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Deputies identify dead woman

By BILL VARIAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2000


CRYSTAL RIVER -- Citrus County sheriff's deputies released the identity of the Ocala woman found dead at the Cross Florida Barge Canal on Saturday after making contact with her mother late Monday.

The woman was identified as Renee Rosita Harris, 24, whose most recent known address was 620 SE First Ave., Ocala.

Detectives found out who she was when her fingerprints matched those from her arrest this month in Ocala on charges of maintaining a house of prostitution.

The Sheriff's Office was unable to provide any additional personal information about Harris.

Detectives are unsure what ties she may have had to Citrus County, according to a news release.

"I would think it would be safe to say we're looking at everything in this case right now," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Gail Tierney. "I believe we have detectives heading to this address right now. I don't know what they will find."

Harris was arrested May 11 on charges of setting up or maintaining a place for prostitution, Tierney said. Tierney did not have information about whether the case had been adjudicated and the Ocala Police Department was unable to provide information about the arrest late Monday.

Investigators still are not releasing information relating to how Harris died, though they have received an autopsy report from the state medical examiner's office in Leesburg. They are hoping to use information from the autopsy to assist the investigation.

Harris was found about 6:40 a.m. by fishermen on the south bank of the barge canal, a couple of hundred yards west of where U.S. 19 passes over it. She was not clothed.

The autopsy revealed that she had been dead less than 12 hours.

The area where Harris was found is just west of a public boat ramp and is a popular destination for people who fish from shore.

Detectives are soliciting phone calls from anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area late Friday or early Saturday. Anyone with information may call 911 if dialing from Citrus County or (352) 746-2555. Leave a message for Detectives Ken Perez or Dave Fields.

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