CSI deputies comb Briles property

TERRA CEIA — Investigators canvassed through brush and tall grass Wednesday afternoon searching for more evidence in the homicide of a 48-year-old woman who was found bound and beaten to death in her home.

Kathleen Briles was found by her husband, Dr. James Briles, after he came home from work Aug. 3.

Investigators estimate she was killed between 2 p.m. and just before 8 p.m.

Items were found missing from the home in the 200 block of Bayshore Drive and there were no signs of forced entry, according to authorities.

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube would not say what was recovered at the scene after about 20 deputies combed the nearly one-acre Briles property across Bayshore Drive from Terra Ceia Bay. They also expanded their search to neighboring pieces of land along the road.

Investigators came back with at least one brown paper bag of possible evidence after searching for a couple of hours with storms thundering in the distance.

“We did a more thorough search,” Steube said. “They did a shoulder-to-shoulder search through the woods and did another cross search.”

Briles’ family members hung back near their home talking with a sheriff’s office victim’s advocate and meeting with investigators. They declined to comment.

Investigators initially set up a crime scene for about two and half days when Briles’ body was discovered.

This week investigators sent DNA evidence found at the scene to a private lab. Results could take between 10 days and two weeks to come back, Steube said.

“We don’t know whose DNA is behind at the scene at this point,” Steube said.

The DNA will be cross-checked with local, state and federal databases of people with criminal histories.

Investigators are also making comparisons of fingerprints left at the scene.

“We have to do an elimination of prints from relatives and people who would have been inside,” Steube said. “We’ll be able to compare what we found and eliminate them.”

Steube said the sheriff’s office is still in the process of comparing prints.

“The fact that we have so many elimination prints against what we located inside and outside the residence — it would obviously take longer,” he said. “We’re just being very methodical about what we’re doing. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.”

Steube would not comment on whether the sheriff’s office has viable suspects.

Steube said even though it appears the suspect is not the same person possibly responsible for more than a dozen home invasions between Sarasota and Manatee counties earlier this year, prints would be compared to evidence left at the scene in Sarasota.

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

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

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