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Cops: Sketch is generating new tips in home invasions

MANATEE — Detectives are receiving numerous tips generated by a sketch released of a man believed to have bound and beaten an elderly woman in a recent home invasion. He also may be suspect in nine other similar attacks in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office officials Wednesday released the sketch of the man based on the recollections of a witness outside the home where the March 13 attack occurred, in the 8200 block of 19th Avenue Northwest.

In that attack, an 84-year-old woman was pistol-whipped on the head from behind and bound with a cord. The man reportedly spoke of needing drugs, according to sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

A witness outside the home said he saw a man with a red backpack in the area and provided a description for the sketch. A witness in another similar attack in Manatee reported seeing a man with a red backpack in the area at the time of the crime.

Investigators have urged anyone with information on the attacks to come forward. The release of the sketch is an effort to generate leads in a case where more clues are needed, Bristow said.

“The sketch did what we hoped it would do — start generating some information,” Bristow said. “We have things to follow up on.”

Authorities in Manatee and Sarasota are investigating whether the March 13 attack is related to nine other attacks in which older women have been beaten and bound in home invasions. In one similar attack in Sarasota, a woman was found killed in her home.

The latest attack came Monday in Bradenton’s affluent Riverview Boulevard neighborhood. In that case, a man beat and bound a couple in their late 50s or early 60s in their home, in the 200 block of 32nd Street Northwest.

All of the attacks have been in the daytime, prompting authorities to ask Manatee residents to report any suspicious activity during the day. They urged people to lock their doors and close garages.

Anyone with information on the sketch or the home invasion cases can call the sheriff’s office at 747-3011, Bradenton police at 932-9300, or anonymously at Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.

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