FL JULIE DOE: Transgender female, 22-35, found in woods off Hwy 474 in Clermont, FL - 25 Sept 1988


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Julie Doe was a transgender woman found deceased in 1988. The cause of her death is undetermined, although the apparent concealment of her body suggests foul play. She is currently undergoing testing by the DNA Doe Project. The first and second rounds of sequencing proved unsuccessful, however a third round was successful.

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Julie Doe's body was discovered in an unrecognizable state months after her death. She was partially disrobed, which led to the possibility she was sexually assaulted. The victim was thought to be a cisgender woman until DNA testing revealed a Y chromosome, indicating she was assigned to be male at birth.

Isotope testing indicated she was native to South Florida.

  • She had natural brown hair that was bleached.
  • She had a healed injury to the right cheekbone
  • She had upper body reassignment surgery (most likely taking place in Miami or Atlanta, Georgia).
  • Plastic surgery was possibly done on her nose, as a result of the injury to her face or through her transition process.
  • She had 250cc silicone breast implants, which likely were put into place around 1984.
  • She wore a blue-green tank top.
  • She was wearing an acid washed denim skirt.
  • She wore pantyhose.


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The news broke in 2015.

Body found 27 years ago was transgender woman, authorities say

Nearly 30 years have passed since deputies released a flier about a woman's decomposing body found in rural Lake County, hoping details including that she had probably given birth to several kids would help solve the mystery of her identity.

The woman wore a greenish tank top with a long acid-washed skirt and pantyhose that were partially rolled down. She had long manicured nails, long dyed blonde hair and breast implants. A lab determined she likely gave birth to one or more children before the body was found Sept. 25, 1988, along County Road 474 in Four Corners.

Just one problem: The person they found was actually a transgender woman.

Detectives recently learned the case, considered a suspicious death, had been turned upside down after the remains were tested again as part of a statewide initiative to revisit unsolved cases hoping new technology could help identify victims. Tests found the body had the DNA of a male.

"I couldn't believe it," Lake County sheriff's Detective Tamara Dale said. "For 27 years we thought it was a woman. This could really help us identify this person because gender-reassignment surgeries weren't as common back then."

Dale and her partner Sgt. James Dilimone have renewed their interest in the case, which is among 107 cold cases in the county, after finding out the twist.

The sheriff's report of the body's discovery details a passerby driving near the Green Swamp, four miles east of State Road 33 and four miles west of U.S. Highway 27, when he pulled off the side of the road.

The man, who lived in the Clermont area, was searching for wood to use for lawn furniture and spotted the perfect cypress tree. He pulled his truck over about 11 a.m. and smelled something foul as he entered the woods. He found a body hiding in 5-foot-high weeds.

Deputies were called to the area and noticed it appeared the decomposed body had been dragged into the woods two to four weeks earlier and left face up. No shoes, jewelry, handbag or wallet were found. But the person had undergone several cosmetic surgeries including breast implants and a nose job.

The nearest neighbor — about a mile away — in the rural area filled with citrus trees told authorities he didn't hear or see anything suspicious. Investigators talked with people at nearby businesses and two bars in the area but hit a dead end. Residents offered a number of leads regarding women who matched the description but each were tracked down and found safe.

"We were getting leads based on the description we released and we followed all of them, but it shouldn't come to a surprise we didn't crack the case," Dale said. "We were looking for the wrong person."

Dilimone said they have no idea if the person was murdered or had been ditched after possibly overdosing on drugs. But, he said, the woman most likely didn't die at the location where they found her and it is suspicious the body looked to have been dragged and hidden in the woods.

"It's definitely a mystery and very suspicious," he said. "By the time we uncovered the body it was already partially decomposed, so testing for drugs couldn't be done. Our best bet now is to find out who this person is. That's the first step in solving this case."

Dilimone said they speculated the woman could have been a prostitute because transition surgeries in the 1980s were even more expensive than they are nowadays.

The body was sent to the C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory in Gainesville, part of the University of Florida's Department of Anthropology, and analyzed by world-renowned forensic anthropologist William Maples. Maples said she was originally a brunette between 24 and 32 years old and tall — about 5 feet, 9 inches — with a robust, athletic build. The deterioration of the body didn't show any trauma. A cause of death was never found.

Maples, who died in 1997, had worked on more than 1,000 cases for law enforcement, helping to identify victims and solve how they died. He worked on a number of high-profile cases. In 1991, he participated in the examination of President Zachary Taylor's body and helped debunk a theory that he was poisoned during a struggle over slavery prior to the Civil War. He also helped identify the remains of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in Peru in 1984 and analyzed the remains of Joseph Merrick — known as "The Elephant Man" — in 1990.

Michael Warren, who now heads the lab and made the discovery in the Lake County case, said his mentor could have made the mistake for a number of reasons.

Pits on the pelvis were found, which was thought to indicate a person had given birth. The divots are caused by a hormone that softens bones for childbirth. The theory was later discredited after women who had not given birth were found with them. It was also found that men could secrete the hormone as well.

"At the time literature was starting to come out indicating those markings aren't a good indicator of childbirth or that a person is a female…," Warren said. "He was a victim of the science at the time."

Warren said it's rare to see this happen in men, but this person was taking high amounts of estrogen. That could have helped create the effect and reduce the amount of testosterone in the body. The extra intake of estrogen is common during a gender transition, Warren said.

"All the reports called the person a female. If you're getting all that information it can influence you," Warren said. "Plus, the person was wearing women's attire and had breast implants…The transgender community was much smaller back then so it wasn't something you'd expect."


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DNA testing was just starting in the late 1980s, with the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) just beginning in some parts of the country. The system saves DNA from convicted offenders and often helps law enforcement agencies with DNA matches.

At the time, Warren said, DNA testing was expensive and something that was often out of reach of law enforcement agencies that had to cover the cost. Along with the hefty price, often the tests didn't help solve crimes because CODIS was just beginning and there weren't many offenders in the system.

"I'm not shocked they didn't try to test for DNA back then," he said. "It was gaining momentum at that time but it wasn't anything compared to what we have now. It keeps getting more and more efficient and fast."

Warren also found several additional differences from Maples' original report. Warren said the body was actually taller than originally noted, 5-foot-11, and could have been a year older, up to 33.

The remains had been kept at the lab since 1988 in an evidence room filled with other unidentified people.

All these years later, Warren and lab workers decided to pull out the remains and see if new technology could help give clues about the identity. Warren had a gut reaction based on what he observed.

"The moment we pulled out the skeleton and looked at it I said 'Whoa, this is a guy,'" he said. "We did all the measurements and ran statistics on the bones and everything was screaming this was a biological male. When we got back the DNA that confirmed it we were stunned."

Both he and Lake deputies have theories that the person could have been a transient or estranged from family members before the transition from a man to a woman.

"Sadly, even nowadays the transgender community feels rejected by a lot of folks in our culture," Warren said. "It's sometimes hard for them to find employment and get money for treatment, which can be very expensive."

He said not many medical offices offered these treatments and procedures in the 1980s, and the closest areas that may have offered them would have been in Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans.

The transgender possibility never occurred to investigators.

"Wow. That's definitely a shock," said Lake County sheriff's investigator Ray Morrison, who headed the case before retiring in 2002 and moving to Alabama. "But thinking about it now, I remember she was kind of tall for a female."

Morrison said he remembered working on the case and how quickly it turned cold. "We followed all the leads we could for a good week or so, but after that there was nothing to go on," he said.

Now, Dale and Dilimone hope the new information will provide new leads to make an identification.

"We're hoping it rings a bell for someone, whether it is the doctor who did the surgeries or a friend," Dale said. "We just want this person's family to have closure."

If you have any information about this case, call the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 352-343-2101 or Crimeline 1-800-423-8477


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The sheriff's report of the body's discovery details a passerby driving near the Green Swamp, four miles east of State Road 33 and four miles west of U.S. Highway 27, when he pulled off the side of the road.

The man, who lived in the Clermont area, was searching for wood to use for lawn furniture and spotted the perfect cypress tree. He pulled his truck over about 11 a.m. and smelled something foul as he entered the woods. He found a body hiding in 5-foot-high weeds.



Crime scene photos


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The DNA Doe Project is happy to announce an update to the Julie Doe — Transgender female case. Although Julie Doe’s first and second rounds of bone extractions were unsuccessful at obtaining sufficient DNA, another sample is being sent for a third round of extraction.

Who was Julie Doe?
On September 25, 1988 a passerby looking for cypress wood to build lawn furniture discovered the body of Julie Doe in a wooded area in the vicinity of Hwy 474, four miles east of Hwy 33 west of Orlando, FL. It appeared that the body had been dragged from the roadside to the location it was found. The victim’s pantyhose and skirt had been rolled down, indicating a possible sexual assault. Julie was white, age 22-35, about 5’10, 170 pounds, with naturally brown hair. She had on a blue-green tank top, Manisha long acid washed denim skirt, and panty hose.

The autopsy conducted in 1988 revealed she had a previously fractured cheekbone and a broken nose. She also had a healed rib fracture. The autopsy incorrectly concluded that she was a cisgender woman who had given birth to at least one child. However, when the remains were tested again, DNA revealed that the decedent had an XY genotype and was a transgender woman who had gender reassignment surgery, which was uncommon for the era. She had breast implants that dated from no later than 1984 and the surgery was most likely performed in either Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, New York City, or California. She also had a rhinoplasty and had likely been on hormone therapy for several years before her death.

Agency of Jurisdiction
Lake County Sheriff’s Office
Tamara Dale, Sergeant


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Photos above illustrate how Julie Doe may have looked like prior to her transition. These images are important as Julie Doe's family may remember her from when she was a child before she transitioned to female.


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Julie Doe Transgender 1988 was added to Gedmatch by the DNA Doe Project. As of February 22, 2021, she had over 4,500 DNA matches. Her highest match was 89.7 cM - this is not a substantial match. She is on the Google Drive spreadsheet at:

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