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Anti-crime group offers $15K for tips on three killings

MANATEE — Up to $15,000 in rewards is being offered by a local anti-crime group in exchange for information on three 2008 slayings in Manatee that have stumped investigators.

Manatee County Gold Star Club president and county Commissioner Ron Getman announced Monday the club is offering a $5,000 reward for information on each of three slayings.

“These are cases that detectives believe are solvable, but they just might need that one piece of information to give them enough to make a case,” said Getman.

Information is sought in the killing of Luisa Delacruz, 30, whose body detectives found in an orange grove with a fatal stab wound to the neck. Sheriff’s reports say Delacruz was a farm worker on Faulkner Farms.

On Aug. 10, Bradenton police officers received a report that Delacruz was missing from her apartment on 14th Street West. The next day, sheriff’s detectives found her body in the orange grove in the 22000 block of County Road 675, where it had been for 12 to 20 hours, according to sheriff’s reports.

Delacruz had on the same clothes she wore the last time anyone saw her, but a fanny pack she always wore at her waist was missing. Those who knew her said she often carried a significant amount of cash in the pack. Detectives say they believe robbery could be the motive for her killing.

Detectives identified a “person of interest” in the case, but the 28-year-old man fled to Mexico and has refused to return or talk to investigators, according to sheriff’s reports.

In the July 13 shooting death of Damarius Brinson, 31, detectives say two men barged into his home just before 10 p.m. and started to fight. The fight spilled into Brinson’s front yard in the 2100 block of 53rd Avenue West, where the two men both pulled guns and shot him. Brinson’s 9-year-old daughter witnessed the attack.

Sheriff’s reports say a cell phone that did not belong to Brinson was found on the scene, but no arrests have been made in the case.

Gold Star also has offered $5,000 for information in the Aug. 8 shooting death of Ovidio Alex Perez, 35, in front of his home in the 5000 block of 31st Street West. Witnesses said Perez stepped into his front yard to take a call when a single gunshot tore into his neck, killing him. No motive for the shooting has been released.

Anyone with information regarding these cases is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011.

If information given to detectives leads to an arrest and conviction, Gold Star contacts the informant and hands out the reward, Getman said.

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