FBI Identifies Woman Discovered in Garbage Bag off Pinellas County

The FBI’s Tampa office reported on Friday that the body of a 34-year-old woman from Pinellas County was found in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, wrapped in a garbage bag. In a press release, the bureau identified the woman as Heather Rose Strickland, a five-year resident of the Clearwater-St. Petersburg area.

According to the statement, Strickland is originally from the northern part of the state of Florida. A phone interview with the Tampa Bay Times was conducted on Friday afternoon with Strickland’s stepmother, Sherrie Strickland. “She didn’t deserve this,” Sherrie Strickland said.

According to the FBI statement, Heather Strickland was located on Saturday around noon, about 13 miles off the coast of Pinellas County. Her body was discovered by police in a trash bag, wrapped in her bedding. Her cause of death has not yet been determined because investigators are waiting for a toxicology report.

On December 5th, agents reported that Heather Strickland was last seen leaving HCA Largo Hospital, located at 201 14th Street SW in Largo. Heather Strickland, according to her mother Sherrie and father John, suffered from mental illness for a significant portion of her life.

According to John and Sherrie Strickland, their daughter’s mental health and drug addiction declined as she got older. It was revealed that Heather Strickland‘s parents had sought additional help for their daughter, claiming that she had been admitted to and discharged from several different mental institutions.

“One day she acted like a 6-year-old, and the next day she was on top of her game,” John Strickland said. According to Sherrie and John Strickland, Heather is someone they get along with well. They called her once every few weeks and visited her once a year.

Identity of Florida Woman Whose Body Was Found in Trash Bag off Gulf Coast Revealed (1)
Identity of Florida Woman Whose Body Was Found in Trash Bag off Gulf Coast Revealed (1)

Sherrie Strickland visited Heather in the Key Largo mental hospital a few weeks ago. Sherrie Strickland, who is married to Lake City resident John Strickland, pleaded with her to return home to the area. Heather Strickland denied wanting to move and claimed to be happy in her current residence.

Sherrie Strickland remarked, “She was a beautiful girl… beautiful long red hair, pretty green eyes.” Heather Strickland always looked up to models and aspired to be one, according to her mother, Sherrie Strickland.

When Heather Strickland was young, her aunt Sherrie worked as a manager at a Goodwill and recalled how Heather would sometimes dress in 1960s garb and wear her hair in braids. The photo is a treasured keepsake because it shows the family members smiling and laughing together.

Sherrie Strickland remarked, “She had this laugh that you can never forget.” In addition, that’s something I haven’t heard for a very long time. The five children Heather had were all taken in by adoptive families. Her parents said she loved everyone she met. They are still in touch with Sherrie and John Strickland.

It was said by John Strickland that Heather was a good person despite her flaws. The couple has said that they are coping with the news of their daughter’s death by keeping themselves busy. Funeral arrangements for Heather Strickland are being made by the pair.

The Strickland family is asking for help from the public in solving the mystery of what happened to their daughter, Heather. The FBI needs the public’s assistance in understanding what happened to cause Strickland’s death.

Tips can be submitted to tips.fbi.gov or by calling the Tampa office at (813) 253-1000. That she was thrown out “the way she was” is the most difficult part, Sherrie said. Certainly, “she was a human being.”

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