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Manatee County Career Criminal Convicted of Murder in Re-Trial

Story about my involvement in the murder investigation of 34 year old Ingrid Lugo and the subsequent murder trials of her ex-fiance Bryan Curry.

On March 22, 2012, Bryan Lamar Curry, 41, of Bradenton was convicted of second degree murder in the December 2004 strangulation death/homicide of his ex-fiancé Ingrid Lugo. The trial began this past Monday in Manatee County Circuit Court and ended yesterday when the 6 person jury returned a verdict of guilty.

Curry was previously convicted of this crime in March 2008, but won an appeal and received a new trial due to his Defense Attorney, Carolyn Schlemmer erring in the instructions given to the Jury regarding the conditions for finding someone guilty of manslaughter.

Curry has a long rap sheet of arrests to include 24 Felony convictions in Manatee County. Curry was also a long time drug abuser and routinely stole money from his family and forged checks from his mother’s bank account.

I became involved in this Homicide Investigation on December 13, 2004 several hours after the body of Ingrid Lugo was found earlier that day in a retention pond adjacent to 8043 Cooper Creek Blvd, Sarasota in the unincorporated portion of Manatee County off University Parkway. Construction workers arriving for work on that Monday morning discovered Lugo’s body floating in the pond.

During the initial investigation it was learned that Curry had gone to Lugo’s place of employment at the Burlington Coat Factory on Cattleman Road at Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota the day before on December 12, 2004 during the early evening hours. Curry and Lugo had been engaged to be married, but Lugo called off the marriage and the relationship a few weeks prior after learning that Curry was using Crack Cocaine and other drugs once again. Curry was last seen by a co-worker of Lugo’s, getting into Lugo’s car after the business closed for the night. The co-worker reported seeing Lugo drive north on Cattleman Road from Bee Ridge road around 10 p.m. with Curry in the front passenger seat of her gold Chevrolet Malibu. This information was confirmed by Lugo’s brother Raphael, who had spoken to his sister Ingrid just minutes prior to her leaving Burlington Coat factory with Curry.

Raphael Lugo reported the disappearance of his sister Ingrid to Sarasota Police around 6 a.m. when Ingrid didn’t come home and repeated calls to her cell phone indicated the phone had been turned off. Raphael Lugo reported that during the last conversation with his sister she said she was driving to Curry’s place of employment so he could retrieve the $500 he owed her. Raphael Lugo also reported that he called Bryan Curry around 4:20 a.m. on December 13, 2004 and spoke to Curry, who was at his sister’s residence in the Tara subdivision in Bradenton. Raphael Lugo reported that Curry told him that “Ingrid” dropped him off on the side of a road somewhere after he told her he didn’t have the money he owed her and just wanted to talk. There were a few more telephone calls between Raphael Lugo and Bryan Curry with additional conflicting stories.

I was working nights that week as the on-call Crimes Against Person’s Detective and when I arrived for duty around 3:30 p.m. that Monday afternoon I learned of this homicide. The Lead Detective, Tracy Reese and I made contact with Bryan Curry at his mother’s residence in Manatee County around 4:30 p.m. By this time Curry had quickly become a suspect in the murder of Ingrid Lugo. Curry made some odd statements and said he didn’t understand why we wished to talk to him. Curry said that she (Referring to Ingrid Lugo without saying her name) hadn’t been missing 24 hours yet and therefore didn’t understand why we were investigating her disappearance. At this time news of this homicide investigation hadn’t been reported by the local media yet. Curry told us that he couldn’t remember where “She” had dropped him off and admitted that his Crack Cocaine use had clouded his memory and was also the reason for “Her” breaking off their engagement to be married.

Curry did agree to come to the Investigative Division Office of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for a recorded interview, but wanted his sister to give him a ride. A short time later once at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Curry declined to be interviewed and said that his sister was going to hire him an Attorney and had instructed him not to talk to myself and Detective Reese.

Early this same evening Detective Tracy Reese, Lt. Keith Keough, Detective Ken Callahan and I began searching for Ingrid Lugo’s vehicle in the shopping areas near Curry's residence. Detective Callahan quickly located Lugo’s vehicle in the parking lot of the Sun Coast Schools Federal Credit Union, 8700 S.R. 70 East Bradenton which happened to be approximately 2.1 miles from Bryan Curry’s residence where he lived with his mother. The vehicle was found unlocked, with blood in the center console and on the back of the front passenger seat and on the floor board. Women’s shoes, later learned to belong to Ingrid Lugo were found on the driver’s side floor board along with dirt and gravel consistent with that found at the homicide scene.

The following day an autopsy was performed and the cause of Ingrid Lugo’s death was determined to be Homicide due to strangulation and indications of blunt force trauma to the frontal lobe of her brain. Lugo’s vehicle was processed for forensic evidence by Crime Scene Technician Teri DeWitt and I. No finger prints were found inside or outside of the vehicle as it appeared that the vehicle had been wiped down to destroy evidence.

The investigation progressed slowly from this point, Ingrid Lugo’s purse, jewelry and her cell phone were located a week later in the bushes of an industrial complex off Cattleman Road in Sarasota, 1.3 miles north of her place of employment, which was the direction Lugo was last seen driving with Curry in her vehicle as reported by one of her co-workers.

Evidence obtained in this investigation along with saliva and hair samples obtained from Curry were sent to the State Crime lab for analysis and comparison. It was also learned that Curry’s last place of employment was located on Clark Road near McIntosh Road in Sarasota, several miles in the opposite direction Lugo and Curry were last seen heading on the night of her murder. Curry, who had been employed as a parking lot cleaner, had quit his job 2 days prior to Lugo’s murder. The location where Lugo’s body had been discovered was also one of the parking lots that Curry cleaned when he was employed along with the parking lots of the industrial complex where Lugo’s purse, jewelry and cell phone had been recovered.

The pieces of the puzzle were coming together in this investigation. The case at this point against Curry was mostly circumstantial as the evidence had not been examined yet by the state crime lab. Curry was eventually arrested a few months later after he stole his mother’s checks, forged them and cashed them at a local bank.

While in the Manatee County Jail awaiting his trial, Curry made some incriminating statements to his cell mate and later while serving his sentence in a Florida State Prison on the Forgery charges, Curry made several incriminating statements to several of his fellow inmates. Thanks in part to the Cold Case playing cards issued to inmates at the State Prisons and County Jails in Florida, three inmates linked the photo of Ingrid Lugo and the details of her homicide printed on the back of one of the playing cards to statements made by Curry to these inmates linking him to Lugo’s murder.

Curry was arrested in 2007 for Ingrid Lugo’s murder shortly after he was released from Florida State Prison. Curry was tried for this murder in March 2008 and was found guilty of second degree murder by a jury of 6 persons at the completion of that trial. Curry was sentenced to Life in Prison for this crime. Unfortunately, Curry received a new trial and had his conviction overturned due to a technicality caused by his Defense Attorney.

I testified once again is Curry’s new murder trial this past week in Manatee County. Curry looked much the same as he did when I first had contact with him on December 13, 2004. I gave testimony about some of the details of this murder and the investigation, the discovery of Lugo’s vehicle near Bryan Curry’s residence and the route believed to have been driven by Curry from Sarasota to the location of Lugo’s body in Manatee County and then to the final location of the Sun Coast Schools Federal Credit Union. Several other Law Enforcement and Civilian witnesses also testified in this murder trial. Assistant State Attorney Arthur Brown was again the prosecutor on this case.

Upon learning today that Curry was found guilty once again brought me much relief and closure again in what was a lengthy murder investigation. I wish to thank all who assisted in this investigation as follows: Assistant State Attorney Arthur Brown who was the prosecutor on this case, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office employees: Lt. Keith Keough (Retired) Lt. Joseph Perry, Detective Ken Callahan (Retired) Detective Tracy Reese (Retired) Detective Ken Hartman (Retired), Detective Bud Johnson (Cold Case Detective), Crime Scene Technicians Richard Talbot (Supervisor), CST Teri DeWitt (Currently with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Crime Scene Unit), CST Steve Woodford (Retired), The Manatee County Sheriff’s Offices Deputies who assisted at the crime scene and the other Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Detectives and personnel who contributed to this successful investigation, Dr. Russell Vega, Chief Medical Examiner of the 12th Judicial Circuit and his assistants, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Crime Lab, The Florida Department of Corrections, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Sarasota Police Department and all of the civilian witnesses who came forward with information and testified in this trial.

As a Homicide Detective, my job was to speak for the dead and to see that the person(s) responsible for the death are brought to justice. I can say with pride, that I spoke for Ingrid Lugo and her family, I did my job and justice has been served.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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