A city worker at St. Petersburg's Lake Maggiore Park heard moans around 11:30am March 1, ultimately following them to an injured and bloody woman lying at the base of a group of trees. Responding police found that she'd suffered "severe trauma," per investigators; she was taken to a hospital, but she died Wednesday morning. She has been identified as Christie Lynn New, a 43-year-old mother of a 9-year-old girl, and Florida authorities are now asking the public for help with the investigation, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Evidence shows she "didn't do this to herself," a police spokesperson tells WFLA. The worker who found New thinks she may have been beaten elsewhere and left in the park after 7:30am, since he didn't see her on his morning rounds.
Police aren't sure why New was in St. Petersburg; her family says the stay-at-home mom, who also owned horses and took part in equestrian competitions, lived in Key West and also spent time at a home her family owns in North Carolina. Her family says she had recently driven her horses to Ocala to see a trainer, and they believe she met with a male acquaintance there; he may have been the last person to see her alive. Police have spoken to him, FOX 13 reports. New had also been spotted Feb. 28 in an area around 8 miles from where she was found injured. "If you saw her or have any information about Christie New, you could be eligible for a cash reward (of up to $3000) from Crimestoppers (1-800-873-TIPS), if your tip ... leads to an arrest in this case," the St. Petersburg Police said on Facebook.