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No forced entry in Lakewood Ranch homicide victim’s home, sheriff's office reports

MANATEE -- Detectives found no evidence of a forced entry at the home of a 78-year-old Lakewood Ranch woman found dead Monday, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

In a news release, the sheriff’s office said that detectives “believe that this case is not related to a random burglary, home invasion or an attempt to rob the victim.”

Ina Gross’s body was discovered Monday morning by her 57-year-old son, Tom, in the two-car garage of her home in the 11000 block of Hyacinth Place. He called 911, the sheriff’s office said.

The search warrant executed at Gross’s home was released Thursday. Investigators took several items from her home, including Tom Gross’s Israeli and U.S. passports, according to the warrant.

Tom Gross was visiting from Israel and staying at his mother’s home.

There is still evidence being processed, including telephone calls, neighborhood surveillance video and DNA, the sheriff’s office said.

“Results of these tests could take an undetermined length of time,” the release said.

Investigators executed the search warrant at Gross’s house at 10:33 a.m. Monday, about five hours after Tom Gross called 911. They collected dozens of items, including two cell phones, a suitcase, two broken shower curtain rings from the kitchen garbage, five towels from the garage floor near Gross’s body, two computers, and a knife from the garage.

Gross’s 2010 Honda CRV was also removed from the garage, the warrant shows. Details on Gross’s cause of death are still not being released pending further testing by the medical examiner’s office and forensic evidence processing by the sheriff’s office, the release said.

Gross’s death is the latest in a string of three homicides within the first nine days of the year.

On Jan. 6, 22-year-old Christopher S. Stokes was shot dead inside an abandoned house in the 500 block of 28th Avenue West, Bradenton. On Jan. 1, 26-year-old Rashawn Scott was shot dead inside a rooming house in the 2300 block of Fifth Avenue Drive East, Palmetto.

No arrests have been made in any of the homicides.

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