Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube encouraged a mother seeking a new investigation into her daughter’s death on New Year’s Day 2009 to share any evidence she’s compiled with the Bradenton Beach Police Department.
Kelly Osborn, in late March, wrote to Steube asking that the MCSO open an investigation into the death of her 22-year-old daughter, Sheena Lee Morris of Tampa. Morris was found hanging in a shower in a resort room in Bradenton Beach on Jan. 1, 2009.
The BBPD determined that Morris’ death was a suicide, but Osborn believes her daughter was killed, and that the BBPD made mistakes in its handling of the case.
BBPD Chief Sam Speciale has defended his department’s investigation, saying the lead detective went beyond what’s expected and required and that other agencies, including the MCSO and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, have affirmed BBPD’s conclusion.
Osborn, rejecting BBPD’s position, has hired private investigators and an independent autopsy and offered the records to Steube.
“I would like to share these affidavits with you or your homicide investigators,” the mother wrote to Steube. She added, “So that we can finally have a real investigation into the cause of my daughter’s death and get a killer off the streets before this happens to another young woman.”
The sheriff, in a letter to Osborn, said he recalled past conversations on the case.
“Your recent letter states that you have new and compelling information on the case,” Steube wrote. He then encouraged Osborn “to immediately contact the BBPD with that information and the affidavits you mentioned.”
The sheriff also said that BBPD has jurisdiction on the case and “only at their request would the sheriff’s office conduct a review.”
Osborn, two weeks earlier, was told by Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt to have the MCSO request the case files from BBPD if she wanted that agency to review the case.