Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Julio Silverwolf, transgender man who made national headlines, dies in crash after jail release

LARGO — A transgender man whose court case made national headlines two years ago died early Wednesday when he stepped into the path of a car on Roosevelt Boulevard.

Julio Silverwolf, born a woman and formerly known as Julia Roach, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 1:45 a.m. crash near St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

Silverwolf, 57, of Clearwater had been arrested Tuesday afternoon on a charge of driving under the influence after he was involved in an accident in a parking lot in Clearwater. He was taken to the Pinellas County Jail and released at 12:48 a.m. — roughly an hour before the deadly accident.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Silverwolf was standing on the north shoulder of Roosevelt, just west of 46th Street N, and then suddenly stepped into the path of a 2008 Chrysler driven by Susan K. West of Largo.

West was not injured and was not faulted in the crash. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The former Julia Roach was married to Larry Roach for 18 years before they divorced in 2004. She changed her name and underwent gender reassignment surgery sometime after the divorce.

In a March 2007 interview on Larry King Live, Larry Roach said the marriage was "normal" until the end. It was then that Julia began giving herself testosterone shots, lifting weights and shaving her face, Larry Roach said in an October 2007 magazine article.

When the couple divorced, Larry Roach agreed to pay his ex-wife $1,250 a month in alimony. But after she transitioned to a man, he petitioned the court to stop the payments.

"My fight was that my income deduction order was to pay my ex-wife, and this Julio person that was identified as a man, I don't know who that was," Roach said Wednesday. "You can't pay alimony from one man to another."

A circuit judge disagreed in 2007, saying "despite the surgery and the fact that the Respondent holds herself out to be a male, Florida recognizes the immutable female traits determined at birth."

Larry Roach initially filed an appeal but later dropped it because, he said, his attorney advised him he could not win the case and the legal fees were mounting.

Roach said he heard about the accident from a co-worker Wednesday morning and had "mixed emotions" about it.

"I really didn't know how to feel because I'd been married to that person for so long, then turned around, and I got the alimony for life, and I worked my whole life for my retirement and my pension and the court says 'No, you cant have it,' " he said, adding: "I'm saddened that she was so troubled."

Court records show that Silverwolf, still Roach at the time, had a previous DUI arrest in Pinellas County in 2004. She was found guilty and received a year of probation.

In 2006, Silverwolf was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault after he was accused of threatening a woman with an aluminum baseball bat. That charge was later dropped.

Silverwolf formerly bred show cats and miniature schnauzers, according to a 1996 St. Petersburg Times article.

Friend Ed Smith of Clearwater said he met Silverwolf after his now-deceased in-laws bought some dogs from Silverwolf.

Smith, 54, said he and his wife were devastated by the news of their friend's death.

"Had you met the guy, regardless of any of his issues going on, he was a genuinely nice person," Smith said. "He had a good heart."

Smith said his friend had been despondent lately over financial issues, was taking medication for depression and had previously mentioned suicide.

But Smith said he wondered whether Silverwolf was still impaired when he left the jail and whether that may have contributed to his death. Silverwolf listed Smith and his wife as next of kin, and a trooper came to their door Wednesday morning with the news of his death. The trooper also gave the Smiths the possessions Silverwolf had on him at the time of his death: a wallet, an earring, a key, a watch and 39 cents, Smith said.

"Basically, he was let go and turned loose out the door with his possessions and 39 cents to make his way home on," Smith said. "I know we don't call prisoners a limo and escort them home. I'm realistic, … but he should have never been let out of jail on ROR (release on own recognizance)."

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said Florida law requires that anyone arrested for DUI is held for at least eight hours. Silverwolf was released eight and a half hours after his arrest.

Jail staff has the power to retain a person longer if he or she continues to show signs of impairment, Pasha said.

"That was not an issue here," Pasha said.

Smith said it was difficult to accept that he may never know what happened in the last hours of his good friend's life.

"Julio was probably being ravaged in his mind and maybe he's at peace now," Smith said. "Regardless how he died, how it happened — on accident, on purpose — none of us will ever know. It's horrible."

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Julio Silverwolf, transgender man who made national headlines, dies in crash after jail release 05/13/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.