Victim ID’d in homicide case, 20 years after remains found in Orange County

A homicide investigation that began in 2003 recently had a breakthrough after Orange County Sheriff’s Office detectives were able to confirm the identity of a female victim.

On December 29, 2003, landscape workers discovered human remains on Taylor Creek Road, north of State Road 520, in Christmas, which is in unincorporated Orange County, according to OCSO.

OCSO deputy at scene of homicide on Taylor Creek Road in Christmas photo by Orange County Sheriff s Office 2
The human remains were found on Taylor Creek Road in Christmas, Florida on December 29, 2003. (Photo: Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

Detectives arrived on scene and interviewed several individuals who were in the area, though no one knew who the victim might be.   

An investigation was launched, and the sheriff’s office determined that the victim had been deceased for approximately four to six weeks. Detectives believe that the victim was killed in another location and then brought to the area of Taylor Creek Road, where the skeletal remains were found.

Over the next two decades, the case went cold as detectives were unable to identify the victim.

In 2022, the sheriff’s office received a grant from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the skeletal remains were sent to Othram Labs for forensic genetic genealogy testing.

A genetic profile of the victim was developed, and a DNA match was discovered in 2023. This information was then forwarded from the lab to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Thanks to recent advancements in genetic genealogy and a collaboration with Othram Labs, OCSO announced on Thursday, June 20, 2024, that the victim in this case has been identified as 26-year-old Holly Rose Leavines Garcia.

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Holly Rose Leavines Garcia (Photo: Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

Garcia was a wife and mother who lived on the east side of Orlando. In 2002, detectives believe that she resided at Palm Bay Apartments located off S Semoran Boulevard, and she also resided at Hollowbrook Apartments located off Curry Ford Road in 2003.

Holly Rose Leavines Garcia with her husband and child photo by Orange County Sheriff s Office human remains ID d over 20 years after being found in Christmas, FL
Holly Rose Leavines Garcia was a wife and mother. (Photo: Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

The sheriff’s office states that at the time of Garcia’s death, she was married to Miguel Angel Garcia-Rivera. Detectives would like to speak with him regarding the homicide investigation, though they have been unable to locate him.

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Miguel Angel Garcia-Rivera (Photo: Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

If you knew Holly Rose Leavines Garcia, or if you have any information about her life or the circumstances surrounding her death, please contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit at 407-836-4357 or the Central Florida Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS(8477).

Earlier this month, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Cold Case Unit had another breakthrough when detectives were able to positively identify a homicide victim who had been killed near Apopka in 1993.

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