Florida woman’s bikini-clad body found stuffed in a trash bag in the ocean
The mystery woman whose bikini-clad body was found stuffed in a garbage bag by a group of spearfishers off Florida’s Gulf Coast has been identified as 34-year-old Heather Rose Strickland.
Strickland’s body was found wrapped in bedding and a plastic garbage bag, floating 13 miles off the shore of Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay around 12:40 p.m. Saturday.
A group of spearfishers made the gruesome discovery after they opened the bag and saw the body of the red-haired, green-eyed girl. The fisherman, however, could only make out that it was a human corpse that had some sort of bra or bikini strap attached to it.
Strickland, who also went by Cherry Rose Strickland, was last seen on December 5 leaving HCA Florida Largo Hospital located at 14th Street Southwest. It is not clear why she was in the hospital or if any of her loved ones were looking for her.
Five days later, his body was found.
Heather Rose Strickland’s body was found wrapped in bedding and a plastic garbage bag, floating 13 miles off the shore of Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay around 12:40 p.m. Saturday.
Strickland attended Cape Coral High School and is pictured here in September 2015
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which has taken over the investigation since the body was found in federal waters, now classifies his death as “suspicious.” WFLA News informed.
It’s unclear how Strickland’s remains ended up in the ocean, but authorities are awaiting the toxicology report to determine a cause of death.
She was originally from North Florida, has been living in Clearwater-St. Petersburg in recent years, the FBI said.
Strickland, who was also a mother, posted a variety of photos of her children to her Facebook page over the years. In a post from December 7, 2012, she is shown holding a newborn photo of her with a man named Peter Cruz.
In March 2021, she is pictured hugging an unidentified man in a post that reads: “It’s funny how people sit and talk bad about each other on Facebook but it’s ok I’m a great mom and I love myself herself, that’s all that matters.” ‘
On February 17, Strickland is shown in a sultry pose that appeared to be her last post before the news of her death.
Strickland was around 5 feet 5 inches tall and had two tattoos: one on the right side of his neck with the letters ‘B’ and ‘E’ written in Old English. The second tattoo is a rose located on the outside of his right thigh.
A map showing the exact location where Strickland was found
On February 17, Strickland posted this image, what would be his last photo before his death.
This Facebook post was an earlier photo of Strickland taken on July 27, 2016.
A March 2021 photo of Strickland showing her with an unidentified man (not pictured). In the post, she wrote: “It’s funny how people sit and talk bad about each other on Facebook but that’s ok I’m a great mom and I love myself too that’s all that matters.”
The red-headed Strickland is seen in a picture from February 16 standing next to a car.
The Coast Guard and the St. Petersburg Police Department were on scene to recover the body of the woman, who at the time was a Jane Doe.
Captain Dylan Hubbard was in a nearby marina when his crew heard the distress call coming from the ship trying to contact the US Coast Guard after finding the body.
Hubbard said they called the ship when they heard the call, but did not expect the captain’s response.
“He said, ‘See that plastic garbage bag in front of our boat? It’s a dead body,'” Hubbard recalled the captain telling him.
“They’re in a small boat, it’s very up close and personal, don’t forget that photo,” he said of the discovery of the body.
But Hubbard added that he hopes this incident will at least give the person’s family some closure.
The FBI said the 34-year-old man was originally from North Florida before spending the past five years here in the Tampa Bay area.
The FBI is asking anyone with information about his death to contact the FBI Tampa Field Office at 813-253-1000 or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov.