Missing car of Manatee homicide victim fished out of water in Hillsborough County

MANATEE -- Manuel Galindo-Oquendo's 2001 silver Chrysler PT Cruiser was found Sunday morning partially submerged in a body of water in Hillsborough County near Mulberry, the same town where the Del Monte Foods worker lived.

Detectives, who had been seeking the car since Friday, can process the vehicle for clues to help find who killed Galindo-Oquendo, said Dave Bristow, a Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

The 32-year-old victim was a Puerto Rico native whose body was found by a local resident in a rural part of Manatee County at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

"Someone saw the vehicle today and it was towed out and we have brought it back to Manatee County," Bristow said Sunday.

When Galindo-Oquendo's body was found on the side of Davis Grade Road, several miles from State Road 62, near Duette in eastern Manatee County, it showed obvious signs of trauma. His death is being treated as a homicide, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Someone tried to get rid of the car in Polk County, Bristow said.

"It's hard to say but it sure looks like that is what they were trying to do," Bristow added. "Now, we just have to wait to see what processing the car turns up."

The sheriff offices of both counties are also asking the public to help if they saw Galindo-Oquenda in the days leading up to his death.

"We would encourage anyone to come forward who has information," Manatee County Detective John Kenney said. "He was obviously left in a very rural area attempting to conceal the body."

Initial observation by investigators estimate Galindo-Oquendo was killed Wednesday. An autopsy was conducted Friday afternoon.

Detectives from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office Homicide Investigative Unit are in Polk County looking for past associates and relationships, according to Kenney, lead investigator on the case. The unit is working with the Polk County Sheriff's Office on the case.

Galindo-Oquendo, a father of three, recently moved from Virginia about two months ago through his job at Del Monte after he was recruited from Puerto Rico.

Detectives don't know a motive for his killing, Kenney said.

Anyone with any information should can call Kenney at 941-747-3011, Ext. 2216, or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.