By KATE IRBY
MANATEE -- A homicide victim was found dead in a car early Monday morning, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
About 6:30 a.m., deputies responded to a report of a burglary in progress in the 5800 block of 11th Street East, but discovered the body of 29-year-old Samuel Edwards fatally injured in a car in the 5700 block of the same street.
Deputies said they could not reveal whether the victim had been shot, stabbed or something else, and were not sure if the homicide and burglary were related. No arrests were made in connection to the burglary.
“We’re trying to figure out if those are even connected. You would think they would be, but we’re focusing on the homicide,” said Randy Warren, spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
Warren could not provide any information on a possible motive or suspect, and said investigators had no exact known time of death yet, only that the victim was dead when they found him at about 7 a.m., the victim did not live in the area and that they suspected other criminal activity had led to the homicide.
“There are some things we might have some hunches on, but we have to make sure we’re confident about that before we release anything,” Warren said.
Deputies obtained search warrants and were going through the trash of neighboring houses. The car the victim was found in was towed as evidence.
The 5700 block of 11th Street East was crowded with Edwards’ friends and family and onlookers on Monday as people tried to piece together the situation.
Edwards’ immediate family, including his mother and sister, repeatedly asked deputies when they could identify the body and expressed frustration that they weren’t given any details.
Edwards’ cousin, Isiah Smith, said Edwards had just gotten out of prison a little while ago, and that he had been trying to do better for his year-old son.
Edwards finished a five-year prison sentence in September 2011 for selling cocaine, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.
Court records show Edwards was also arrested several times for battery, grand theft auto, traffic violations and counterfeiting.
“He tried to go down the straight and narrow, and for this to happen to him like this...” Smith said, trailing off and shaking his head.