Former boyfriend of murdered SW Florida woman flees to Colombia from Fort Lauderdale

06/25/2013 6:44 AM

06/25/2013 8:41 AM

Friends of Jazmin Catano, mother of two and Manatee Clerk of Court employee, kept mentioning one person when they were interviewed by authorities about her murder in her West Bradenton apartment.

"Right from the beginning, the name Andres Collazos kept coming up," said Dave Bristow, a Manatee County Sheriff's Office spokesman. "We kept trying to find him Monday. Finally, we realized why we were having trouble locating him: He had flown out of Fort Lauderdale to Colombia in South America Sunday."

Catano, 30, was killed sometime Saturday night, Bristow said. Her body was found late Sunday, at midnight. An autopsy was performed, but results had not been released late Monday and detectives were not revealing the cause of her death.

Collazos, described by Catano's friends as her ex-boyfriend, was working part-time for a local hospital. He officially has been named a person of interest in Catano's death, Bristow said.

"We believe he is from Colombia, but we don't know if he is a U.S. citizen now or has dual citizenship," Bristow said.

On Collazos' Facebook page Monday, Blake Medical Center was listed as his place of employment. Facebook photos also show Collazos wearing fire-fighting equipment at Manatee Technical Institute.

"We now need to develop a probable cause in order to get an arrest warrant," Bristow said.

For friends of the popular Catano, the news about Collazos leaving the country was crushing.

The crime was discovered late Sunday, when deputies were called to Catano's first-floor residence at Coral Club Courtyard Apartments at 5960 36th St. W.

Catano's former husband had gone to her apartment to drop off one of their two children. When no one answered the door, he entered the apartment and realized a crime had occurred, deputies said.

He left and called 911, Bristow said.

Manatee sheriff's deputies responded, and deputies discovered the woman's body in a bedroom.

At 9 a.m. Monday, Christine Clyne, director of employee relations for the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court, got a call from the sheriff's office informing her of Catano's death.

Catano's co-workers at the Historic Manatee County Courthouse were in shock as they learned she had been killed.

"She was a delightful young lady," Clyne said. "I don't think any of us are prepared to be able to talk about this yet."

Catano had moved into Coral Club just a few days ago. The apartment is right across the street from the State College of Florida campus.

Catano was one of 270 clerk employees and worked in the Historic Manatee County Court House in downtown Bradenton.

"Jazmin was a clerk in our criminal division," Clyne said. "She would deal with everything from misdemeanors to felonies. She started in January. Our whole office is in shock."

Residents at the Coral Club apartments were also shocked that violence could happen in such a tranquil place. Ariana Craft moved into Coral Club just a week ago with her husband, Richard. They are having a child and they had welcomed the friendliness of the apartment complex and the overall feeling of safety in the neighborhood.

"This is crazy," Ariana Craft said as she gazed over at the first-floor apartment crime scene, not far from where she lives.

The porch screen was ripped away. Authorities have not said if the ripped screen was part of a struggle or damaged prior to the crime.

"We like it here because it's away from everything and we have a baby on the way," said Craft, who works along with her husband at the nearby Bayshore Gardens Publix Supermarket. "Everyone has been so nice here. This is horrible, so horrible."

"I can't believe this happened," said Lai Wei, a State College of Florida student who lived the next building over from Catano for two years. "Nothing has ever happened here like this."

Residents said they didn't hear any commotion leading up to the discovery of the body.

Anyone with information is asked to call MSO at 941-747-3011, ext. 2518 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.

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