The family of a woman found dead in Lee County decades ago is remembering their mother, sister and friend, as the investigation of her death remains open.
Loved ones still want answers in the cold case homicide of 25-year-old Coleen Egland, who investigators believe was killed 31 years ago.
On Dec. 17, 1989, a day before Coleen’s birthday, Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a body in the woods near a rest area at Daniels off I-75. Investigators learned it was Coleen’s body. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Just over 30 years later, Coleen’s family gathered Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 to celebrate her birthday, as they continue to seek justice for her killing.
“It’s not easy telling a child that their mother was murdered, so up until I was like 18, I didn’t know. They just said that she got sick and died,” said Erica Platon, Coleen’s daughter.
Platon’s family thought they were doing the right thing by not telling her someone killed her mom. That someone continues to not be held responsible for her mother’s death.
“I’d spend time with my dad, and he finally broke down and gave me the newspaper clipping and kind of explained to me that, you know, she had been murdered,” Erica said.
Erica’s aunts, Coleen Egland’s sisters, told us all Coleen wanted was to be a mother.
“She had a heck of a time getting pregnant with Erica, but when she did, she was just so excited,” Carrie Egland, Coleen’s older sister.
“The first time I’d seen Erica was at her graduation since she was 3 years old,” said Cheryl Egland, Coleen’s younger sister. “I couldn’t talk to her on the phone, just because it broke my heart.”
With all the time lost, Coleen’s daughter says she still feels she and he mother have a lot in common.
“I feel like we’re a lot alike in a lot of ways somehow,” Erica said. “I know her hair was always crazy, so my hair is always crazy, so I know we had that similarity. But I really think that a lot of her is in me.”
To honor Coleen, her family went to the place she was found 31 years ago, a day before she would have been 26 years old.
“That’s more important than Christmas to me to celebrate her birthday because Christmas hasn’t been the same since,” Cheryl said.
Coleen Egland’s family hopes anyone watching who might know or remember anything will call SWFL Crime Stoppers and share any tip they might have with them. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and there is up to a $3,000 award for information that helps investigators.
For Egland’s family, finding her killer would be priceless.
“She deserved to be here, to watch me grow up and live my life and be a part of my family when that comes one day,” Platon said. “I just feel like it’s unfair that it’s been 31 years, and my family still doesn’t have any answers or any closure.”