Julie Ann Backstrom was 29 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found in a drainage ditch in Brevard County, Florida, more than 30 years ago, and the person responsible for her death has yet to be brought to justice.
Backstrom worked as a certified nurse’s aide for various health care agencies. She was originally from Minnesota, but nearly three years before her death, she moved into a duplex in Cocoa, Florida, with her then-8-year-old daughter, Chelsie.
Relatives of the victim told the Orlando Sentinel that they last saw her on the night of Feb. 9, 1987. She told them that she was heading to Merritt Island the following day to care for a woman who was physically disabled.
There is no known information that states whether or not Backstrom actually went to Merritt Island, but Florida Today reported that on the evening of Feb. 10, 1987, Backstrom attended a party in the West Melbourne area.
When the party ended, she got in her vehicle, a blue 1982 Plymouth Champ, and began driving to her home in the 600 block of Leo Drive. Backstrom may have never arrived at her location, as she was found dead the next day.
A couple traveling east on SR 528 discovered her partially submerged body in a drainage ditch around 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 11, 1987. She was laying face down, about “1,000 yards east of Interstate 95,” officials said.
An autopsy determined that Backstrom’s death resulted from a gunshot wound to the head. Detectives stated that evidence suggested she was murdered elsewhere, and then her body was dragged to the ditch.
On the morning of Feb. 13, 1987, officers with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a repair shop called Precision Auto Care on Main Street in Mims after receiving a 911 call about a suspicious vehicle.
An employee stated that the vehicle had been parked on their property, but it didn’t belong to any of their customers. Police officers arrived on the scene and discovered that the vehicle belonged to Backstrom.
When officers searched the vehicle, they discovered blood inside. Further information pertaining to the blood or who it belonged to could not be found.
Joan Heller, the sheriff’s spokesperson, said, “Certainly getting the car helps. It provides evidence. It may not solve it (slaying), but it can help.”
Investigators have worked diligently to find Backstrom’s killer, but ultimately, her case turned cold.
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Julie Ann Backstrom is encouraged to contact the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office at (321) 633-8413 or Crimeline at (800) 4233-TIPS.
A reward of up to $5,000 may be offered for more information.