Minneapolis homicide detectives on Friday continued their search for a suspect in the case of a man who was found bound and gagged in his south Minneapolis apartment on New Year's Day.

The body of Ricardo Orozco, 49, was found late that evening by a family friend who told police she had gone to his apartment in the 2900 block of Cedar Avenue S. because she needed a place to spend the night, police said.

Police said the woman flagged down an officer about 11:30 p.m. after she found the door to the apartment ajar, saw an overturned ashtray and heard the sound of running water.

The woman, who initially lied to police about her identity, later told investigators that she immediately sensed something was wrong, even though she had not seen the body, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Police returned to the scene to find Orozco, bound and gagged, on the floor near the overturned ashtray, authorities said.

Detectives concluded that the body had been there for several days.

Local officials were briefed about the case shortly after the body's discovery, which wasn't ruled a homicide until two weeks later.

Orozco was the city's first homicide victim of the year.

John Elder, a Police Department spokesman, declined to comment on Friday: "This is a very open investigation."

A neighbor said that Orozco, a native of Mexico, often sat alone outside the stout, three-story apartment building, greeting people as they walked by.

The neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said Friday that officers went door-to-door in the building, asking neighbors whether they had seen anything suspicious.

The cause of death is still under investigation, the Hennepin County medical examiner's office said Friday.

Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter:@StribJany