Rona Louise Monoson was 19 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found in a pond near her dormitory in Tampa, Florida, more than 45 years ago, and the person responsible for her death has yet to be brought to justice.
Monoson was a freshman at the University of South Florida, and she lived in a private dormitory in Fontana Hall on Fletcher Avenue, located across the street from the USF campus.
On the morning of Oct. 2, 1972, Monoson, who was originally from Long Island, New York, left her dorm to go shopping at Cook’s department store on 50th Street.
When she failed to return to her dorm that night, her roommate contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and reported her missing, as the Tampa Bay Times reported in 1972.
Three days later, on the afternoon of Oct. 5, 1972, Monoson was found dead, floating in a pond about two miles north of USF.
It was reported that when a man was walking his dogs near Skipper Road and 30th Street, the animals picked up a scent and led him to her decomposed body.
She was nude from the waist down.
The body could not be immediately identified because the features were obliterated by the “immersion of the water,” according to a publication in 1972.
With dental x-rays from her dentist in New York and fingerprints, they were later able to make a positive identification.
The fingerprints experts used to help identify her were from her vehicle, a gray 1960 Chevrolet Impala, which was found parked at the Gates Apartments across from the pond.
An autopsy later revealed that Monoson died from a blow to the head.
Sheriff’s Maj. John Salla told The Tampa Tribune in 1972 that “it appears a sex crime was involved, and she resisted.”
However, a medical examiner could not confirm if she had been sexually assaulted.
Through a police investigation, it was uncovered that the USF student may have picked up a hitchhiker moments after leaving her dorm, as students on campus claimed she was “friendly and had a habit of picking up hitchhikers in the area.”
Due to the condition of the body, authorities believe she was killed immediately after she picked up the hitchhiker.
They also stated that her body had been floating at the edge of the pond for one to three days before she was found.
Several months after Monoson was found dead, her parents, who had moved to Cape Coral, Florida, offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Throughout the years, investigators have questioned more than 200 witnesses, but none of the information they provided led to a suspect in the case.
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Rona Louise Monoson is encouraged to contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Section at (813) 247-8660.
Callers can refer to the following case number: 1972-044096.