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SPECIAL REPORT: Daytona Serial Killings

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Serial killer´s victim ‘a free spirit’

By SETH ROBBINS
Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH — Rhonda Iwanski flipped through photos of her slain sister, Julie Green. In one, a 6-year-old Julie tilted her head toward the sky, squeezed her eyes shut and forced a smile across her face.

“Sometimes she stuck out her tongue,” Rhonda said.

Julie was locked in time for her older sister, before a drug addiction stole Julie´s petite figure, auburn hair and porcelain skin, leaving her looking gaunt and sallow.

On Jan. 14, Julie Green´s body was found in a ditch at a construction site off LPGA Boulevard. She was 34 and had lived in the Daytona Beach area for most of her life. Police say the same man killed two other women -- Laquetta Gunther and Iwana Patton.

Julie´s family and friends wonder how this free-spirited woman who loved to sing and make people laugh could meet such a violent end.

“I wish that things were a lot different for her,” Rhonda said by phone from her home in New Jersey. “I wish that her life never got so turned around. I wish it for any of these girls that are out there.”

Julie, the baby of the family, had two older sisters, Terrie and Rhonda. After their father died, their mother, Patricia Ann, married Doug Green and moved to Daytona Beach with Julie, about 5 years old, and Terrie.

Rhonda was 19 at the time and stayed home in Jacksonville. Their mother died when Julie was about 8, and Doug Green adopted her. Rhonda moved to Daytona Beach and looked after her sisters until Julie was about 12. She took her to the Gator Farm, Disney World, and a zoo where Julie loved to imitate the monkeys -- she wanted to be a veterinarian.

“That was when I did a lot of stuff with the girls,” she said, “trying to keep busy and heal the hurt for all of us.”

Rhonda remembered her baby sister begging for money to play the “Elvira” song at a breakfast-style restaurant. After dropping quarters into the jukebox, she hauled herself onto the table and sang and danced to the tune until the waiter brought their breakfast.

“I can still hear her as plain as day,” she said. “She always had to be the center of attention. She was very cute.”

But Rhonda soon got married and moved back to Jacksonville, and her visits with her sister became less frequent, though they still kept in touch.

Aletha Arnold befriended Julie at Port Orange Elementary School where they sat next to each other in the second grade.

“She was a very cheeky kid,” she said. “She had two little apples for cheeks.”

School, however, was difficult for Julie, her former friend said from her home in Tennessee. Julie was held back twice, despite being a bright and creative girl. She was never prepared for class, the teacher picked on her, and at age 12 she began to run away from home.

“We had a very different home life,” Aletha said. “I couldn´t imagine being out there alone like that.”

After years of not seeing Julie -- she had already dropped out of school, was taking bus trips and staying with friends -- Aletha´s mother was in a car accident and Green visited her in the hospital. It was the last time Aletha would see her.

“Even at 19, she was upbeat and optimistic about her life,” she said. “I don´t know when she lost that.

“Just like any child, she wanted to be loved. I wonder if she turned to prostitution trying to find love.”

Aletha described the relationship between Julie and her adoptive father as strained. Standing in the cluttered front yard of his home in Port Orange, Douglas Green, tears pooling in the corners of his eyes, refused to comment on his daughter´s death. But, Rhonda said he was the one person whom her sister turned to when she was in trouble.

“We all have issues with our parents,” Rhonda said. “Doug has always done the right thing by Julie and she loved him.”

She doesn´t know what caused Julie´s life to tumble into turmoil.

“Julie was more like a free spirit,” she said. “Ever since she was little, she was going to do things the way she wanted to do it.”

Like her sister, friend Rman Brewer´s first memory of Julie is watching her sing, a ´60s-style bandanna dress hugging her body as she pushed her way on stage and sang with his band.

“She was the prettiest girl I ever saw,” he said, “and I couldn´t believe she sang so well.”

She worked as a gardener, setting up rose beds, and as a dog groomer, Rman said. But, her crack addiction consumed her.

“She got into that crack thing, and man it took her,” he said. “The crack eventually led to prostitution.”

When she was low, she came to his house, and he fed her and let her take a hot shower. Soon she would be gone again. Both he and her father tried to get her into rehab, Rman said, but she just couldn´t quit.

He last saw her walking out of a gas station on Ridgewood Avenue; she had sores on her legs and looked badly beaten up. He told her to call him; she never did. Two weeks later she was found murdered. Police said she got into a car with the wrong person.

When a detective called Rhonda and said Julie was murdered, her only thought was she hoped Julie knew how much she was loved.

“I just would like to be able to put my arms around her one more time,” she said, “and see that cute little girl.”

Special Report: DAYTONA SERIAL KILLINGS

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