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Homicide victim’s car found

MANATEE — Authorities this morning located the missing vehicle of a 22-year-old Sarasota woman found dead last week.

Just before 7 a.m., Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives found the black 1996 2-door Dodge Avenger that belongs to homicide victim Lauren Whitney Lichon in the parking lot of Whitfield Business Center at 7050 15th St. E., said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

Deputies learned the car’s location from a passerby who told authorities they had seen media reports that officers were looking for it.

The car did not appear to be damaged, according to Bristow.

“We’re going to process it and see what we can find,” he said.

The car was found near a vacant unit in one of three buildings that make up the Whitfield Business Center. The vacant unit used to house a mechanic shop, and has been empty for a year, according to an employee.

The employee, who asked not to be named, said the car was not there when she left work Monday evening. When she arrived for work this morning, she found investigators examining the car.

"It must have shown up overnight," she said.

"Someone must have known there were not cameras in the area."

Investigators on Monday had asked for the public’s help in finding the vehicle, hoping it could help them crack the case.

A mosquito control worker discovered Lichon’s body just after 2 p.m., Thursday in a field off North Rye Road in East Manatee.

As of Monday, there were no suspects in the case.

Authorities said they believe she may have been killed between 1 and 2 p.m.

Lichon was found with trauma to her upper body, according to officials.

Sheriff’s office investigators used fingerprints and dental records to determine the identity.

Anyone with information on the case can call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011 or Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.

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