A murder investigation is underway after the suspicious death of a person investigating the case of Michelle O'Connell has been ruled a homicide, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.
Ellie Marie Washtock, 38, of St. Augustine, died on Jan. 31 from a gunshot wound to the head at a Laterra Condominiums residence in World Golf Village, deputies said. The death was ruled a homicide on Friday by the medical examiner, the sheriff's office said.
Washtock, who at different times had identified as both male and female, was found by his 15-year-old son, deputies said.
Deputies said Washtock was a private citizen investigating the controversial St. Johns County shooting death of Michelle O'Connell in 2010.
“I think it’s somebody involved with Michelle’s case that was involved with killing Ellie,” Michelle’s mother Patti told First Coast News on Monday.
Michelle O'Connell had been in the process of breaking up with her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, a St. Johns County sheriff's deputy, when she was found dead at their home, of a gunshot from his service weapon. The death was ruled a suicide, but her family contends that she was murdered.
“I started thinking that [the Washtock death investigation] was going to go the way Michelle’s case went,” Patti O’Connell said. “You know, ‘they’re going to cover it up,’ but I believe maybe they’re going to do a thorough job. I pray to God that they do a thorough job. Somebody that’s out there, that killed Ellie, is loose.”
Because of Washtock's involvement in the O'Connell case, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office turned the investigation over to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.
No arrests have been made and the investigating sheriff's office is asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888-277-8477.