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What killed Terra Ceia’s Kathleen Briles?

MANATEE — Authorities are expected to release details this morning on how a 48-year-old woman found slain in her home was killed.

Kathleen Briles was found by her husband, Dr. James Briles, after he came home from work just before 8 p.m. Monday, according to authorities.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators combed the couple’s property in the 200 block of Bayshore Drive in Terra Ceia searching for evidence in Briles’ violent death.

Sheriff Brad Steube met with Briles’ family Wednesday afternoon at the sheriff’s office to update them on the investigation.

“Basically what I told them was I couldn’t give them a lot of information because we don’t want that information to get out. There’s a lot of work that has to be done on this case,” Steube said. “They had questions. ... We decided it would be best to have them come in.”

James Briles walked out of the sheriff’s office with his family Wednesday afternoon. He declined to comment.

“The family is obviously in a state of grief right now and that will go on for some time,” Steube said.

Briles, who recently joined Bradenton Toastmasters, was working on her associate’s degree at State College of Florida, according to her profile on the club’s Web site.

On Wednesday evening, Bradenton Toastmasters members held their weekly meeting. It was the first since her death.

Becky Smith, a member, filled in for Briles, who was supposed to give an educational speech.

“But something sudden happened, she was murdered, do you remember the surreal feeling you had when you learned the news? Everything changed, or did it?” said Smith in her statement. “What did she teach us: Life is short. Sometimes it’s only 48 years long, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow.”

Cindy Ritchie, treasurer of Toastmasters, said Briles had only joined the organization three months ago with her best friend.

She quickly became involved and was named vice president of membership. On Wednesday night, members struggled on how to fill her vacancy as they went on with their meeting.

“She had such a connection and love for all people she met. You could tell the way she looked into their eyes. ... She was just an amazing person,” Ritchie said. “She believed in living in the moment. She lived every moment to its fullest.”

Steube said he could not release any information on suspects in Briles’ killing at this time. Detectives have conducted dozens of interviews.

“Initially everyone is a suspect. However, we have done a lot of investigating on alibis and at this point in time, the husband is not a suspect,” Steube said. “You continue to eliminate people. Sometimes in investigations, it’s not so much who did it, but who didn’t do it.” Authorities would not state whether Briles’ death was the result of a home invasion.

It’s unlikely Briles’ death is connected to the series of 11 home invasions and attacks earlier this year when a masked man broke into homes in upper middle class neighborhoods targeting mostly women between Manatee and Sarasota counties, Steube said. “We have processed the crime scene and spent almost two days there and we processed a lot of fingerprints,” Steube said.

The suspect in those attacks was wearing a black mask, dark clothing and gloves. He left no evidence to identify himself at the scene.

Anyone with any information about Briles’ death can contact the sheriff’s office Detective Stephen Ives at 747-3011, ext. 2493 or remain anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

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