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Putnam County Sheriff’s Office examine William Monroe cold case
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Putnam County Sheriff’s Office examine William Monroe cold case

  • PublishedMay 18, 2024

A man found in Putnam County in 1980, known as John Doe 36, finally has a name: William Irving Monroe III. But there is more to his story.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Florida — Early last year, Capt. Chris Stallings with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office was looking at a list of unsolved homicides.

“This one kind of stood out because this was the only one on the list that had “unknown” next to it,” he said.

It was John Doe 36. A man believed to be a migrant farm worker, found shot and partially buried in Pomona Park in 1980. Stallings says he wanted to at least put a name to that cold case, so he began pulling evidence and saw they still had hair and skin samples. 

“It is a stretch, but it is doable now with today’s technology that hasn’t been tested yet,” he explained. 

It took months, but Othram Labs was able to use genetic genealogy to track down some potential family members, like Richard Jay Monroe, who confirmed he had not see or spoken to his brother since the late 1970s. Richard offered up his DNA and it was a match.

John Doe 36 was Richard’s brother, William Irving Monroe III.

Shocking news for William’s son, Michael Monroe.

“I am still trying to process stuff, and you know,  I was only eight,” Michael said. “He was everything to me at that time.”

William Monroe was a father of two, a U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam, but his brother says the war changed him.

“He was a normal person, until he came back from Vietnam,” said Richard.

He says William struggled with PTSD, but he loved his sons.

“We just did everything and I went everywhere with him and when he was gone it took a lot from me and I have wondered about it my whole life,” said Michael,” Just to know he was found and I wasn’t abandoned as a kid, you know?”

Capt. Stallings says according to reports on Nov. 15 of 1980, a driver confirmed he picked up four men from a store in Orlando to work at a farm camp in Pomona Park. One of the men fit Monroe’s description. After three days, William Monroe reportedly left the camp and was never seen again. Then in December, his body was found rolled up in a rug and partially buried in the woods. He had been shot in the neck. 

Capt. Stallings says he believes William took the farm job to try and get back to Pomona Park to be near his children in Putnam County.

“I don’t’ think your dad every abandoned you for the one year it had been, I think he died trying to get back up to him,” said Stallings.

As for who shot him, that’s still unknown.

“I hope someone would come forward and say, ‘Yeah, I knew him and I understand this is what happened and the person that killed him may also be deceased,” said Richard Monroe.

But now that William Monroe has been identified, a deeper investigation into his murder can begin.

If you know anything about the death of William Irving Monroe, call Capt. Stallings with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 386-329-0800.

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