as Ted Lee, 58, of Fort Myers, according to sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow.
Jonathan Ruffini, 18; Tyson Hunter, 23; and Lavaya May, 14, have been identified as persons of interest in Lee’s disappearance and detectives are looking for them. Detectives are also looking for a 2015 silver Toyota Corolla with Florida tag K303BN in which Lee was last seen Thursday.
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Investigators combing the church grounds reported seeing tire tracks on the small driveway leading up to the dumpster. The tracks were identified and processed by crime scene technicians.
On Friday afternoon, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office released information regarding a suspicious incident its detectives were investigating. Lee was considered missing then and believed to be in danger.
“We worked with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office last night and continue to,” Bristow said Saturday.
Lee County will be investigating the homicide and will be the agency to release any more information as detectives believe the man was killed in Fort Myers and the body transported to Lakewood Ranch, he added.
No information was released regarding the trauma to the victim’s body or how he was killed.
If you have any information on the whereabouts of Jonathan Ruffini, Tyson Hunter or Lavaya May, call 239-477-1000. To remain anonymous and eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000, call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 800-780-TIPS. Tips may also be made online at swflcrimestoppers.org or by texting a tip to CRIMES (274637) keyword: REWARD