A teenage girl was found dead Monday morning alongside the Chain of Lakes Trail that runs through Winter Haven, and investigators suspect she was murdered.
Detectives are still trying to sort out all the details, but they say the body of 18-year-old Alicia Barnett was found along the trail in front of Carefree Cove.
Barnett was a student at New Beginnings High School in Winter Haven.
"There were obvious signs of trauma," said Gary Hester of Winter Haven police. "That and based off of some of the reports we got from the individual who located the victim, there's no doubt in our mind that we have a homicide here."
Police got the report around 8 a.m. She was found only about 15 to 20 feet off the trail.
"At this point, we can't rule out that it was a random act. But we certainly can't rule out that it wasn't someone who knew her and was potentially known to her," Police Chief Gary Hester told FOX 13 just hours after the murder.
Investigators are not saying how she was killed, just that it clearly was foul play.
Barnett was on her way to New Beginnings, a charter school about half a mile away from where she died.
After school officials found out what happened, they locked down the school, and canceled afternoon classes.
"Not only did she have a positive attitude," said her principal Ashlee Wright. "She was a joy just to be around."
The school will have grief counselors on campus Tuesday morning.
In the meantime, police are beefing up their patrols on the trail and advising people who use it to be extra cautious, and report anything suspicious.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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