LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – She's being called "Julie Doe." For nearly 30 years, her identity and cause of death along the wooded green swamp area in Lake County have remained a mystery.
All that time, investigators and medical examiners thought the decomposed body was perhaps a mother who had given birth to one or more children. That is, until a few months ago, when investigators learned Julie Doe was a biological man.
"She was originally identified as a female and it wasn't until 2015 that we got basically a letter in the mail from the lab," said Detective Tamara Dale, the lead investigator in the case for the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
She was in fact a transgender woman with manicured nails, bleached-blond hair, a nose job and breast implants.
When her body was dumped in the woods in 1988, she would have been among a small group of people, living with gender reassignment, and that could help crack the case if police can find the doctor who performed the surgeries, Dale said.
Now, with the help of DNA testing and social media, her case has taken on new interest for a public more aware of transgender people.
"After 27 years, her body is still in a lab in Gainesville, waiting to be identified. So she's never received a proper burial. Her family and friends, wherever they are, don't know the outcome of their family member, they have no closure," Dale said.
Police have now sent clothing found at the scene to a lab for further DNA testing.