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Man was beaten to death, police say

Detectives don't have a motive or a suspect yet in St. Petersburg's fifth homicide of the year.

A 43-year-old man was found beaten to death in his house Thursday evening, and police were investigating.

A friend who went to visit Kelly Eskridge found his body in the home at 2488 17th Ave. N in the North Kenwood neighborhood, police said.

The motive for the killing was unknown. Detectives had no suspects.

"We're talking to neighbors, relatives, associates," said police Sgt. Mike Puetz, head of the city's homicide squad. "It's sketchy right now."

Eskridge was seen alive Wednesday evening by a relative, Puetz said. Eskridge's friend found the body about 5 p.m. Thursday.

Police cordoned off the house, yard and street with yellow tape.

Tired homicide detectives, who had spent Wednesday night and much of Thursday investigating an attempted murder on Central Avenue, found themselves at another crime scene. A forensics team combed the small white house for evidence.

Soon more than a dozen neighbors were watching, anxious to know what had happened.

On this street five blocks south of a commercial area on 22nd Avenue N, neighbors said they were accustomed to a certain amount of crime. But this was different.

This was St. Petersburg's fifth homicide of the year.

The other homicide victims included a 26-year-old man shot in the Harbordale neighborhood, a 42-year-old grandmother burned behind a church at 2800 26th Ave. S, a 33-year-old man shot outside 991 Melrose Ave. S, and a 17-year-old shot in an alley near 22nd Avenue S and Eighth Street.

The city had 16 murders last year, the lowest number since 1975.

Anyone with information about Eskridge is asked to call St. Petersburg police at 893-7780.