The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App

Sarasota Sheriff's Department seeks information about suspect in murder of Karen Courts

Karen Courts
Sarasota County Sheriff's Department
Sarasota Sheriff's Department seeks information about suspect in murder of Karen Courts
Karen Courts
Sarasota County Sheriff's Department

(CBS) - Karen Courts was a loving grandmother and friend who loved spending time with her grandson and was active in her church. So how did she end up dead in her Sarasota home? Sarasota County Sheriff's investigators hope someone will come forward and tell them.

After being unable to reach her, Courts' family grew worried and on March 31 they asked authoirites to perform a welfare check. What deputies found shocked her family and friends.

Investigators say they found Courts dead in her house at 1:45 p.m. and discovered that two televisions were missing from the home as well as Courts' Volvo.

Just before deputies arrived at Courts' house, a neighbor down the street called 911 to report that his house had been ransacked, saying a back bedroom window had been smashed and about $25 in cash stolen. The resident, who asked not to be identified, saw patrol cars on his street shortly after calling 911 and thought they'd come to the wrong house, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

"I saw the police cars pull up not too long after I called 911, so I went outside, that's when I found out what happened to Karen," the neighbor said.

Sarasota County Sheriff spokesperson, Wendy Rose, says investigators have not confirmed whether the two incidents are related.

Rose also wouldn't say how Courts died, hoping to hold on to that piece of evidence to catch her killer, but she says investigators found Courts' Volvo abandoned at a nearby mall.

Surveillance video from that mall parking lot - which can be viewed in the video below - shows an unidentified suspect sitting in the car for almost an hour before getting out, then dumping the keys in a trashcan and disappearing.

When the car was recovered, forensics investigators found that the car had been completely wiped down and cleaned out, Rose said. She also said investigators found no evidence that the suspect went into the mall but they also don't know where he or she went after that.

Courts' daughter, Robin Wild, has been too distraught to speak to the press, but her husband, Randall, said at a press conference that the family was devastated by the loss and pleaded with the public to help find the killer.

"Our daughter and our son, she meant everything to them, she meant everything to us," Wild said. "I just want to make a plea to anybody out there...if you know, or have any information, please come forward."

Sarasota investigators ask that anyone who recognizes the suspect in the video or knows anything about this shocking crime to call the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office at 941-861-4900 or Crime Stoppers at 941-366-8477. There is currently a $1,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of this suspect.