Person investigating woman's 2010 death found dead inside Florida home

By Alex Sundby

/ CBS News

A person who was looking into a woman's 2010 death was found dead inside their home in Florida, police said. The person who was found dead Thursday in St. Augustine, Florida, was conducting an independent investigation into the controversial death of a 24-year-old woman, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office said.

Michelle O'Connell's 2010 death was ruled a suicide, but her family believed she was killed by her boyfriend, a deputy with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. The sheriff's office initially investigated O'Connell's death, and an independent investigation ordered by then-Gov. Rick Scott found in 2015 that the evidence didn't support the claim that her death was a homicide.

Michelle O'Connell CBS affiliate WTEV

On Thursday, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office was initially called to the St. Augustine home. The agency later asked the sheriff's office in neighboring Putnam County to take over the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest, Putnam County sheriff's Maj. Steve Rose told reporters.

It was too early to determine if Thursday's death was a homicide or a suicide, Rose said. He said it was being investigated as a suspicious death.

The victim had an apparent gunshot wound, and an autopsy was expected to be conducted Friday, Rose said. He wouldn't say whether a weapon was recovered from the scene.

No suspect has been identified in the death, but police were confident that there was no threat to the community, Rose said. He told reporters that investigators haven't been able to positively identify the victim.

The victim identified as a male and a female, Rose said. "The information that we have from people that we have talked to is the person does identify as both a male and a female going by a male name and then also a female name as well," Rose said.

Rose said he didn't know why the victim was looking into the O'Connell case or what the person may have found. "They did request to view some public records," Rose said. "What all the individual was allowed to view I do not know."

First published on February 1, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Alex Sundby

Alex Sundby is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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