Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences
April 23, 2010
Search warrant results in three arrests
Marathon - Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division served a search warrant in Marathon, arresting three people on drug charges. The warrant was served in conjunction with detectives from the city of Key West.
The warrant was served at 5:30 a.m. at 10840 4th Avenue Gulfside. Inside the house, detectives found 33 year old Dwayne Hardge, 29 year old Rosetta Leatherwood and 39 year old Calvin Washington, all Marathon residents. Detectives also found 35 grams of Marijuana, two grams of Cocaine and numerous items of drug paraphernalia. Hardge was charged with possession of Marijuana and Cocaine; Leatherwood was charged with possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia; Washington was charged with possession of Marijuana, Cocaine and Drug Paraphernalia.
All three were booked into jail. A City of Key West K-9 Team assisted with service of the search warrant.
Two arrested for robbery
Key Largo - Two Key Largo teens have been charged with robbery in an attack that took place near Tradewind's Plaza April 11th.
The victim, a 22 year old man from Homestead, works in the plaza. He told Deputy George Rosemeyer he was at Key Largo park prior to going to work on April 11th. He said he was taking pictures, then walked through a wooded area on his way to work. He said just as he emerged from the wooded area, he was attacked from behind. He said three young males hit him in the head, knocking him to the ground. He said they took his camera from his hand and kicked him several times demanding his wallet. He said he got up and ran away from them, calling 911 for help.
Several days later, the victim called the Sheriff's Office from work to say two of the three young men who attacked him were at the Plaza. Deputies responded and identified the two as 16 year old Key Largo residents Darrell Baker and Demond Scott. The victim confirmed them as his attackers and Detective Mike Wilkinson applied for warrants for their arrest. Today, Baker and Scott were charged with robbery and they were booked into jail.
April 22, 2010
Man arrested for burglary, dealing in stolen property
Marathon - A Big Coppitt Key man is under arrest, accused of stealing appliances from a house under construction and then selling them.
Deputies took a report of stolen appliances on February 23nd. They were taken from a house on Sombrero Beach Road which was under construction. The new wine cooler and small refrigerator were still in their packaging and had just been delivered. The owner of the house said he keeps a hidden key outside for people who are working on the house. The key was missing. He said the items had been taken sometime over the weekend.
The night before the refrigerators were reported stolen, deputies stopped a vehicle near 39th Street. The vehicle had been reported missing from Key West. The driver, Tavaris Lamar Jackson, was issued a citation for no driver's license and the vehicle was towed. Jackson told the officers earlier in the day he'd been approached by a man who offered to pay him for his help. He said they went to a house on Sombrero Beach Road and took two refrigerators from inside. The man - later identified as 48 year old Daryl Akers - said he was working in the house. He said the refrigerators wouldn't fit and needed to be sold.
The two men sold the refrigerators to Byer's Used Furniture. The owner gave them $100.00 and told them to return the next day for the balance of $50.00. Although the Sheriff's Office hadn't received a report yet matching the information, Deputy Nicholas Whiteman documented it, checking the house and finding it unlocked. At the time, he tried to contact the owner but was unable to. He also went to the business and confirmed Jackson's story. He told the furniture store owner not to sell the appliances until detectives could investigate further.
After the homeowner called to report the burglary, Detective Marc Maison spoke with the owner of the furniture store. He asked him to contact the Sheriff's Office when someone came back to collect the cash balance. The man agreed.
That same day, Akers entered the store to collect the balance. The owner told him he was busy and to come back later; he then called Detective Maison. The detective, along with the victim of the crime, went to the store. Akers showed up and the victim identified him as one of the painters working for him. The owner of the store confirmed Ackers was one of the two men who sold him the refrigerators, the other one being Jackson.
A warrant was obtained for Akers' arrest and on Wednesday, he was arrested on the warrant. He was charged with burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property.
April 21, 2010
Detectives investigating burglaries, thefts from lawn service businesses
Monroe County - Detectives say they are investigating a series of burglaries and thefts from lawn service businesses, mostly in the upper Keys.
Since November, lawn service companies have been victimized six times; one in Marathon, and five in the area of Tavernier. Thieves are stealing chain saws, blowers, weed-eaters and other lawn equipment. Detectives say it may once again be criminals from the Miami area preying on businesses in the Keys. In one instance, a truck was stolen - presumably to transport the stolen equipment - and was later recovered in Miami.
In November, Plantation Tree and Landscape at the 92mm had a lock on the main gate cut. Five work trucks were broken into and the offices were ransacked. A gun safe was taken, along with several guns; chain saws, blowers and weed-eaters were taken. A sixth truck was stolen and later recovered.
Between February 26th and the 28th, Dot Palm in Marathon had its chain link fence cut; suspects then took seven chain saws from storage containers on the property.
Between March 8th and 9th, Tim Matthews Tree and Landscape on Hood Avenue had five chain saws stolen from a truck; that same night, a storage yard for Florida Keys Electric Co-op lost three chain saws from vehicles parked in the yard.
Between April 1st and 3rd, Artistic Lawn and Landscaping at the 80.8mm had lawn equipment and tools taken from an unlocked trailer.
Between April 14th and 15th, the owner of Tavernier Lawn Mower Sales found a rear garage door forced open; an alarm panel was cut and suspects stole a large quantity of new lawn equipment.
Detectives have regularly checked pawn shops, and are working with other south Florida law enforcement agencies to keep an eye out for the stolen items. Anyone with information about these cases should call Sheriff's detectives or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.
April 20, 2010
Detectives continue their investigations into Islamorada hotel burglaries
Sheriff’s detectives say they are actively continuing their investigation into the string of Islamorada hotel burglaries that have taken place over the past eight months. They continue to ask for the public’s help in investigating their case.
Captain Don Fanelli says there have been no more of the burglaries since they began an intensive surveillance operation, and since they’ve educated the public and the business community in what to do to avoid becoming a victim of crime. He believes Sheriff’s Office efforts, and it’s partnership with the community, have been successful for the time being.
“This doesn’t mean the crimes won’t start again at some point,” said Captain Fanelli. “We haven’t charged anyone with the crimes and the minute any of our efforts slack off, he may start up again.”
During the two months of surveillance, Detectives did make one interesting arrest, albeit one they cannot right now directly link to the hotel crimes. On April 11th, at 4 a.m., Detective Patricia Garcia and Deputy Pedro Garcia saw 40 year old Dale William Chapman, a resident of Islamorada, walking on the old road at mile marker 82. They stopped him to see what he was doing in the area at such an early hour. When he was stopped, Chapman had possession of potential burglary tools – two socks in his hands which could have been used to cover his hands during a crime to avoid leaving fingerprints. When asked what he was doing, he gave several different stories none of which were credible when examined closely. He said he had the socks with him to “wipe his eyes with”.
Upon further investigation by Detective Greg LaRochelle, it was discovered Chapman had been arrested in 1995 for similar crimes – occupied burglaries to some of the same hotels which were burglarized recently. The method of operation used in the 1995 crimes is similar in nature to the recent crimes as well, including Chapman’s use of socks to avoid leaving fingerprints.
Chapman was arrested and charged with loitering and prowling and with possession of burglary tools. He had his suspended driver’s license in his possession and was charged with possession of a suspended license as well..
The investigation into Mr. Chapman is ongoing. The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in this case. Detectives want to hear from anyone who may have purchased any property from Mr. Chapman between July of 2009 and April 11, 2010 or anyone who has any other information which might help clear up the hotel burglaries which took place in Islamorada between those dates. Anyone that has such information is asked to contact Detective Jason Madnick at (305) 853-3211 or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys at (305) 289-2410. Callers to Crime Stoppers whose information leads to an arrest would be eligible for a substantial cash reward if the information leads to an arrest. Crime Stoppers tips may also be made on-line at www.tipsubmit.com.
April 19, 2010
Marathon man gets stuck attempting to steal sand
Marathon - A Marathon man is under arrest after he got stuck on Coco Plum Beach Sunday night while trying to steal a truck load of sand.
Deputies David Stubblefield, Leon Bourcier and Sgt. Ken Fricke responded to Coco Plum Beach at 8:40 p.m. Sunday to calls from people about a truck full of sand stuck on the beach. When he arrived, he found the 1989 Ford F150 truck with it's rear wheels deep in the sand. The back of the truck was full of sand as well, and there was a large hole in the beach nearby where the sand had evidently been removed.
The driver, 46 year old Brian Splain, said he needed sand for a job he was doing so he got some from the beach. He said he was turning around and got too close to the water and got stuck. While Splain was talking with deputies, they observed he appeared to be impaired by some kind of substance. He was asked to perform field sobriety exercises, which he failed.
Splain was charged with grand theft of the sand, criminal mischief and driving while impaired. He was booked into jail.
Fire destroys Plantation Key home
Plantation Key - Fire destroyed a home in Plantation Key early today.
Deputy Barney Sajdak was on patrol at 3:45 a.m. when he saw a thick column of smoke from a residential area north of Founders Park on Plantation Key. He began looking for the source of the smoke and found a multi story residence fully engulfed in flames at 100 Palm Lane.
He called for firefighters to respond from the Islamorada Fire Department. To the best of his ability, he checked to make sure no one was inside. No one appeared to be home. A woman who rents a cottage in the rear was located and told Deputy Sajdak who the owner was.
The deputy attempted numerous times to contact the owner, but he didn't answer his phone. Detectives spoke with him later and informed him of the fire. The Fire Marshall's Office responded and will be investigating the origins of the blaze.
April 18, 2010
Two charged with threats in Marathon
Marathon – Sheriff’s deputies and FWC Officers responded to reports of two men threatening a woman with a spear gun and a machete Saturday evening.
When Deputy David Stubblefield arrived at Boot Key Harbor at 6:15 p.m., he saw the two suspects rowing away from the location of the reported crime in a canoe, and getting on to a nearby sailboat. He spoke with several witnesses and the victim, a woman who lives on a boat in Boot Key Harbor. Witnesses and the victim all said the two suspects, 44 year old Adrian Yarbrough and 48 year old Randy Sharp threatened the victim. The two men reportedly had a spear gun which they pointed at her, and a machete they threatened her with.
The victim said she has had problems with the two men for some time and they had been harassing her. She said this time they yelled racial slurs at her and threatened to hurt her and her children while they were pointing the two weapons at her. She said she hid behind the cabin of her vessel and threw potted plants at them in defense. She said they finally left when they saw her on the phone calling 911 for assistance.
A couple who lives nearby heard the harassment and went to the victim’s boat to help. They both corroborated her story. They said they saw Sharp pull the trigger on the spear gun several times, but it didn’t fire. They said the two men threw the two weapons in the water as they fled the scene.
The two men were escorted to shore by the Coast Guard in their canoe. The canoe had numerous potted plants in it. After questioning they were arrested. On the way to jail, Deputy Stubblefield overhead them discussing the incident. Yarbrough told Sharp he was angry with him for getting him arrested. Sharp told Yarbrough not to worry because they’d thrown the weapons in the water.
Both men were charged with aggravated assault and they were booked into jail.
April 15, 2010
Dive death offshore of Islamorada
Islamorada - An Arizona woman died diving offshore of Islamorada today.
51 year old Aviva Diodato of Surprise, Arizona was with her husband, on board the dive vessel "Giant Stride", operated by Key Divers out of Bud and Mary's Marina. A group of divers was with an instructor on the Eagle wreck. According to Detective Terry Smith, the group was going under for their first dive of the day when Diodato indicated she wanted to return to the surface. The instructor helped her to the surface, then returned to the group underwater.
Diodato made it safely to the stern of the dive boat. She was removing dive gear when she began drifting away from the boat. When crew members couldn't reach her, they banged on the aluminum ladder to call the divers to the surface. Once they were all on board, the boat went after Diodato.
They found her floating on the surface, not breathing, about 15 - 20 minutes later. She was pulled onto the boat and they began CPR. She was brought to shore where she was met by paramedics from Islamorada Fire / Rescue who pronounced her dead.
An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of her death.
April 12, 2010
Father, son arrested after shooting accusations
Tavernier - Sheriff's deputies, dispatched to a shots fired call, arrested a father and a son for allegedly firing a gun at a neighbor early Sunday.
The victim and the suspects both live on Coconut Drive in Tavernier. At 6 a.m. Sunday, deputies responded to that location because of reports of gunfire. When they knocked on the door of #408, 17 year old Dylan Derook answered the door and said he and his dad, Laurence, were both at home.
Due to the nature of the call, deputies needed to enter the home to make sure everyone was all right. As Deputy Sever Hustad walked in the door, Dylan pushed him. Deputy Nicholis Whiteman was also there and grabbed Dylan, who then began fighting with Deputy Whiteman. He continued to struggle as Deputy Hustad entered the bedroom, finding the father injured and bleeding, on the bed. Laurence had an injury on his head and his leg. A loaded gun was found nearby. Dylan said his father had been in an argument with the neighbors across the street.
Deputies went to #409 to make sure everyone was all right at that location. They could see the neighbor lying on the couch, but he wouldn't respond to knocking on the door. Finally, a woman answered the door. The victim told deputies he and his wife had been at the Derook residence earlier listening to music and drinking. He said his wife went home and he stayed. At some point, the Derooks became angry with him. He said they had a gun and threatened to kill him. He said he ran from the house, but both Dylan and Laurence fired the gun at him. He said he hid in his car, and finally made it into his house.
A spent shell casing was found in the driveway of #408. Both Derooks were arrested. Dylan was charged with aggravated assault and battery on a law enforcement officer; Laurence was charged with aggravated assault. When asked how he became injured, Laurence Derook said he couldn't remember. He was treated by paramedics on scene before being taken to jail.
April 11, 2010
Two arrested for open house party
Deputies broke up a house party on Sugarloaf Key Saturday night, arresting a man and his 21 year old daughter.
The Sheriff’s Office received information earlier in the week that a party would be taking place either Friday or Saturday at 15730 Old State Road 4A on Sugarloaf Key. When they checked the area at 11 p.m. Saturday, they found cars parked along the roadway indicating a gathering of some sort was taking place.
Deputies Scott Ward, Jon Riggs and Danielle Malone walked around the property and onto the beachfront where they found a group of young people sitting on the beach. They overheard them talking about getting “free beer” at the party and about how cool it would be when they finally turned 21 years of age. When the deputies turned on their flashlights to get a better look at the group, they heard numerous voices yelling “run, it’s the police.”
An older male – later identified as the homeowner, 52 year old Mark Mayer, was standing in the carport pouring out the contents of red plastic cups. About 100 - 150 partially full and empty red plastic cups surrounded him. When asked why he was doing it, he denied knowing what the deputy was talking about and walked into the house. At the open front door, Deputy Ward confronted Mayer. Mayer’s daughter, 21 year old Erin Mayer, was there as well. In the background, inside the house, Deputy Ward could hear numerous voices saying things like, “get rid of the beer, the police are downstairs” and “hide everything.”
At that point, Deputy Ward placed Mark Mayer under arrest. He resisted being arrested, refusing to come out of the house or to put his hands behind his back. His daughter became agitated and got in the way of deputies trying to arrest her father. After repeated warnings for her to get out of the way, she was also arrested. She pushed at deputies, and pulled away from them while they were attempting to take her into custody.
Both Mark and Erin Mayer were finally handcuffed and taken into custody. As deputies were handcuffing them, they could see young people running away from the house toward the roadway. Others were jumping off of a back balcony and fleeing down the beach. Dispatchers received phone calls from neighbors about “half naked people hiding in their bushes”.
In all, more than 50 juveniles were finally corralled. Many of them admitted to drinking alcohol provided by the Mayer’s. All their parents were called to come get them. Some parents were called by juveniles themselves, who were hiding in surrounding bushes. Officers on the scene said they believe there were many more juveniles inside the house, but Mark Mayer’s wife would not allow deputies inside.
Mark Mayer was charged with resisting arrest, contributing to the delinquency of minors, tampering with evidence and holding an open house party. He complained of chest pains while being arrested, so he was first transported to the hospital to be checked out, then booked into jail. Erin Mayer’s arm was injured while she was resisting arrest; she was taken to the hospital for treatment of that injury, and was issued a notice to appear in court for resisting arrest.
April 8, 2010
Two boys charged with sexually battering other boys
Marathon - Sheriff's detectives have arrested two young boys today, charging them with sexual battery on two other boys.
13 year old Jayson and 10 year old Corey Bibb are accused of raping the two victims - age 8 and 10. The victims told detectives the abuse took place between December of 2009 and February 2010 at the home of the suspects, in Marathon.
Jayson Bib was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a child and Corey Bibb with one count of sexual battery on a child. They are both currently in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Employee of Key Largo resort charged with burglary
Key Largo - An employee at a Key Largo resort was arrested Wednesday, charged with burglarizing a room at the resort in March.
The crime took place March 18th. The suspect is 44 year old Paul Penne, who worked maintenance at Fisherman's Cove at the 104 mm of Highway U.S. One. According to investigations by Detective Jason Madnick, Penne has access codes for all the guest rooms so he could perform maintenance on them when required. On the night of the 18th, a witness says he was at the resort in the middle of the night. His work shift is during the day.
He was seen in the vicinity of one of the rooms. The resident of the room reported the following day that a large number of liquor bottles had been taken from the room.
When confronted with the evidence against him, Penne admitted to the burglary. He was charged with burglary and theft and he was booked into jail.
Two arrested after firearm incident
Marathon - Two men were arrested Wednesday night after a witness reported seeing them fire a gun out the window of their vehicle.
The witness called the Sheriff's Office at 8:40 p.m. and reported two men in a silver colored BMW firing a gun out the window of their car. He said the car was southbound from Coco Plum Road in Marathon. Deputies Leon Bourcier and Monica Young responded. They spotted the vehicle and pulled it over at 63rd Street in Marathon.
The driver, 33 year old Jeremy Briggs of Minnesota, told the deputies there was a gun in the glove compartment. An unloaded Ruger .380 was found in a holster in that location. Briggs and the passenger, 29 year old Brian Boucher of St. Petersburg, Florida both smelled strongly of alcohol. Two open cans of beer were found in the car .Boucher admitted to pointing the gun out the window of the car. He denied firing it, however.
Briggs was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. A Blood Alcohol breath test revealed alcohol levels of .23. Boucher was charged with improper exhibition of a firearm. A Blood Alcohol breath test revealed his alcohol levels at .23. Both men were booked into jail.
April 5, 2010
Key Largo man charged with sexual battery and kidnapping
Key Largo - Sheriff's detectives arrested a Key Largo man Sunday, charging him with kidnapping and raping a woman Saturday.
The 19 year old victim told detectives she and the suspect, 48 year old Heriberto Rodriguez-Medina, got into an argument and he choked her until she passed out. When she awoke, her hands and feet were restrained. She said when she began screaming, he again choked her until she passed out. When she awoke the second time, she said he raped her. He then allegedly loaded her into a car and drove her to Florida City. She said he threatened to kill himself, and had a gun with them in the car. She said he parked in a wooded area and got drunk; she finally convinced him to return to Key Largo where she was able to escape from him when he passed out. She called a friend for help.
The friend drove her to the hospital, and contacted the Sheriff's Office.
Following an investigation of the incident, Detective Terry Smith placed Rodriguez-Medina under arrest for kidnapping and sexual battery. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
Burglary arrest in Islamorada
Islamorada - A Seminole, Florida man was arrested after he was caught on video tape burglarizing a boat at an Islamorada resort.
A video surveillance system at La Jolla Resort caught 22 year old Francis Vainis taking items off of a boat belonging to a guest at the resort. The crime was reported to the Sheriff's Office Thursday. Vainis was located the following night at another hotel in the area. He was confronted with the evidence against him and he admitted to committing the crime. He was also found to be in possession of marijuana.
The owner of the boat, who had already checked out and left the Keys, was contacted at his home in Naples. He expressed his desire to press charges. The stolen items - a pair of pliers and a fish scale - were recovered and returned to the owner. Vainis was charged with burglary, theft and possession of marijuana and he was booked into jail.
Miami man dies after fall from bridge
Cudjoe Key - A 64 year old Miami man died after falling from the Kemp Channel Bridge Sunday. He was fishing from the bridge, with a group of friends.
According to witnesses, including several friends visiting the area with the victim, Vandabilt Neely fell from the top of the bridge while he was fishing shortly after midnight. Neely's body was found a short time later by Deputies Christopher Rhinhart and Joshua Pool about a quarter of a mile south of the bridge on the gulf side, about 15 feet from shore. One of his three friends said he heard a splash, then heard another friend yell that Neely had fallen in the water. One friend jumped in after him, but was unable to hold onto him.
Neely's body was turned over to the Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
April 1, 2010
Summerland Key teen charged with vehicle burglaries
Summerland Key – A Summerland Key teen has been charged with two vehicle burglaries and faces more charges as well.
18 year old Kenneth Jenison was coming out from under a house on North Airport Drive at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday when a neighbor spotted him. She confronted him and he threatened her. She appealed to a passing jogger for help and he fled, jumping over a fence at a home on East shore Drive. She called the Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy Freddy Rodriguez arrived and recognized her description as Jenison, who has a history of burglary and theft. He interviewed Jenison, who lives at the house on East Shore Drive where the witness saw the suspect flee to. Jenison reportedly appeared to be under the influence of some kind of drug and claimed he was just looking at a plane under the house.
During the course of the day, five victims reported a total of seven vehicles burglarized in the area where Jenison lives, on Ocean Drive, East Shore Drive and West Shore Drive. They reported items including cash, GPS devices, MP3 players, sunglasses and other valuables stolen. Detective Diane Mimosa interviewed Jenison in connection with the reported crimes. He admitted to the vehicle burglaries and turned over a large amount of the property he is accused of stealing from the vehicles.
He was charged with two counts of vehicle burglary and two counts of theft. More charges are pending. Jenison is currently being held in the Monroe County Detention Center.