Detectives are investigating an apparent homicide after the body of man was found near a dumpster outside a Catholic church in Lakewood Ranch, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
At about 1 p.m. Friday, deputies responded to Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church, 12905 State Road 70 to reports of a dead body being found near a dumpster.
The man's identity and age have not yet been released.
“Someone who works in the church came out and saw the body," sheriff's office spokesman Dave Bristow said. "Right now we are treating it like a homicide. There's trauma to the body."
Detectives believe the man's body was dumped there but don't know an exact time. But they believe the victim was dumped sometime between 4 p.m. Thursday, when someone had come out to the area and didn’t see anything, and about noon Friday.
The church is just off State Road 70 East, but the dumpster is not visible from the road. Mostly fields and woods surround the church.
"Once you get back here, yes it is a little bit secluded, because the dumpster is located a good distance from the church," Bristow said. "But still you’ve got a major road here just several feet from where the body was dumped.”
Detectives with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office Homicide Investigative Unit are investigating the man's death. Assistant State Attorney Art Brown, who handles homicide cases, was also on scene speaking with detectives. Sheriff Brad Steube and Sheriff-elect Rick Wells had also arrived on scene.
The Medical Examiner’s Office arrived to take the body, and an autopsy will likely take place sometime Saturday. The sheriff’s office has not released any details regarding the trauma to the victim’s body or how he was killed.
The grounds were combed for evidence. What appeared to be tire tracks on the small driveway leading up to the dumpster were processed by crime scene technicians.
Once the victim is identified, detectives will then be able to question family, friends and other associates to start piecing together what led to the man’s death.
The man is not believed to be associated with the church since he apparently was not recognized when found, Bristow said.
Jessica De Leon: 941-745-7049, @JDeLeon1012