Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin

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January 26, 2010

Inmate turns himself in

Stock Island - An inmate who failed to return from a work release detail in the early morning hours Monday turned himself in at the jail Tuesday morning.

At about 4:30 a.m., 38 year old Ryan Stamets pushed the call button at the jail's Intake and Release door on the side of the main jail building. When a corrections officer answered the call button, he said he was there to turn himself in.

He was booked into the jail on charges of escape.

Two runaway juveniles steal fire truck; are arrested

West Summerland Key - Two 17 year old boys who ran away from Camp Sawyer on West Summerland Key early Monday were caught in a stolen fire truck just hours later, as they attempted to flee the Florida Keys.

Sheriff's deputies were called to Camp Sawyer on West Summerland Key at 4 a.m. Monday. Counselors at the camp wanted to report the two boys missing. Steven Barron and Joshua Ryan are both from a school in Pennsylvania called "Outward In". They were at the camp attending a juvenile diversion program for troubled juveniles. They had gone missing from their tent at the camp. A report was taken and a notice to be on the lookout was issued for the boys.

At 8 a.m., deputies were called back to the camp. A bright red 2006 Chevrolet truck belonging to the Big Pine Key Fire Department had been stolen from the camp, where it was parked overnight. Responding Deputy David Chavka realized the likelihood that the missing boys had taken it, so they immediately issued a notice to be on the lookout for the truck.

Deputy Sever Hustad was at the 105 mile marker of the highway and the truck had just passed his location. He radioed ahead to the Florida Highway Patrol to keep an eye out for the truck. FHP pulled the truck over at the 125 mile marker of the highway, arresting the two boys for grand theft auto.

The truck, which had evidence of fresh damage on the right rear of the vehicle, was returned to the fire department.

Two charged with beating, cutting a third man

Stock Island - A fight at a Stock Island residence sent one man to the hospital and two others to jail early today.

Deputies Evan Calhoun and Caridad Bellon responded to Ocean Spray Trailer Park at 2:45 a.m. When they arrived at Lot #8, they found two men yelling, with blood on their hands and clothing, yelling in front of the residence. Assuming someone was injured, they called for an ambulance. They then found a third man - the apparent source of all the blood - in back of the house. The 32 year old victim was bleeding heavily from cuts on his face. He also had damage to his eye.

The two suspects who were in front - 20 year old Jimmy Campbell and 32 year old Timothy Rushing - admitted to attacking the victim. Witnesses confirmed their story. They said they fought with him because he was "loud and obnoxious". They said they had to use a bottle because he was "big" and was "disrespecting" their house.

Campbell and Rushing were both charged with aggravated battery and they were booked into jail. The victim had a lacerated cornea, a laceration to his left ear a contusion on his forehead and lacerations above and below his eye.

January 25, 2010

Inmate fails to return from work release

Ryan Stamets
Ryan Stamets, wanted for escape

Key West - A Monroe County jail inmate, working at a downtown restaurant in the work release program, failed to return to the jail in the early morning hours today.

38 year old Ryan Stamets was scheduled to leave his work assignment and return to the Detention Center on Stock Island at 2 a.m. When he failed to return, deputies were sent to the work establishment and to his last known address to look for him. He was not found at either location. A notice to be on the lookout for Stamets was sent to Key West Police and to Sheriff's deputies county-wide.

Stamets was arrested June 13th by Key West Police for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with his license suspended. He'd been participating in the work release program since September. He is now facing escape charges when he is found.

Anyone with information about Stamets location should contact the Sheriff's Office or contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or called in to the Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-346-TIPS.

January 19, 2010

Teen charged with distribution of Marijuana

Big Pine Key - A Big Pine teenager was arrested Monday evening, charged with distribution of Marijuana.

Deputy Peter Garcia was on routine patrol at the 30 mile marker of the highway when he spotted to teens on bicycles riding southbound. One of the bicycles was not equipped with a light. He stopped the two boys and did pat down searches of both of them.

The boy who did not have a light on his bicycle was warned about the requirement that he have one after dark. The second boy, 15 year old Richard Price, had 28 grams of marijuana in one of his pants pockets. Each gram was individually packaged in a plastic bag, as if prepared for sale.

Price was placed under arrest. Because the traffic stop was made within 1,000 feet of the Vineyard Christian School, the charge of distribution of Marijuana could have enhanced penalties attached. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after a piece of a ballpoint pen was found in his pocket which had been altered and used as a marijuana pipe.

Price was booked at the jail and was released to the custody of his father after consultation with the Department of Juvenile Justice.

January 16, 2010

Single vehicle accident sends one to Miami

Marathon - A motorcyclist crashed in front of Marathon High School just after midnight. The driver was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami by Monroe County's Trauma Star helicopter. The Florida Highway Patrol is the investigating agency on the case.

Search warrant in Marathon results in drug arrest

Grassy Key - The Sheriff's Special Investigations Division served a search warrant Friday afternoon at 317 Guava Avenue on Grassy Key.

At the residence, they found a small amount of Crack Cocaine, Ecstasy and marijuana. Also seized in the warrant was cookware for manufacturing crack cocaine. These cookware items field tested positive for cocaine.

As the warrants was executed at the home, 24 year old Deanthony James Jackson and another man arrived at the residence in a vehicle. Jackson was found to be in possession of Marijuana and Crack Cocaine and was arrested for possessing those illegal substances.

Assisting with service of the search warrant were Marathon Road Patrol deputies.

January 13, 2010

Soldier Ride comes to the Keys

The annual Soldier / Wounded Warrior ride will be coming to the Florida Keys January 15th and 16th. Riders will travel distances in Islamorada, Marathon, the Boca Chica four lane in the lower Keys and in the City of Key West and will be escorted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the Key West Police Department.

“This ride is a wonderful gift from the community to these wounded warriors,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “We are proud to be a part of it and we hope everyone in the community turns out to cheer these brave men and women who were wounded while defending our freedom,” he said.

Bike riders are expected to be riding between Coral Shores High School and Holiday Isle Resort, on the old road, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. They will only be on the highway a short distance over the Snake Creek Bridge.

They will most likely be on the Seven Mile Bridge sometime between 4 - 5 p.m. on Friday. Anticipate some traffic slow downs while they are riding the bridge.

On Saturday, they will ride from NAS Boca Chica south in the outside lane of the highway to Cow Key Bridge at the entrance to the city of Key West. This ride will start at 10:30 a.m.

From that point, their escort will be taken over by the Key West Police Department. During the entire time they are riding, they will be escorted by marked patrol cars from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and other local law enforcement agencies.

We hope members of the public will keep an eye out and will come outside and cheer the riders on.

Detectives investigate six business burglaries

Marathon - Detectives are investigating six business burglaries in the Marathon area over the past few days.

In all six cases, suspects forced their way in through a door or window and took, for the most part, cash. The break in at Key Colony Beach Realty and Rental was discovered Sunday morning; break ins at Surfside Citgo and the Shellman in Marathon were discovered on Monday morning; break ins at the Blackfin Resort, Tildens Dive Shop and Captain Pips Marina were discovered on Tuesday morning.

Crime Scene investigators were called to take fingerprints and gather evidence. Detectives have been canvassing nearby businesses to see if they can obtain any video footage of the crimes. Anyone with information about the cases should call the Sheriff's office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

January 11, 2010

Two charged with possessing canisters of Nitrous Oxide

Key Largo - Sheriff's deputies arrested an adult and a teenager in Key Largo Sunday evening after stopping their car on a report of reckless behavior.

Dispatchers received a phone call from a driver who said he was behind a truck that was behaving dangerously. He said he'd been following it from Florida City to Key Largo and had the two people in the car were throwing firecrackers out the windows.

Deputies stopped the truck at the 106 mile marker of the highway and found 22 year old James Francois of Oakland Park, Florida and 16 year old Robert Pace of Fort Lauderdale inside. They gave deputies permission to search the vehicle. Inside they found a small amount of marijuana. They also found 100 Nitrous Oxide canisters; 50 of them were used and 50 were still full. They also found a silver device used to dispense the gas. The two admitted to using the drug to get high; they said they had been using it as they were driving.

Both were placed under arrest. They were charged with inhaling dangerous chemicals; unlawful distribution of nitrous oxide; possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana. They were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

January 5, 2010

Detectives leave ransom note for marijuana; arrest suspect

note left for marijuanapot in freezer

On the left, a picture of the note left for Locasio. On the right, detectives find four pounds of marijuana, which was concealed in a freezer.

Marathon - Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations detectives employed an unusual tactic to arrest a suspect who was growing marijuana. They left a note in place of the plants asking him to call; in return for cash they offered him his plants back.

“Thanks for the grow! You want them back? Call for the price…we’ll talk,” the note read, with a phone number.

The plants were found after a tip from a citizen that marijuana plants were growing on a wooded lot off of Coco Plum Drive in Marathon. When detectives arrived, they found six large plants and confiscated them as evidence, leaving the note in their place. About ten minutes later, 48 year old Steven Alan Locasio called the number asking what he would have to do to get the plants back. He offered $200 for the safe return of the plants, which detectives agreed to.

They loaded up the plants and met Locasio at the corner of Coco Plum Drive and Avenue H. He handed over the cash and he was arrested in return.

A search warrant was obtained for Locasio’s apartment at 140 Coco Plum Drive, #2. The search turned up 20 more marijuana plants, four pounds of freshly harvested marijuana and several 80 milligram Oxycontin pills. They also seized $1,380 in cash – most likely proceeds from drug sales.

Steven Locasio and his wife, 50 year old Christine Locasio, were both charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and sale of marijuana. They were booked into jail.

January 3, 2009

Murder suspect apprehended in the Keys

Long Key - On Saturday night, acting on a tip to the Americas Most Wanted TV Show, members of the MCSO Special Operations Unit assisted the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force, Miami Dade Police Department and the Jupiter Police Department in locating fugitive Paul Michael Merhige, wanted for the Thanksgiving Day murders of his family in Jupiter, Florid. Merhige was taken into custody just before 11 p.m. at the Edgewater Lodge on Long Key.

The Merhige apprehension took place without incident and was he was transported by US Marshals to the Palm Beach County Jail. Merhige had shaved his head and changed the tags on his vehicle in an attempt to disguise his identity.

The tipster may be entitled to the $100,000 reward offered for information leading to Merhige's arrest.