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Murder victim found dead in Florida in 1980 finally identified as Vietnam veteran

Murder victim found dead in Florida in 1980 finally identified as Vietnam veteran

More than four decades since the remains of a murder victim were discovered in northern Florida, authorities have now been able to identify him as a Vietnam veteran.

William Irving Monroe III, a US Marine who served in Vietnam, was identified more than 42 years after he was discovered dead by a sheriff’s deputy and partially buried in a hole, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in Florida said in a briefing on Friday.

However, this is not the end of Monroe’s story, as at this time, no suspects are linked to this case.

Now that John Doe #36 has been restored with his proper identity, police have asked the community to contact them with information about Monroe, his time in the area or his murder.

For now, authorities hope that Monroe’s identification has given his family some form of closure.

"While this is an exciting moment for us, we also recognise that it is a bittersweet moment for the family," said Mr DeLoach during the briefing.

"For years, they were working under the assumption that their brother and father had been missing and perhaps had been murdered down in the Virgin Islands. We now know unequivocally that is not the case."

Monroe’s body was found in Pomona Park in Florida in December 1980, however, at the time, authorities could not identify him. Initially, authorities speculated that it could have been a migrant worker.

With the help of DNA testing, William Irving Monroe III’s identity was revealed (Courtesy of Othram)
With the help of DNA testing, William Irving Monroe III’s identity was revealed (Courtesy of Othram)

Yet, what they were sure of was that it was a homicide and had investigated the incident as such since the start of the case.

The man has sustained a gunshot wound to the neck, blunt force trauma to the chest, and a hairline fracture at the base of his skull.

Due to the lack of the victim’s identity, the authorities struggled to get far in the case.

The case went cold, but in 2023, the investigation had a serious breakthrough when Captain Chris Stallings with the sheriff’s office reviewed cold cases and gave samples to Othram for testing.

Othram is a company that specialises in forensic genealogy and worked with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in this case.

Those tests allowed authorities to find Monroe’s brother, Richard Monroe, who agreed to a DNA test that eventually led to the confirmation of his identity.

Monroe was a father of two, and his ex-wife raised their children in Pomona Park.

He was last seen alive on 15 November 1980 by a convenience stroke clerk after he had been in her store, Othram said in a release.

An example of a lab at Othram (Courtesy of Othram)
An example of a lab at Othram (Courtesy of Othram)

Around three days before he went missing, a driver for Simmons’ Labor Camp in Pomona Park, also said he picked up a man in Orlando who described as wearing a t-shirt that matched the one Monroe was wearing at the time of his discovery, they added.

The driver said the man was picked up alongside three other people but around three days after his arrival, the man left the camp and did not return.

Othram said that while Monroe was thought to be living in Orlando, he may have been in Pomona Park because his ex-wife and children lived there.

He had not been in contact with family members for some time when he died in 1980, who added that they did not know his whereabouts, Othram said.

He is thought to have been killed around two or three weeks before his body was discovered.

While Monroe has been identified, investigators are hoping to solve the murder of Monroe. People are being asked to contact Crime Stoppers of NE Florida if they have information. Tips are anonymous and eligible for a reward if leading to an arrest.