This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
The Taylor siblings spent many summer afternoons in Miami in the back seat of older sister Junel’s car, headed toward some new adventure together.
Some days Junel let them out at the mall so they could hop in line for a movie at the Cutler Ridge Theater. If her little brothers and sisters needed money for tickets, Junel always paid.
Those perfect days came to an abrupt, bitter end on July 22, 1987, when 31-year-old Junel Trotman was murdered in her home.
No charges have been filed in the more than three decades since her death, and the case remains unsolved.
Junel Wingo was born on June 10, 1965, in Miami, Florida. She was the oldest of six siblings who all lived under one roof. Naturally, she often stepped into the roles of peacemaker, nurturer, and mentor. Even when that happened, Junel knew how to have fun. She would pack her brothers and sisters up in the car and head to Miami’s Crandon Park or Virginia Key Beach.
“She was the only one who really took us,” said her brother, Taqua Taylor.
Junel worked as a telephone operator at BellSouth (now owned by AT&T), a profession all but lost to time. She loved her job, and her family believes she was living out her dream.
In her early 20s, Junel moved out of her family home and married her husband, Gregory Trotman, who worked as an airplane engineer.
Junel had one son, Vernon “Monty,” before marrying Gregory. The couple would have two daughters together, Ebonie and Tamara.
Junel’s siblings all agreed that she was the proudest of her children. Tahir Blue, her sister, smiled, thinking fondly of Junel’s close relationship with her oldest child, Monty.
“She and Monty were like peanut butter and jelly,” Tahir recalled. The two spent much of their time together.
Toward the end of her life, Junel became very sick with an illness that doctors could not explain. When she wasn’t in the hospital, she was cared for by her extended family as she had trouble walking. Her family suspected she was being poisoned for months by someone close to her, but they never imagined her life would be so cruelly taken the way it was.
It was a Wednesday afternoon when Junel’s mother learned that her daughter had been found stabbed to death in the foyer of her own home in South Miami Heights on July 22, 1987. Junel had recently turned 31. Her husband was supposed to drop her off at her family’s house that morning, but he never did.
Although police investigated the death, it was determined that there was not enough evidence to bring charges against any suspect.
“I don’t know anybody who didn’t like her. She was the glue,” Tahir said. She looked down, thinking perhaps about her brothers who both live in different cities today.
Junel’s children also separated after her death. Her daughters moved to Connecticut with their father Gregory, while her son stayed in Miami with his father and Junel’s family.
Tahir and her mother used to call the Miami-Dade Police Department often, desperate for new information on Junel’s case. They quickly became discouraged when they spoke to a different investigator on every call and never received answers.
Junel’s loss changed her family forever. The grief of not knowing for certain what happened to their sister still weighs heavily on them, and it won’t go away until they get answers. Still, even after all these years, their eyes still sparkle with love and pride when they say her name.
Tahir discovered Project: Cold Case in 2019, shortly after she realized that Junel’s name was not on a list of unsolved homicide victims on the Miami-Dade Police Department website. She received support from the organization, and her sister’s name is now listed with the other victims to be remembered forever.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Junel Trotman, please contact the Miami Police Department Homicide Unit at 305-603-6350. Remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000 by submitting tips to CrimeStoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).
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