• Deputies confirm transgender woman found dead behind Orange County apartment building

    By: Kevin Williams , Ty Russell , Jason Kelly

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A transgender woman was found dead behind an apartment building near Orange Blossom Trail, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.

    Deputies said the body of Steve Garden, 27, who was known to her family and friends as Sasha, was found outside the Reserve at Lake Buchanan apartment complex on Holden Avenue.

    Passersby saw Garden's body in a rear parking lot around 5 a.m. Thursday and called 911, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jane Watrel said.

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    People who saw the body told Channel 9 that Garden was naked.

    The Orange County Sheriff's Office originally said Thursday morning that the victim was a man dressed as a woman and was wearing a wig. Deputies said they found trauma on Garden's body.

    "When I walked in this morning, I was, like, here we go again," said the complex's maintenance manager, who asked to not be identified. "Nobody wants to see that. Nobody wants to see a dead body."

    Investigators said they don't believe Garden lived at the apartment complex.

    Deputies have not said where Garden is from or how she died.

    Mulan Montrese Williams, who was Garden's friend, told Channel 9 Thursday that the two first met two years ago.

    "I let her know about a trans empowerment group that I was having. That was our ... first real interaction," she said. "She was a firecracker. She was very outspoken. She didn't hold anything back."

    Williams said Garden was working as a prostitute in the area near where she was killed. Records show Garden was arrested for prostitution in 2016.

    Williams said Garden dreamed of becoming a hairdresser.

    "She used to do hair," she said. "She used to always talk about that. She let me know this wasn't her life -- working the streets."

    Williams said she hopes Garden's killer is arrested soon, but deputies said there are no suspects yet in the case.

    "It's very scary, especially when I'm living in the same neighborhood that it happened," she said. "Sasha was a good person. Sasha's life was ended too early."

    Williams said Garden's friends are considering holding a vigil for her in the coming days.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Crimeline at 800-423-8477.

    The homicide is the latest in a growing list of death investigations in Orange County in just a few days:

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