TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The FBI has identified the woman whose body was found floating off of Egmont Key Saturday.
In a Friday news release, the FBI said the victim was Heather Rose Strickland, 34, a resident of the Clearwater-St. Petersburg area.
Officials said fishermen found Strickland’s body floating 13 miles off the coast of Pinellas County just before noon Saturday. Her body was found wrapped in bedding and a plastic trash bag, according to the FBI.
Investigators said Strickland was last on Dec. 5 seen leaving HCA Florida Largo Hospital at 201 14th Street Southwest. The FBI said the 34-year-old has lived in the Tampa Bay area for five years.
At this time, authorities are awaiting a toxicology report to determine Strickland’s cause of death. Investigators have classified the situation as a “suspicious death,” as of this report.
WFLA.com spoke with Heather Strickland’s parents, John and Sherrie Strickland, who said they learned of their daughter’s passing on Tuesday.
Her parents said they were trying to get Heather to move back to north Florida to seek treatment for mental illness and drug addiction, but she never made it home. John said she was going through “a tough time.”
“We love her very much. She was a kind person,” John Strickland said. “She had some problems with mental illness, but she was a kind person, and no person deserves that.”
Heather’s parents thanked the fishermen who found her several miles from shore. They think someone was looking out for her that day.
“She never would have been found,” John Strickland said. “It was God’s making sure justice comes.”
The parents said they won’t give up in seeking justice for their daughter, who is a mother herself. They said the FBI has an entire team working on the case, trying to piece together what happened in the days leading up to her death.
“They’re putting up poster boards. They went to the media. They’re doing all that they can,” John Strickland said. “And they’re already getting clues as we speak on her last known whereabouts and her life circle.”
If you know anything related to Strickland’s death, call FBI Tampa Field Office at 813-253-1000 or send a tip to tips.fbi.gov.