Body Found in Trash Bag off Florida Coast Identified as Missing Woman, Investigators Scrambling

Heather Strickland’s stepmother can recall a sound she remembers with joy — a sound she will never hear again. It is the sound of laughter, coming from the daughter who was found dumped in a trash bag 13 miles off Florida’s Gulf Coast. The FBI on Friday identified Strickland, 34, as the woman whose body was found by fishermen on Dec. 10, according to WWSB-TV. Strickland was last seen alive leaving a hospital in Largo on Dec. 5. “She didn’t deserve this. Whatever happens, no person deserves this,” Strickland’s stepmother, Sherrie Strickland, told the Tampa Bay Times. Mental health issues that stalked their daughter much of her life merged with drug addiction as she grew older, according to Sherrie Strickland and Heather’s dad, John Strickland. Their daughter spent time in mental health facilities, they said. “One day she would act like she was 6 years old, and the next day she was on top of her game,” John Strickland said. The days were not all darkness, her parents noted. “She had this laugh that you can never forget,” Sherrie Strickland said. “I think the hardest thing is the way she was thrown out. She was a person.” John Strickland said the discovery of his daughter’s body is a blessing amid the pain, according to WFLA-TV. “It was God’s making sure justice comes,” he said, noting that the FBI is working to find her killer. “They’re putting up poster boards. They went to the media. They’re doing all that they can. … And they’re already getting clues as we speak,” John Strickland said. The FBI, which is the lead agency in the investigation because the victim was found in international waters, is awaiting toxicology tests to determine the cause of death. Sherrie Strickland said she spoke with her daughter a few weeks ago and asked her to come live with them in Lake City. At the time, their daughter was in a mental hospital. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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