Deputies investigating murder of 29-year-old Lakeland man

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The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a murder out of Lakeland after the body of 29-year-old Preston Burnett was found in the woods on the old Skyview Golf Course.

According to the sheriff’s office, deputies received a call at around 5:38 p.m. Wednesday that a passerby had discovered man’s body in the abandoned Skyview Golf Course.

Investigators identified the victim as 29-year-old Preston Burnett of Lakeland. They say he was violently murdered.

An autopsy will be conducted Thursday.

Sheriff Grady Judd said that Burnett had been homeless, and detectives believe he had been purposefully targeted and followed.

Burnett's ex-girlfriend told PCSO detectives that Burnett immediately left her home after being dropped off there on Tuesday evening, stating "They might find me."

It is unclear at this point in time who he was referring to. Burnett also told his ex-girlfriend he was in a fight
with two unknown African-American males in downtown Auburndale. 

"We know that someone knows what happened to Preston Burnett," said Sheriff Judd, "There is a $5,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects responsible for his brutal murder. Please call Heartland Crime Stoppers and help us solve this crime."

Detectives are asking that anyone 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, to contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-226-TIPS or log onto

Stay with FOX 13 for updates on this developing story.