Body discovered in Manatee County orange grove - FOX 13 News

Body discovered in Manatee County orange grove

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Photo courtesy MCSO. Photo courtesy MCSO.

A mother of five was found dead in an orange grove last night, and now deputies say they have identified a person of interest.

Maria Moralez was found shot to death late Wednesday in the Manatee County orange grove where she worked.

Deputies are looking for Joel Ramirez.  He's an ex-boyfriend and the father of one of Moralez's five children.

Moralez's body was discovered when a co-worker went to look for her and found her on a tractor, slumped over . She had been shot.

Moralez lived in Bowling Green, in Hardee County.  Yesterday, the day she was murdered, was her birthday.  She would have been 42 years old.

"She was out there working in the hot sun doing whatever it takes to take care of her family. And it's just a shame that her life ended in this way," offered Dave Bristow of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies say Joel Ramirez did not show up for his job today as a farm worker in Hardee County. Detectives want to talk to him.  

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers.

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