Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
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Marathon - Residents living near the Marathon airport called Sheriff's dispatchers Sunday just before noon after they saw a skydiver's parachute float through the air and become entangled in electric lines - with no skydiver attached.
The chute belonged to 43 year old Craig Coben of Copley, Ohio. Coben cut the chute loose when it failed to open as he was skydiving with a skydiving association called Aerohio. The group will reportedly be skydiving in Marathon through Tuesday. Coben used his secondary chute to land safely and he was not injured. The chute was removed from the electric lines by Florida Keys Electric Coop.
Sugarloaf Key - Sheriff's deputies, along with a number of volunteers from various agencies, removed 40 raccoons Friday morning from two cages on a heavily wooded vacant lot on Upper Sugarloaf Key.
A neighbor who lives in the Indian Mounds subdivision called the Sheriff's Office after he detected a strong unpleasant odor in his neighborhood and decided to investigate. He followed his nose, and found two large cages on a vacant lot on Caribe Street. In the cages were 40 raccoons. The smell was emanating from a large amount of raccoon feces in and around the cages. The neighbor met with Deputy Charlie Cobb and showed him the cages and the raccoons.
According to Deputy Cobb, the raccoons appeared to have been in the cages for some time. He said most of the raccoons were in fairly good shape, and had apparently received food and water on a regular basis.
Upon investigation, Deputy Cobb discovered a mentally handicapped woman who lives nearby who said she trapped the raccoons because they were coming into her house. She said she fed the raccoons and gave them water, but didn't know what else to do with them. Deputy Chris Scott, who has a state license to capture and transport wild raccoons, responded and helped remove the raccoons from the cages safely and humanely. A number of agencies that deal with animals responded to the scene, including Stand Up for Animals, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wildlife Rescue and the Wild Bird Center along with Dr. Jeff Bailey, a Veterinarian, who took the animals that were in need of immediate medical attention.
Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested Thursday after he sold four ounces of cocaine to an undercover operative working for the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division.
Detectives working the case say the meeting took place Thursday afternoon and 55 year old George Malgrat handed over four ounces of cocaine in exchange for cash in the parking lot of a North Roosevelt Boulevard restaurant. After the exchange, Malgrat was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine. He then gave permission for officers to search his home at B-15 8th Avenue on Stock Island. During the search, two more ounces of cocaine in half ounce packages were found, along with 20 gram sized packages of cocaine, and two pounds of marijuana in various sized packages. Drug paraphernalia was also seized at the residence, along with Malgrat's 2004 F150 Pickup Truck and $1,000.00 in cash.
He was further charged with a second count of trafficking in cocaine, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The Sheriff's Office was assisted in the investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Key West Police and Border Patrol.
Lower Keys - A Tennessee man who said the planes were driving him crazy threatened guards at the entrance to the Naval Air Station at Boca Chica today, then fled from deputies who were attempting to take him into custody.
41 year old James Carson reportedly pulled up at the entrance to NAS Boca Chica just after 9 a.m. and began yelling at the guards about the noise made by planes at the base. During the course of his tirade, he reportedly used a number of racial slurs and threatened to kill them repeatedly. When he left the scene, he reportedly swerved attempting to hit one of the guards with his truck. He then fled in his Toyota pickup truck, pulling a jetski on a trailer, heading southbound to Key West.
Deputy John McGee spotted the truck at Smather's Beach in Key West, and recognized it from a notice to be on the lookout, issued over police radios just minutes before. Carson was out of the truck, standing by the water on the seawall on South Roosevelt Boulevard when the deputy pulled up. Carson ran for the truck and, when Deputy McGee tried to stop him, Carson shoved the deputy and jumped back into his vehicle. As he was jumping into the vehicle, Deputy McGee pepper sprayed him. According to the deputy, Carson then sat in his truck with the doors locked and the windows up and made a phone call to an unknown person. As he was doing that, officers broke out one of the trucks rear windows and Carson was pepper sprayed again, but before he could be removed from the truck, Carson took off, heading north bound out of the city.
Key West Police and Sheriff's deputies followed Carson with lights and sirens as he fled up U.S. One at speeds between 50 and 65 miles per hour. At one point, he veered from his lane and attempted to knock Deputy McGee off his police motorcycle. A set of stinger spikes were used on the truck at the Bow Channel Bridge at the 20.2 mile marker and one truck tire was punctured slowing him to speeds of around 25 miles per hour, but he still didn't stop. A second set of stinger spikes was set up at the south entrance to Big Pine Key and a second truck tire and a tire on the trailer were punctured. At that point, Carson was driving on the wheel rims and traveling about 10 miles per hour, veering into traffic and endangering members of the public. Detective Bobby Randolph and Deputy Matt Dowling then used their patrol vehicles to box him in and bring him to a stop. Their vehicles sustained minor damage, but Carson was taken into custody without any injury to himself or anyone else.
At the scene, as he was being handcuffed, he again said the planes were driving him crazy. A search of the truck turned up a stun gun, two containers of pepper spray and a sword, described by officers as a "large Conan the Barbarian sword in a fancy scabbard."
Carson was charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement officers, battery and aggravated battery on law enforcement officers, aggravated fleeing and eluding and willful, wanton reckless driving. He was booked into the Monroe County detention center.
Lower Keys - Sheriff's detectives say they have identified the man found floating in Cow Key Channel Thursday.
Preliminary results from an autopsy show that 55 year old Paul Henrichs death was consistent with drowning. Some tests from the autopsy have not returned as of yet, so the cause of death remains under investigation. Henrichs lived on board a boat in Cow Key Channel, not too far from where his body was recovered Thursday morning.
Key Largo - A Memphis Tennessee man died while diving on the wreck "The Duane" Friday morning.
60 year old Lawrence Thurman was diving from the commercial dive vessel Tropical Voyager with a group of divers. His dive buddy told investigators he and Thurman dove to 90 feet for about 17 minutes, then began surfacing. He said they stopped at 15 feet and Thurman indicated he was having some sort of problem. They then reached the surface and swam to the boat's tow line, at which time Thurman reportedly collapsed. He was brought on board the boat unconscious and not breathing. Members of the crew began Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and he was brought in to Key Largo Harbor Marina. He was pronounced dead at Mariner's Hospital.
An autopsy has been done and, according to investigators, the death appears to be diving related. Final autopsy reports are pending and should be obtained from the Medical Examiner's Office.
January 20, 2005
Monroe County - Three Marathon teens found out that the high from ingesting a common plant called "Angel's Trumpet", also known as Jimson weed, is not as much fun they thought it would be.
The three were hospitalized late Wednesday at Fishermen's hospital after they steeped some of the plant and drank it as a tea. One of the three became so violent from hallucinations that it required three deputies standing by at the hospital for several hours to make sure he, and hospital personnel, were safe.
The plant has beautiful trumpet shaped flowers which bloom in late winter and early spring, hanging down from the lush green foliage. They emit an "Angelic" odor in the late evenings, which accounts for the name. They come in a variety of colors from purple, to pink, red, yellow or white, and the seeds for the plant can be easily obtained on the internet, or from nurseries. The plant grows all over the southern United States, from Florida to Texas, Arizona, the Carolinas and California. People who have them growing in their yards may not even know how deadly the plants can be. Word gets around among kids, however, who are under the mistaken impression that ingesting the plant will give them a cheap high. Every year Hospitals all over the county, the Sheriff's Office and other area law enforcement agencies have to deal with the aftermath of the ones who decide to experiment with the poisonous substance.
"I don't think they got the high they expected," said Marathon Detective Rick Martin. "I suspect they will be going back to school and will be telling their friends not to do it," he added.
Angel's Trumpet reportedly contains the substances atropine, hyoscine, and hyoscyamine. Ingesting Angel's Trumpet will cause symptoms ranging from headache, agitation, fever and dizziness, to hallucinations, convulsions, coma and death. There is no reliable way to measure a dose so a person who decides to eat, drink or chew the plant has no way of knowing what the effect will be. A parent should be cognizant of the possible symptoms and if they suspect their child has ingested the poisonous plant, they should take the child to the hospital immediately.
January 13, 2005
Grassy Key - Two men who live next door to Sheriff Rick Roth were arrested Wednesday after marijuana and two explosive devices were found in their residence.
Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigation's Division received reports that marijuana was being sold from the home on Guava Avenue, Grassy Key. According to the reports, the men who lived there would make jokes about the fact that they lived next to the Sheriff and were selling the drugs. A two month long investigation ensued, ending in the service of a search warrant Wednesday morning.
A search of the home turned up marijuana, drug paraphernalia and two suspected pipe bombs. A number of plastic bags containing marijuana residue found in a bedroom of the house indicated the marijuana was being packaged for sale. Detectives seized almost $4,000 in cash as possible proceeds from drug sales.
30 year old David Schugar was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with possessing the explosive devices after he admitted they were his. His roommate, 49 year old Michael Mariner was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both men were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
The scam is one used by inmates all over the country. Sheriff's Office dispatchers have received approximately 10 complaints in the past few weeks here in the Keys. Here's how it works. An inmate calls someone collect - the only way an inmate can make a call from any of the Monroe County Detention Centers, aside from using a pre-paid calling card. When the person he or she is calling accepts the collect call, the inmate asks for help making contact with someone. The inmate asks the person to dial a number, usually starting with *72 - a call forwarding feature. This calls a new number, billing the call to the person's phone and potentially running up a very large phone bill.
Anyone with call forwarding on their phone can fall victim to this scam. People need to be aware of it and say no when asked to make such a call - no matter how sympathetic the story they hear.
"Some of these inmates can sound really desperate - they might tell you they have to call their mother because she is sick; they might tell you they need to contact their child, or wife because of a crisis of some sort," said Major Tommy Taylor, Commander of Keys detention facilities. "Don't fall for it. In fact, if you receive a collect call from a detention center and don't know the person calling, or don't want to talk to the caller, don't accept the collect call in the first place," he said.
Anyone who is receiving repeated unwanted phone calls or harrassing phone calls from a Detention facility in the Keys should report the calls to the Sheriff's Office at 305-293-7300.
January 7, 2004
Marathon - An 18 year old Marathon girl reported being kidnapped as she was walking to a drugstore at 3:15 a.m. today (Friday).
The girl called the Sheriff's Office at 3:45 a.m. to report the incident. She told Deputy William Mader she was walking behind Walgreen's Drug Store on Industrial Road when a large black car pulled up. She said there were three black men in the car. The front and rear passengers reportedly jumped out. She said the front passenger had a small semi-automatic handgun and, although she was yelling and screaming, she was forced into the car.
The suspects reportedly drove her to the area between 39th and 41st Streets on the highway where they pushed her out of the car. The suspects car continued driving southbound. She walked to the Banana Bay Resort where she met up with a friend and called the Sheriff's Office.
The suspects were all described as black males with dread lock style hair. The driver was reportedly five foot seven inches tall and between 150 and 170 pounds. Both the front and rear passengers were described as five foot eleven inches tall, 180 pounds. The rear passenger had a black jacket and his top front teeth were gold.
The victim declined to be interviewed by detectives, and refused assistance from a Sheriff's Office Victim/Witness Advocate. She said she just wanted to go home and go to sleep. Detectives will be investigating.
Marathon - Deputies were called to the Tom Thumb store on 25th Street in Marathon Thursday to check on a report of a man with a gun.
When Deputies Robin Tanner and Dennis Coleman arrived, the clerk said two customers told her there was a man outside the store with a gun, asking for money. Upon investigating, the deputies found 58 year old Elam Robinson by the dumpsters. He had a small crossbow in his hands and was attempting to assemble it. He was ordered to drop it and he did. He was taken into custody. A knife was also found in his pocket. A six pack of beer was sitting on the ground near him, and he also had a beer in his pocket and he smelled strongly of alcohol. No gun was found.
Robinson was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
January 3, 2005
Sheriff’s detectives are investigating and seeking help in connection with a series of business burglaries and criminal mischief cases in the upper Keys. Detectives say that between December 24 and January 2, five businesses were burglarized and money taken from the cash registers. In four of the cases, the suspects or suspects either broke a window or forced open a door to gain entry. In one instance, entry was made through an unlocked window. The business burglaries occurred at Keys Castaways Consignments, Paradise Pizza, Ashleigh’s Attic, Brendaline’s and Chad’s Deli. All of these businesses are located between the 98 and 99-mile markers. Also, Sheriff’s detectives say that five other businesses in the same area were victims of criminal mischief cases between the dates of December 24 and 28. Four of the businesses reported windows broken by thrown rocks and one business reported that a door was forced open. However, the businesses reported that nothing was taken. The businesses reporting criminal mischief were Anderson Financial, McDonald CPA, Affordable Marine, Shell World and Thrifty Car Rental. Sheriff’s detectives are asking anyone who spotted suspicious activity or persons near these businesses from December 24 through January 2, to call Detective David Carey at 853-3211. Crime Stoppers will pay up to a one thousand dollar reward for information leading to an arrest in any of these cases. Callers may remain anonymous. The Crime Stoppers hotline is 1-800-346-TIPS (8477).