Michael Kotait homicide victim.

Michael Kotait, homicide victim.

ROYAL — A shocking discovery awaited the Royal community last Saturday morning — a man’s body was found in the yard of a rural home. He was the apparent victim of homicidal violence according to Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) investigators.

The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) is investigating the incident as a homicide. About 7:30 a.m., the discovery of the body was reported to the SCSO, according to a notice from the agency.

The yard was along side County Road 231, about four tenths of a mile north of County Road 462. In the immediate vicinity, there are only a couple of somewhat isolated homes, situated in an area of pastures, less than a quarter mile from Interstate 75.

Deputies arrived at the scene to find the body of 61-year-old Michael Majed Kotait of Winter Garden. As of Saturday, Kotait ‘s cause of death had not been confirmed by the medical examiner, according to the SCSO.

Detectives are working to identify anyone with whom the victim associated in the area so that they can establish a motive for his murder, according to the SCSO notice. Investigators want to learn why the victim was in the area.

The body was not the only discovery connected to Kotait. Just prior to the report of his body being found, the Wildwood Police Department was notified of a vehicle submerged in the water at the boat ramp in Lake Deaton Park. The unoccupied vehicle was a white Honda SUV and registered to Kotait.

The park is located at 5300 County Road 155 in Wildwood. The location is about nine miles southeast of the Royal yard where Kotait’s body was found. Wildwood Police Department turned its portion of the investigation over to the SCSO.

Detectives will be following up leads and conducting interviews with associates and potential witnesses.

As of Monday, there were no updates available on the status of the investigation. Future updates will be issued as new information can be released by investigators, according to the SCSO.

Investigators ask for anyone with any information about this case to contact the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at 352-793-2621 or, to remain anonymous, call Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (8477).

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