A person looking into the suspicious 2010 death of a Florida mother has been found deceased, the New York Daily News reports.
The unidentified individual was found dead Thursday in their home in St. Augustine, Florida, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. The victim, “a person who identified as both male and female,” according to CBS, was found shot to death.
“The information that we have from people that we have talked to is the person does identify as both a male and a female going by a male name and then also a female name as well,” Putnam County Major, Steve Rose, said.
The unnamed person had been conducting an unofficial inquiry into the death of Michelle O’Connell. Officials had ruled O’Connell’s death a suicide, but her family rejected that finding and claimed she was murdered by her boyfriend, who was a sheriff’s deputy with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office.
Then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott had ordered an independent investigation that supported the suicide determination.
The case has received national attention, including from The New York Times and PBS Frontline, with one line of inquiry that the boyfriend killed O’Connell because she was preparing to leave him. A judge ruled last year that a state investigator had probable cause to investigate that possibility, according to PBS.
A neighbor of the person who died Thursday said he was surprised to hear about the death.
“I’m shocked that something like this, especially in a secured area like this, would happen,” Andrew Applegate told WJXT-TV. “The security guys are very diligent in how they conduct their operations here to keep us safe.”
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office initially responded to the report of the dead person on Thursday, but the agency turned the matter over to Putnam County so there would not be a conflict of interest, according to Putnam County Major Steve Rose.
Investigators are treating the individual’s death as suspicious. Rose would not disclose whether a gun was found at the scene. Police said they did not believe there was a threat to the public.
An autopsy was scheduled for Friday. Putnam County authorities said they’ll need to rely on dental records to identify the person after the medical examiner failed to make a positive identification.
Check back with CrimeOnline as additional information becomes available.
[Feature Photo: Michelle O’Connell/Facebook]