Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
Click on the highlighted headlines to hear an audio recording of the story
July 28, 2005
Two dead divers identified
Monroe County - Sheriff's detectives investigated two dive related deaths on the first day of the two day sport lobster season Wednesday.
58 year old Robert Moore of Punta Gorda, Florida was about to dive with his wife Wednesday morning. They were off shore of Sugarloaf Key, on teh Gulf side, and had donned dive gear and were in teh water. She realized she'd left her net and tickle stick in the boat and swam the short distance back to the boat to retreive them. When she returned to his location, he was in distress. She grabbed him and began swimming back to the boat. His dive gear was a hindrence, so she took it off and left it. Friends on teh boat helped get him on board and they began Cardio Pulmonary Resusitation and called 911 for assistance. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to their location and Moore was taken to shore, meeting a rescue unit at the Sugarloaf Lodge. He was transported to Lower Keys Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Moore was the Human Resources Director for the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
54 year old Larry Hancock of Fort Myers, Florida was staying with his wife at a friends house on Little Torch Key. He was diving with friends. His wife was in the boat. He surfaced and signaled to his wife that something was wrong. He then sunk beneath the surface. His friends were finally able to retreive him from the bottom, about 8 feet deep, and got him into the boat. They began performing Cardio Pulmonary Resusitation and called 911 for help. The United States Coast Guard met the vessel and transported Hancock to the end of Blimp Road on Cudjoe Key, where Rescue units picked him up and took him to Lower Keys Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Autopsies will be performed on both men today (Thursday) by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office. Contact that office for results of those autopsies.
West Summerland Key - Two men were caught Wednesday at 11:40 am with six undersized lobster.
Deputy Vincente Lopez made contact with the men on the shoreline of West Summerland Key at the 35 mile marker on the ocean side. He checked a mesh bag they had and found a total of eight lobster. Of the eight, seven showed evidence of being shot with a speargun. Six of them were undersized. One of the men, 42 year old Wigoberto Rodriguez of Hialeah, Florida took responsibility for the illegal catch. He was charged with possession of undersized crawfish and possession of punctured crawfish. The other man was issued a warning.
July 27, 2005
A diver discovered the body of a man in waters off the Bahia Honda bridge this morning. Sheriff's dive team members recovered the skeletal remains, which were turned over to the county medical examiner. The remains may be that of a Loxahatchee, Florida man who was reported missing on a dive in that area Monday afternoon. The man's son, his brother-in-law and his son's girlfriend were all on board the 30 foot center console when the incident occurred. They told detectives that 49-year old James Dobson surfaced from his dive and grabbed on to the boat and began removing his dive gear. He took off his tanks and other gear. He still had his mask and his weight belt on when he saw his dive flag begin to float away from the boat. he let go his grip on the boat to retrieve the flag and because of his the weight belt, he sunk under the surface. The witnesses said they did not see him again. Sheriff's dive team members searched the area, but called off the search Tuesday. The remains discovered today are likely Dobson's, but positive identification will require comparison with dental records.
Dive related deaths
Sheriff's detectives are investigating two apparent dive related deaths today during the first of the lobster mini-season in the Keys.
Both victims were transported to Lower Keys Medical Center this morning, but were pronounced dead. Both victims were scuba diving in separate areas of the Lower Keys when they reportedly lost consciousness. Companions administered CPR until they reached shore where rescue personnel transported the victims to the hospital. One victim is a 57-year old male from Punta Gorda, Florida; the other victim is a 54-year old male from Ft. Myers, Florida.
July 26, 2005
Bahia Honda - A Loxahatchee, Florida man, diving near the south end of the Bahia Honda Bridge, went missing Monday afternoon.
The man's son, his brother-in-law and his son's girlfriend were all on board the 30 foot Bluewater center console vessel when the incident occurred. They told detectives that 49 year old James Dobson surfaced from his dive, grabbed on to the boat and began removing his dive gear. He took off his tanks and other gear. He still had his mask and his weight belt on when he saw his dive flag begin to float away from the boat. He let go his grip on the boat to go after the flag and, because of the weight belt, he sunk under the surface. The witnesses say they did not see him again, and called for help when the realized he was not going to resurface.
The Sheriff's Office Dive Team, the Sheriff's Trauma Star helicopter, the United States Coast Guard and the Fish and Wildlife Commission all searched for Dobson until 6:40 p.m. when it became too dark to continue. The search was resumed this morning (Tuesday), but he has not yet been found (as of 10 a.m.).
Stock Island - A Key West man was arrested on an outstanding warrant today (Tuesday), charged with stabbing another man in the back during a fight Sunday night.
Deputy Evan Calhoun responded to reports of a fight at 8:45 p.m. Sunday on 8th Street on Stock Island. When he arrived, he found the victim, 20 year old Edward Harry,who had been pepper sprayed in the face, and stabbed in the back during a fight with another man. Harry, and a number of witnesses who watched the fight take place, identified the suspect in the stabbing as 19 year old Gregg Harden of Key West. Deputy Calhoun recovered a knife on the scene which is believed to be the weapon used in the stabbing.
The victim and witnesses said Harden drove up to them in a black Chevrolet Cavalier as they were standing on the street. He began arguing with Harry, then pulled down the street, parked and got out of his car. Harry approached him and Harden sprayed him in the face with pepper spray. Harry swung at him in defense and the two began fighting. During the course of the fight, Harden stabbed Harry in the back. Harden then jumped into his car and fled the area. Harry was treated and released at Lower Keys Hospital.
Detective Donald Catala was assigned the investigation and obtained a signed warrant for Harden's arrest. Harden was arrested Tuesday morning on the warrant, which has bond set at $50,000.00.
Key West - A deputy, checking reports of illegal disposal of waste from a boat in Key West Harbor, arrested a man who threatened him and refused to comply with his requests to inspect his vessel's sanitation devices.
Deputy Paul Schultz was on boat patrol Monday morning when he received information about a live-a-board boater who had been bragging that he was discharging sewage directly into the water and about not having a legal marine sanitation device on his boat. As Deputy Schultz approached, 45 year old George Davis began climbing off his boat onto his dinghy. The deputy ordered him back on board and he complied. Deputy Schultz asked if he had a weapon in the fanny pack he was wearing, and Davis admitted to having a knife, which he removed upon the deputy's request. Deputy Schultz told Davis he was there to inspect his marine sanitation device. Davis told him it was in the front of the boat.
When the deputy asked if there were any weapons in the boat, Davis pointed to himself and said "everything here is a weapon." He then began to threaten the deputy, telling him he shouldn't be there alone, and refusing to allow an inspection of his sanitation device. Davis began to yell for other boaters to come help him and, when one nearby man jumped onto his dinghy and began heading in that direction, Deputy Schultz felt his safety was threatened since he was there by himself, without a back up officer. At that point, he placed Davis under arrest for failing to comply with his orders.
He put Davis on board his law enforcement vessel and headed toward the nearby Coast Guard base. On the way, Davis continued to threaten him, saying when he got out of jail he would make the deputy "pay for what he had done." Davis was charged with failing to allow an inspection of his marine sanitation device, resisting arrest, threatening the deputy and, after an 8 inch folding knife was found in his possession, with carrying a concealed weapon. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
Cudjoe Key - A local man, performing work at a Cudjoe Key residence, allegedly stole two engagement rings and was arrested for burglary.
The victim called the Sheriff's Office to report the rings had been stolen on Friday afternoon. Deputy Vincente Lopez took the initial report and Detective Donald Catala handled the subsequent investigation. She told Deputy Lopez the two rings were missing from their hiding place, in a closet of her home on Port Royal Lane. She said she last saw them two weeks before. She admitted that she never locks the doors of her house.
Investigation revealed that the victim had the brother of one of her employee's working for her at her house. 41 year old Robert Santana was doing some minor construction work for her and had been left alone in the house during the course of the job. Santana's sister confronted him and he admitted to taking the rings. He said he took them, wrapped them in a paper towel and hid them under the couch cushions in the victim's house.
The rings were recovered and a warrant was obtained by Detective Catala for burglary with bond set at $30,000. Santana was arrested today (Tuesday) and booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
July 25, 2005
Cudjoe Key - The man wanted for stabbing a homeless man a week ago was arrested as he was riding his bicycle on Cudjoe Key Saturday morning.
Deputy David Chavka was on patrol at 11 a.m. when he spotted 46 year old Jose Santana. The deputy knew Santana was wanted on an outstanding warrant for aggravated battery. Deputy Chavka informed Santana he was under arrest. Santana said he was not trying to evade capture, and was planning on turning himself in after his birthday - August 21st.
Santana is accused of stabbing another homeless man on July 17th. The victim told Detective Henry Hamilton that Santana was trying to cut down an American Flag which is attached to the Cow Key Channel Bridge. When the victim confronted Santana, Santana allegedly stabbed him with a knife. When Santana was arrested, he asked Deputy Chavka if he could take a yellow fanny pack with him to the jail. Inside the fanny pack the deputy found a knife. It is unknown if it was the knife used in the stabbing.
Santana was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on the warrant, which specifies no bond allowed.
Bay Point - A Miami man, stopped for driving slowly on the highway and obstructing traffic, was arrested after he admitted to having marijuana in his truck.
Deputy Andrew Ensminger was on patrol at 11:30 p.m. Saturday when he saw the silver colored Dodge pickup truck driving ahead of him. The truck was traveling 40 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone and was weaving slightly from side to side. Deputy Ensminger noticed that a long line of traffic was backed up behind the truck, so he pulled it over to the side of the road.
When he approached the driver, 29 year old Kurosh Bashiri, he noticed the man was sweating profusely. He asked why and Bashiri said his air conditioning wasn't working. He then turned the air conditioning knob to demonstrate the problem. When the air began blowing, the deputy suddenly smelled a strong odor of marijuana. He asked Bashiri if he had marijuana in the truck. Bashiri said yes and reached behind the driver's seat, handing Deputy Ensminger a bag with 250 grams of the illegal substance. Bashiri was removed from the truck and patted down for officer safety. The deputy found a large roll of cash in his pocket - totaling $3,382.00. Bashiri told the deputy he was planning to buy more marijuana with it. He admitted to having a drug problem.
Bashiri was charged with possession of marijuana and the cash was seized for possible forfeiture.
Key Largo - After dispatchers received several calls about a truck that couldn't stay in it's lane, deputies stopped the truck and arrested the driver for possessing suspected heroin, unknown pills and drug paraphernalia.
Deputy Jose Carballo stopped the truck at noon on Saturday for having an expired tag as it was driving southbound at the 95.5 mile marker. The driver, 21 year old Shawn Breitenstein of Stock Island was nervous and shaking when the deputy approached his truck. He told Deputy Carballo he was tired because he was running errands for a family member. He gave the deputy permission to search the truck, saying that there may be traces of marijuana on the floorboards.
Sgt. Mitch Horn arrived as back up. The search of the truck turned up 10 small plastic bags of a brownish powder suspected to be heroin. Drug paraphernalia was also found, including a syringe, a spoon and a glass pipe.
Breitenstein was charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia and he was booked into jail.
Big Pine Key - Deputies on patrol stopped a Big Pine Key man who was driving erratically Friday night. They arrested him for driving while impaired and possessing cocaine.
Deputy Andrew Ensminger saw an older model Volvo station wagon northbound on Watson Boulevard. He saw the car weaving back and forth, crossing the center line and speeding. He pulled the car over near the corner of Warbler Lane and Watson Boulevard. The driver, 57 year old Edward Branczek, admitted to drinking earlier in the evening. The deputy saw a plastic cup with a liquid in it on the floor of the vehicle. As the deputy checked Branczek's license, he noticed that the man kept sniffing, talking to himself and laughing at the things he was saying.
Deputy Henry Delvalle arrived as back up. Branczek failed to complete field sobriety exercises and was arrested for driving while impaired. When the deputies attempted to handcuff him he struggled with them. The deputies used a wrist lock and a knee spike to subdue him. A search of his pockets turned up four plastic bags of cocaine in his front picket and another plastic bag of the drug inside a Marlboro cigarette pack in another pocket. A Marlboro box in the back of the car contained another six plastic bags of cocaine for a total of 12 grams of the drug.
Branczek was charged with Driving under the Influence, resisting arrest and possession of cocaine. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
July 21, 2005
Stock Island - Thanks to a Crime Stoppers tip, the suspect who stabbed a homeless man Sunday evening has been identified. A warrant has been issued for his arrest for aggravated battery with bond set at $20,000.00.
Detective Henry Hamilton says he obtained a signed warrant for 46 year old Jose "Tito" Santana today (Thursday) based on the Crime Stoppers tip, and on subsequent photo identification of Santana by the victim. The victim told Detective Hamilton he was sitting on the Cow Key Channel Bridge watching the sunset when a man he knows as "Tito", later identified as Santana, approached. He said Santana took out a knife and began to cut the wooden pole on an American flag attached to the bridge. When the victim objected to this behavior, he said Santana stabbed him. The victim said the two also had a prior disagreement which may have contributed to the stabbing. He said two months before, they were both living under the bridge. He said Santana was stealing other homeless people's belongings. The victim removed all of Santana's belongings from under the bridge and put them at the roadside. They subsequently disappeared, and Santana reportedly blames the victim for the loss of his things.
Detective Hamilton said he has information that Santana may have shaved off all of his hair to avoid identification in this case. Anyone with information about Santana's whereabouts should call the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers whose tip leads to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Secure and anonymous email tips can be made at www.tipsubmit.com
Key Largo - Detectives from the Special Operations Division served a search warrant Wednesday afternoon, arresting two women on drug related charges.
Detectives served the warrant at 100 Atlantic Drive after investigations revealed evidence of drug dealing from the residence. Once inside, the search turned up 86 Xanax pills, cocaine and marijuana along with numerous items of drug paraphernalia. The resident, 35 year old Judith Harnsberger, admitted to selling cocaine and Xanax. She said she was selling drugs because she couldn't find a job. She was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
While the search was taking place, 43 year old Vicky Beckman of Key Largo arrived at the residence. Detectives asked permission to search her purse and she agreed. They found cocaine in the purse, so she was arrested and charged with possessing the drug.
The search turned up numerous other items taken into evidence, including over $800 cash suspected to be the proceeds of drug sales; an Aladdin slot machine; a knife, and a police baton.
Both women were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
July 18, 2005
Fleming Key - A Key West man was found dead on a rocky beach on Fleming Key Sunday. It appears he fell into the water while climbing onto or off of the sailboat he lived on, anchored just offshore of that island.
Detectives say the 73 year old victim's body showed no obvious signs of foul play and there were no signs of struggle on board the man's boat. The victim's name is being withheld pending notification of his next of kin. The sailboat is moored off the southwest side of Fleming Key. A bag with some of the man's personal possessions was found on the edge of the boat, with the dinghy beside the boat, as if the man were climbing onto or off of the dinghy when he fell into the water.
Detectives say they found evidence the man had taken money from the bank on Friday. Most of the money was recovered, along with his wallet and credit cards which were found in the pocket of the shorts he was wearing when he was found. Investigators believe he may have died sometime Friday night or Saturday. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.
Stock Island - A 40 year old homeless man, who resides under the Cow Key Channel Bridge, was stabbed by another homeless man Sunday night.
The victim told Deputy David Lariz, Jr. that the suspect, who he only knows as "Tito", was also staying under the bridge. He said Tito was stealing from the other homeless residents under the bridge, so a couple of months ago the victim says he gathered Tito's things and move them to the side of the roadway and he told Tito to leave. Tito did not collect his things for several days and, by the time he did, most of his belongings were gone. According to the victim, Tito holds the victim responsible and says the victim owes him.
On Sunday, the victim says he was sitting on the top of the bridge watching the sunset when Tito approached him, they argued, and Tito stabbed him in the abdomen. A witness told deputies he heard the argument, heard someone say "put the knife away" then heard someone say "why did you stab me." Tito allegedly fled the scene on his bicycle.
The victim refused transport to the hospital and instead, rode his bike to the emergency room where he was treated for his injury. Employees at the hospital later reported that the victim left against medical advice.
Detectives are investigating. Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers whose tip leads to an arrest are eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Secure and anonymous email tips can be made at www.tipsubmit.com
Stock Island - A Key West woman was charged with burglary and battery after she broke into a Maloney Avenue residence Saturday afternoon, attacking two women inside.
Deputies Jorge Morffi, Maretta Costarakis and Freddy Rodriguez responded to 6630 Maloney Avenue, #5 at 2:30 p.m. Saturday to reports of a break in and a fight. When they arrived, the victims said 34 year old Karla James had forced her way inside and had tried to attack one of the victim's, who was pregnant. The other victim intervened and was injured by James on the chest, neck and left arm. While in the residence, she punched through two doors. On her way out, she threw a scooter at the first victim's car, causing damage to the windshield and hood.
James was found at a residence on Big Coppitt Key where she was placed under arrest. She was charged with burglary, battery and criminal mischief.
Key Largo - A deputy checking out loud music coming from a vehicle ended up arresting the driver for possession of pills and marijuana Friday in the early morning hours.
Deputy John Perez was in the vicinity of the 100 mile marker at 3 a.m. Friday when he heard loud music coming from a pickup truck parked at a nearby restaurant. He approached the driver, 18 year old Christopher Frasher, asking him why his music was so loud and asking him for his identification. Frasher turned down the music, and told the deputy he did not have a driver's license with him, but gave Deputy Perez his name and social security number so he could check to see if he had a valid license.
Deputy Perez asked Frasher for permission to search his car for contraband. Frasher agreed to the search. Deputy Jeffrey Parker arrived as back up and the two deputies searched the truck. They found a bag containing marijuana hidden behind the glove compartment and another bag, with more marijuana and some pills inside, on the rear seat. Also in the rear of the truck was a pipe, used for smoking marijuana. The pills were identified as Hydrocodone and Oxycontin which Frasher said he was taking for pain. He admitted he had no prescription for the pills.
Frasher was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
July 14, 2005
Big Pine Key - A search warrant, served by the Special Operations Division Wednesday night at Seahorse Trailer Park on Big Pine Key led to the arrest of two men on drug related charges.
The warrant was a result of an investigation into possible drug activity. Numerous Crime Stoppers tips have been received about suspicious activity taking place in that area.
The Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics team made entry to the residence, located at 201 County Road on Big Pine Key, lot MH3 in the Seahorse Trailer Park. Once entry was made, detectives searched the residence. 44 year old Richard Showers was on the couch at the time the warrant was served. Under him, on the couch, detectives found a pipe with crack cocaine residue in it. Detectives then found a crack cocaine "cookie" weighing approximately 27 grams in a bedroom belonging to 27 year old Adelson Marc. Also in that bedroom was a bag containing 10 grams of marijuana, and a scale commonly used to weigh illegal substances.
Both men were arrested. Showers was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. Marc was charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and paraphernalia. They were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
July 12, 2005
Hurricane Dennis Fatality
A 58-year old Stock Island man apparently drowned when his 40-foot sailboat sank dockside as Hurricane Dennis lashed Stock Island Friday night.
Sheriff’s divers last night recovered the body of Ludolph "Jerry" Wilson, Jr. inside a forward hatch of the sailboat that sank in about 15 feet of water. Witnesses told Sheriff’s investigators that that the boat sank within seconds of being slammed against the seawall where it was docked late Friday night. The witnesses thought that the sole occupant had evacuated, but when he didn’t show up for work late in the day Monday they called the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s dive team member, Sgt. Daryl Hull, made a preliminary dive search of the sunken vessel and discovered the body underneath cushions in a forward hatch.
Sgt. Hull requested assistance in the recovery effort. Dive team members Henry Hamilton, Bob Smith and Bob Jason assisted in recovery of the body. An autopsy is scheduled to determine cause of death.
July 6, 2005
Man charged with five counts of burglary
Stock Island - A Little Torch Key man was arrested Tuesday for trespassing in a Stock Island home was charged today with two vehicle burglaries and three home burglaries.
The burglaries 22 year old Alexander Chavez is charged with all took place in the Stock Island area between June 25th and June 30th. He is accused of breaking in to cars on 10th Avenue and on Robyn Lane and breaking into homes on 10th Avenue, 9th Avenue and on Miriam Street. He was originally taken into custody Tuesday for trespassing by Deputies Robert Bulness and Sonya Morgan after the park manager at Roy's Trailer Park on Stock Island spotted him and another man inside a trailer at 2:40 in the afternoon. He called the Sheriff's Office and the deputies arrived while Chavez and 21 year old Jorge Nodal were still inside. The owner of the trailer was contacted and confirmed the men did not have permission to be inside.
Detectives Henry Hamilton and Jeremy Davy were investigating the five burglaries. They interviewed Nodal and Chavez at the Monroe County Detention Center. Nodal gave the detectives information and evidence linking Chavez to the crimes and, during questioning, Chavez admitted to committing the burglaries. He was charged with five counts of burglary and remains in the Monroe County Detention Center.
Tavernier - A teen caught burglarizing a car on Sterling Road in Tavernier Saturday in the early morning hours was identified after he left his car running at the scene with his wallet inside.
The victim told Deputy Carlos Valdes and Sgt. David Carey he heard the door on his vehicle open at about 2 a.m. and went outside to check on it. He saw a teen, later identified as 16 year old Nicholas Matthews, rummaging through the 2003 Ford F150 pickup truck. When the teen realized he'd been spotted he fled on foot, leaving his 1997 Ford Explorer parked at the curb, running, with his wallet inside.
Sgt. Joe Moran went to Matthews' residence and spoke with his mother. His mother called him and and then told the officers they could find him waiting at the Circle K store at the 92 mile marker. Deputies met with Matthews there and he admitted to breaking in to the truck. He said he was trying to find cash. He was placed under arrest, charged with burglary and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.
July 5, 2005
Deputies responded to reports of 54 accidents between Friday and Tuesday morning. Most of the accidents were turned over to the Florida Highway Patrol for investigation. Of those: