PASCO COUNTY, Fla. – In 1981, Elana Goldstein was a bright, beautiful 14-year-old girl from Wesley Chapel, Florida. Sweet, beautiful, and kind, Elana made a tremendous impact on everyone she knew. She was quiet and sometimes shy, without an enemy in the world. With what could have been a bright, promising future ahead, her life would be heinously stolen from her in the blink of an eye. A community was left shaken, and hearts were forever broken in the wake of her passing. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that her murder has never been solved, with her killer still possibly on the loose.
Thirty-nine years have passed since Elana took her last breath, and still, no answers to the questions surrounding her death have been found. We spoke with Elana’s childhood friend, Lorraine Garris.
Garris, an LPN now in her 50’s and living in Joplin, Missouri, describes Elana as the sweetest girl anybody could ever know, with a bubbly personality and a fun spirit. She also said with a smile, “Elana really loved her salads, and everyone really loved her, as she loved everyone.”
A Young Girl, Remembered
Reminiscing on the fond memories she had of her best friend and various times they spent as children, Garris spoke about some of the things they enjoyed doing together.
“My dad used to pick us both up and take us down to the Tampa Grand Prix, where he’d drop us off and let us have fun for the night. He would come to pick us up before it got too late. We loved hanging out in the arcade.” She also stated, “We loved doing our homework together every night. She was so good at math. I was too.”
Elana was an 8th grader at Zephyrhills Junior High, where her picture still adorns the wall as a tribute to her memory.
“I lived on a ranch and had horses, and Elana loved to ride. I used to let her ride her favorite, Rusty, which was a Quarter Horse. We would ride almost every day. Sometimes, we would go down to the KOA Campground and ride the trails there. When Elana died, I cut a small part of Rusty’s mane and braided it. I put elastic at each end to secure it, and I placed it into her casket at her funeral,” said Garris.
Garris went on to tell us about Quail Hollow, the community within Wesley Chapel in which they lived, was barely built up at that time. She talked about how safe the neighborhood was, stating “We used to walk the back roads at night.”
Elana had just gotten off her school bus on the afternoon of December 4th, 1981. She was on her way home on foot, when she was shot two times, and left on the side of the road to die. She was shot only 500 yards from her home, according to Lorraine. Police reports stated there was a black motorcycle seen speeding from the area, that having been the only clue to her potential murderer.
Elana was found by Garris and her sister after they too arrived home from school. They saddled up their horses to go riding. While riding, they found Elana on the side of the road, still alive but suffering tremendously.
When we asked Garris about the murder, the pain in her response was tangible.
“I still have nightmares about finding her on the side of the road like that until today. I can never get the image out of my head. She looked at me with a look in her eyes that just screamed, ‘help me’. She couldn’t speak. She was just rolling from side to side, one bullet in her head, and another in her stomach.”
Elana was transported to the hospital, where doctors had to shave her head to remove the bullet lodged in her brain and was placed into a medically induced coma. Garris recalls asking her father to bring her to the hospital, where she said Elana was unrecognizable. “It just didn’t look like her at all. Her face was all swollen, and her hair was gone.”
About a week later, Elana sadly passed away.
“At her funeral, she had a wig that looked almost like her real hair. She looked so beautiful,” said Garris
When asked what Garris would like to say to Elana if she could, she said with conviction, “I would like Elana to know that we will bring her justice. The truth will come out sooner or later. She had her life stolen from her, but we will find justice for Elana.”
Since Elana’s passing, both her mother Marjorie Goldstein, and her father, Robert Goldstein have passed away. They never learned who their daughter’s murderer was, or saw the justice served that Elana rightfully deserved. Marjorie, Robert, and Elana are all buried in Crystal River Florida at Crystal River Memorial Park Cemetery.
We have reached out to Elana’s brothers for comment and additional information and will update this case as new information comes in.
This is where the public can help.
A Detective formerly working on Elana’s case, Fay Wilber, believed a man serving a 200-year prison sentence named Ronald Allen Clark – who died in prison in 1993 –was responsible for Elana’s death. Yet, there was never any evidence to support this claim.
If you have any information or possible tips regarding the murder of Elana Goldstein, please reach out to Sergeant Jason Hatcher with the Pasco County Sherriff’s Department at (727) 847-5878 or 1-800-706-2488.
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