September death in Old Seminole Heights now ruled a homicide

A month after Linda Harris' death, Tampa Police are now asking for tips and information.

A photo of Tampa Police vehicles taken in Tampa, Florida on July 31, 2020. - Dave Decker
Dave Decker
A photo of Tampa Police vehicles taken in Tampa, Florida on July 31, 2020.

Tampa Police Department (TPD) says that a woman whose body was found in an abandoned house in Tampa’s Old Seminole Heights last month was the victim of a homicide.

“Linda Harris was found deceased in an abandoned home that was set for demolition,” TPD wrote in the press release. “Construction workers were conducting a walk-through of the home when they discovered Harris. She suffered from upper body trauma and her death was determined to be a homicide.”

TPD said that detectives are seeking any information about Linda's activities in the days leading up to her being found. Detectives are asking the public for help. Anyone with information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers of Tampa Bay at 1.800.873.TIPS. The family agreed to release a picture of Harris, which is at the end of this story.

click to enlarge A month after Linda Harris' death, Tampa Police are now asking for tips and information. - Tampa Police Department
Tampa Police Department
A month after Linda Harris' death, Tampa Police are now asking for tips and information.

Last month, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay received notice about the body being found in the house.

On Sept. 28, Tampa police got a call about an unidentified woman’s body discovered in an abandoned building on the 1800 block of E Sligh Avenue in Old Seminole Heights.

At the time TPD had not been able to identify the exact age of the woman, but said that she was “partially clothed” and experienced upper body trauma.

Near 8 a.m. that morning, a foreman with JVS Contracting arrived at the abandoned building that was in the process of being demolished, Matthew Boggs, Supervisor of Safety and Compliance at JVS, told CL. As is standard procedure, the foreman and a construction worker did a walkthrough of the house to make sure no one was inside.

The front entrance was impossible to open, so the foreman and a worker went around the backdoor. They crossed through the house’s kitchen and toward a bedroom, when the foreman suddenly saw a face. He made noises to try to wake the woman up, thinking she was maybe sleeping there. 

When the foreman realized that the woman wasn’t just sleeping, he and the worker ran out of the house immediately and called Boggs, who then called the police. Police and fire rescue headed to the scene, and so did Boggs. When he got there, the fire rescue team left and the house was turned into a crime scene by the police. 

People in the neighborhood were approached by TPD officers and later, TPD Detective Rachel Cholnik. At the time, the neighbors, who wish to remain anonymous, told CL that TPD officers said they believed the situation was a homicide. At the time, TPD said they believed it happened during the night or early morning, and asked the neighbors if they had heard or seen anything, which they hadn’t. Police told the neighbors that it didn’t look like the woman had been moved into the house after she died, because it was difficult to get into the house and there wasn’t evidence of the body being moved. 

The house was later demolished after TPD said they retrieved all the evidence they needed from it.

Early this month, TPD told WFTS that it’s tracked 37 homicides since January.

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About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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