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Man found dead in alley behind Seminole Heights homes

An unidentified male who died from upper body trauma was found Thursday in an alleyway between homes on East Mohawk and East Comanche avenues, Tampa Police said. [Times Staff\Anastasia Dawson]
An unidentified male who died from upper body trauma was found Thursday in an alleyway between homes on East Mohawk and East Comanche avenues, Tampa Police said. [Times Staff\Anastasia Dawson]
Published Jan. 27, 2017

TAMPA — Police say a man found in an alley between homes in Seminole Heights Thursday morning likely knew whoever is responsible for his death.

The adult man has yet to be identified by police. He died from upper body trauma in a way that led detectives to believe his death was not a random act, police said.

A construction worker in the area called 911 sometime before 1 p.m. on Thursday after spotting a body in the alley between E Mohawk and Comanche avenues in the Hampton Terrace neighborhood of Seminole Heights, police said. The body was at the end nearest to N 9th Street, which empties on to E Hillsborough Avenue close to the scene.

Residents in the area said police canvassed homes for several hours Thursday afternoon asking for information about what might have happened to the man. Shortly after 4 p.m., no caution tape, patrol cars or police markers hinted that anything had occurred in the well-kept neighborhood of refurbished bungalows.

When Sara Lentz heard the body was found behind her home of a few months on Comanche Avenue, her eyes grew large and her jaw dropped. Tuesday morning a construction crew working on her pool said they heard seven gunshots and someone running down the overgrown alley, she said.

"We hear firecrackers here all the time so we didn't really think anything of it, but now I don't know what to think," Lentz said. "No one ever uses that alley. Sometimes people walk their dogs back there, but I'm pretty sure I'll never be walking back there again."

Police officers who knocked on Leslie Taylor's door Thursday asked her if she had heard any screams, gunshots or other unusual noises behind her home recently, she said. They told her about the man, and said he could have been killed as early as Monday.

"There are a lot of homeless people that walk around here, so that was my first thought," Taylor said. "I wish I had known that before I rented this house. I was thinking Seminole Heights, it's a cool, up and coming area, but no. It's not always nice."

Contact Anastasia Dawson at adawson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.

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