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Burning body found in open field after bystander initially believed it to be a mannequin: ‘This is a jarring scene’

A bystander encountered a burning body in Ruskin, Florida, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. (Image: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)

A bystander encountered a burning body in Ruskin, Florida, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. (Image: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)

Deputies say a bystander saw what this person believed to be a mannequin burning in an open field, but responding firefighters discovered the truth — it was a dead body. Now investigators are trying to figure out the victim’s identity and determine how they wound up out there, but the severity of the burns are making this a difficult task.

“This is a jarring scene,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. “At this time, our deputies are doing everything they can to determine what happened to this person. We do believe this is an isolated incident, and we will continue to work tirelessly until we determine how this horrific crime occurred.”

The grisly discovery happened Saturday in Ruskin, Florida. According to deputies, the 911 caller told dispatch shortly after 8 a.m. about driving by what seemed to be a mannequin. This mannequin was on fire in an open field behind a residential area in the 1100 block of Will Scarlett Avenue.

Firefighters responded to put out the fire, and they discovered that what the caller believed was a mannequin was actually a person. Authorities determined the victim had upper body trauma, but they could not identify this person because of how bad the burns were.

“Crazy people. Crazy people everywhere,” local man Nicholas Minchew told WFLA. “It’s weird. Don’t know the motives of why you would do that.”

Neighbors told the outlet this was a new neighborhood with ongoing development, and accordingly, the crime was surprising.

Minchew, who said he lived down the street from the crime scene for about two years, said he was doing yard work that morning and did not see or smell anything. Then helicopters arrived and he finally saw a report of the situation.

“Probably someone very angry at someone else,” he said. “I mean, to go that far in that extent to do something, you got to be very angry at someone.”

A Hillsborough sheriff’s spokesperson told Law&Crime there were no new updates on Monday.

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