LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives are trying to figure out who killed a man whose body was found at an old golf course in Lakeland.
Around 5:38 p.m. on Wednesday, deputies responded to a call about a deceased, adult man found in the woods at the old Skyview Golf Course property off Skyview Boulevard in Lakeland.
During the investigation, deputies discovered the body of 29-year-old Preston Burnett, of Lakeland.
His death is being investigated as a homicide.
Burnett’s body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office and an autopsy will be conducted on Thursday.
In a press conference on Thursday, Sheriff Grady Judd described the murder as “vicious” and said he believes Burnett may have been stalked.
“We also know that sometime in the last couple of days, according to what he told Auburndale police officers, he was involved in a fight in the downtown Auburndale area with several men,” Sheriff Judd said that information could be a clue.
He likely hitchhiked or walked to the abandoned golf course from his ex-girlfriend’s house in Auburndale.
Judd also said an investigation revealed Burnett was homeless and was last seen at his ex-girlfriend’s residence around 2:30 a.m. the day he died.
Sheriff Judd said Burnett told his ex-girlfriend he was uncomfortable staying there.
“He said, ‘hey, I got to get out of here, they may be able to find me at your house’ and he left. That’s the last time he was seen alive,” the sheriff said.
His dead body was found at 5:38 p.m. Detectives suspect he may have been killed a few hours prior.
“This person may have been homeless, but he didn’t deserve to die at the hands of some vicious killers. He deserves for his killers to be found,” the sheriff said.
The sheriff’s office is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading up to the arrest of whoever is responsible.
Anyone with information about this crime, or who may have been in the Skyview Golf Course area during the day Wednesday and may have seen anyone, or may have seen something unusual or suspicious, is asked to call 1-800-226-TIPS or log onto heartlandcrimestoppers.com.
ANONYMITY IS GUARANTEED! iPhone and Droid users can download a free tip submission app to anonymously report crime. To install these free apps, visit tipsoft.com.
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