Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

November 30, 2011

Missing woman home safe

The elderly woman reported missing November 28th from her Tavernier home has been located, according to her family.

Deputies spoke with her family today and confirmed she was home and safe. She told them she left driving the family car, a 2005 Pacifica; she told them she got a flat tire a short time after leaving and called her husband to pick her up.

November 27, 2011

Marathon man arrested for hatchet attack

Marathon – A Marathon man is in jail, charged with cutting another man with a hatchet.

Witnesses say 32 year old Maykel Borges had been coming to their trailer in Trailerama Trailer Park on 15th Street all day Friday asking for beer. They said they gave him several beers during the course of the day, but when they told him the last time to go away and leave them alone, he left, then returned with a hatchet. He reportedly began arguing with people at the trailer, then swung the hatchet at one man, cutting him on the side with it. Borges then dropped the weapon and left the scene.

When deputies arrived just after 6 p.m., they recovered the hatchet and found Borges at his own trailer, not far away. He was arrested, charged with aggravated assault and aggravated battery, and he was booked into jail. The victim was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital for treatment of a small cut on his side.

Marathon man charged with using stolen credit card

Marathon – A Marathon man who tried to use a stolen credit card at the Winn Dixie store in Marathon Saturday afternoon was arrested.

The victim told deputies he’d been at Sombrero Beach that afternoon and his vehicle was burglarized. He said he had several credit cards stolen. He said he reported the cards stolen to the credit card company. He was told they had been used several places in town prior to him reporting them stolen.

According to reports by Deputy Chuck Kellenberger, one of the places the cards were used was Winn Dixie. At that store, suspect 36 year old Jose Ortiz and two women  tried to purchase over $700.00 worth of merchandise. Ortiz swiped the card and it was declined; as he was attempting to pay, the women took the shopping cart full of items out to the parking lot. Once the card was declined, the cashier and another employee went out to the parking lot to retrieve the merchandise.

They got most of the items back from the suspect and the two women with him, although several items remain missing. They then called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident, giving deputies a description of the truck the suspect was driving.

Deputies found the truck at Publix in Marathon a short time later. Ortiz and the two women were in the truck. Ortiz denied using a stolen card, instead saying he tried to use two of his own cards which were declined. One of the women admitted they had all  been at Sombrero beach that afternoon, although when Ortiz was questioned, he said they’d all been on the boat that afternoon.

No credit cards were recovered, but Ortiz was positively identified by the Winn Dixie cashier as the man who used the stolen credit cards. Ortiz was arrested, charged with theft and fraudulent use of a credit card and he was booked into jail.

November 24, 2011

Marathon man charged with fleeing from deputies, hit and run accident

Marathon – A Marathon man is under arrest after he fled from deputies early Wednesday, hitting a parked car in the process.

Deputy Nicholas Abroe was northbound on U.S. One at 62nd Street at 4 a.m. when he saw 37 year old Jack Carlson and a woman getting into a black Chevrolet Corvette in the parking lot of Dion’s Quik Mart. The car’s top was down as Carlson pulled onto the highway behind the deputy.

Deputy Abroe pulled off the roadway and saw Carlson accelerate past him, well in excess of the 45 mile per hour speed limit. The deputy drove back onto the highway and turned on his lights and siren to pull the car over.

Instead of stopping, Carlson sped up reaching speeds of at least 100 miles per hour. He ran a red light turning onto at 107th street, sideswiping a parked gray Chevrolet Trailblazer.

He continued fleeing and Deputy Abroe lost sight of the vehicle, which was found abandoned at the rear of Big Time Bait and Tackle, a shop owned by Carlson.

A woman fitting the description of the one in the car with Carlson was found sitting on a bench nearby. She said Carlson had parked the car and had run down the street.

Several hours later, Carlson showed up at the Marathon Substation and wanted to report his car stolen. After an interview with detectives, he was placed under arrest. He was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, hit and run and making a false report of a crime. His vehicle was seized for possible forfeiture.

November 22, 2011

Naples man arrested for shooting kitten

Tavernier – A 68 year old Naples man was arrested Monday night, charged with shooting and killing a kitten with an Airsoft rifle.

A witness staying at Ocean Pointe Condos saw the incident at about 7 p.m. He said he was watching a mother cat and two kittens about four to five weeks old below his balcony when he heard a “pop” then saw one black and white kitten begin shaking and twitching, then saw it die. He said he looked to the side and saw the barrel of some sort of gun protruding over the edge of a nearby balcony. He called security, and the Sheriff’s Office was notified.

Deputies Tony Conde and James Warino confronted the man who was staying in the condo where the gun was seen. At first, 68 year old Kenneth Ellis denied shooting the cat. After further questioning, he finally admitted to shooting the animal. The Airsoft rifle with a scope attached was found in the condo as well.

Ellis was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and he was taken to jail.

Man arrested for drugs; found to have counterfeit money

Key West - Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division and the City of Key West Narcotics Unit completed a two month investigation Monday into the drug related activities of 39 year old Calvin Eugene Lee  of Key West.
 
Detectives had an outstanding warrant for Lee for trafficking in cocaine; the warrant was a result of the ongoing investigation into his activities dealing in illegal drugs. On Monday morning, they spotted him driving a 2004 Nissan Titan on North Roosevelt Boulevard. As a marked Key West Police vehicle attempted to pull him over, he fled, refusing to stop. As officers followed Lee, they saw him throwing white powder out of the vehicle. He finally stopped in the vicinity of George Allen Apartments on 1st Street, where he lives. He was taken into custody. Detectives located white powder over all over the inside of the vehicle. This white powder field-tested positive for cocaine.

After arresting Lee detectives went to the apartment where Lee was staying in George Allen Apartments, apartment F5. Detectives made contact with  60 year old Wanda Lee who gave detectives consent to search her home. Their detectives located 7 grams of cocaine pre packaged for sale, and a cocaine press with residue. Detectives also located $2,600.00 in hundred dollar bills. Examination of the money revealed all the bills had identical serial numbers identifying the bills as counterfeit. The money will be turned over to the Secret Service for further investigation and possible prosecution.

Lee was charged with fleeing and eluding police, possession of cocaine within 1000 feet of public housing, tampering with evidence, and with an outstanding warrant for trafficking in cocaine and use of a two way communication device to facilitate a felony. He was booked into jail.

Marathon man charged with taxi driver robbery

Marathon – A 19 year old Marathon man was arrested Monday, charged with robbing a taxi driver at gunpoint in the early morning hours of November 16th.

Detectives say Keith White called for a taxi to pick him and a friend up from JJ’s Doghouse at 3:15 a.m. Video from the bar showed the two men getting into the taxi. The taxi driver was able to provide detectives with the cell phone number White called him from as well.

The driver told detectives he dropped the friend off; White then instructed him to drive to a home on 109th Street in Marathon. When the driver pulled into the driveway, White pulled a gun, put it to his head and demanded his money, which he handed over.

The cell phone used to call the taxi was registered to White; detectives were able to identify White’s friend from the video. When they called him in and questioned him, he told them he didn’t know White’s name and hadn’t known him for long. He was able to identify White from a photo line-up. White has many distinctive tattoos, including a cross tattooed on his face.

A warrant was obtained for White’s arrest and he was picked up on Monday. He was booked into jail on robbery charges.

Two charged with wrung, undersized lobster

Craig Key – A deputy on patrol at the Channel Two Bridge Monday morning arrested two men for possessing short lobster, and illegally wrung lobster tails.

Deputy Sydney Whitehouse saw the two men snorkeling near the south end of the bridge at 8:30 a.m. When he asked them to exit the water, they both dropped their spear guns and something else he could not see well into the water.

The deputy told the two men to retrieve what they dropped; they got their spear guns, but nothing else. Deputy Whitehouse could see what looked like wrung lobster tails in the water, so he called for assistance and Marine Deputy Mike Cofield responded by water on his patrol boat. Deputy Cofield went into the water and retrieved six wrung lobster tails, one of which was obviously illegally small.

The two men were identified as 34 year old Dixan Diaz Torres of Cape Coral, Florida and 24 year old Yasmany Quesada Montero of Cutler Bay, Florida. They were both issued citations for possession of wrung lobster tails, possession of an undersized lobster tail, spear fishing in an area which does not allow it, having no measuring device and displaying no dive flag. They were booked into jail.

November 20, 2011

Two Islamorada restaurants report dry cleaning scam

Islamorada – Two Islamorada restaurant managers say their employees were scammed by a man asking for reimbursement of a dry cleaning bill.

According to reports by Deputy Todd Wyatt, a man called the Green Turtle Restaurant Thursday. He said he and his wife were leaving town and he would be stopping by to be reimbursed for a dry cleaning bill. He said he and his wife dined there and a beverage was spilled on his wife’s cashmere sweater. A short time later he stopped and presented a $60.00 dry cleaning bill. He said one of the managers – he even used the manager’s name – had approved the reimbursement. He was given the $60.00 and he left. Later, it was discovered the manager whose name he used did not approve such a reimbursement.

The same thing took place on Saturday at Pierre’s Restaurant. A man fitting the same description came in at 3 p.m. and presented a dry cleaning bill for $60.00 saying a restaurant manager – again he used the manager’s name – approved reimbursement of the bill.

The suspect is described as possibly Hispanic, five foot 7 inches tall with a shaved head and he is clean shaven. He was last seen wearing a white button down shirt and khaki pants.

The Sheriff’s Office would just like to make the Florida Keys business community aware of this scam. If you or your business has been the victim of a similar incident please contact the Sheriff’s Office to report it.

November 17, 2011

Punta Gorda man dies while on dive trip

Key West – A Punta Gorda, Florida man died while on a dive trip offshore of Key West Wednesday.

65 year old Ronald Kennedy was on a dive trip on the dive boat “Phoenix” with his 29 year old son, Graham. They had been diving in  about 25 feet of water for about 25  minutes. They had reportedly completed their dive just after 3 p.m. and were hanging on to the tow line, removing their dive gear when Kennedy suddenly slumped over. He had stopped breathing. His son called for assistance from others on the boat.

He was brought on board the boat and CPR was performed as the boat began returning to shore. The Coast Guard was notified and met the vessel, bringing the body into the Coast Guard station in Key West.

Kennedy was transported to Lower Keys Hospital where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Deputy finds man with fake gun and ski mask

Key Largo – A deputy on routine patrol spotted a truck towing a trailer in the early morning hours Monday. The driver was arrested after he was found to have a suspended license, as well as suspicious items with him, and no reasonable explanation about why he was there or what he was doing.

52 year old Scott Woolsoncroft had no valid driver’s license when he was checked out by Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe at 12:45 a.m. His Tennessee license was revoked. Later checks into his history revealed he was a criminal offender in multiple states, including Colorado, New York, Nevada and Florida with charges including burglary, fraud and DUI.

Deputy O’Keefe noticed the orange truck pulling a U-Haul trailer at Ocean Bay Drive and Bahama Avenue. The truck pulled to the side of the road, so the deputy pulled up behind it. As the deputy spoke with Woolsoncroft, asking for identification, he also asked what Woolsoncroft was doing in the area. Woolsoncroft could  produce no valid driver’s license and said he was going to see a friend. He could not name the friend, however, nor could he say where the friend lived.

Woolsoncroft gave the deputy permission to search himself and his truck. Sgt. Jason Madnick arrived as back up officer.

In the truck, Deputy O’Keefe found a plastic toy handgun hidden underneath the dashboard; the orange tip had been removed. A black face mask was also found in a bag in the bed of the truck, along with a hatchet and a credit card in a woman’s name.

Woolsoncroft told the deputy the fake gun and mask belonged to “a friend”. He said the friend had used the items to commit robberies in the Nashville area. He said the card belonged to an ex-girlfriend who’d given it to him to purchase gasoline.

Woolsoncroft was arrested and charged with driving with his license suspended and loitering and prowling. Investigations into his activities are continuing.

Arrests lead to foot chase in Key Largo

Key Largo - A report of a suspicious vehicle in a residential neighborhood led to the arrest of two men, one for warrants and one for possessing a weapon, and for fleeing from deputies.

Deputy Sever Hustad responded to the end of Bonefish Avenue at 7:20 a.m. and found the vehicle with three men sleeping inside. He recognized two of the men from past encounters as 24 year old Francis Mercede and 21 year old Mathew Berry, both of Tavernier. A third man, asleep in the back, was 20 year old Taylor Wardlow of Key West. Deputy Kyle Page responded to the scene as a backup officer.

Berry had brass knuckles on his lap. He is a convicted felon, making his possession of the weapon criminal. A check on Wardlow revealed two outstanding warrants for failure to appear; one has a bond set at $300,000.00 for failing to comply with the terms of drug court. Both men were placed under arrest. Mercede was not arrested.

The men were placed in handcuffs. As the deputies were processing the arrest, Berry managed to slip a hand out of his handcuffs, unknown to the officers. They allowed Mercede to say goodbye to his friends; as he was doing this, Berry suddenly bolted, running up Bonefish Avenue. Deputy Page ran after him. Berry attempted to escape by jumping into the water in Adam’s Cut and swimming away; detectives working in the area responded to that location in a boat, however. Berry was finally forced to come to shore and was taken back into custody.

Berry was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, escape and resisting arrest. He and Wardlow were both booked into jail.

November 16, 2011

Cab driver robbed at gun point

Marathon – A Marathon cab driver was robbed at gun point this morning by a man he’d picked up as a fare.

The driver, who works for On Time Taxi, pulled up to Deputy Christian Galls’ patrol vehicle, parked in the parking lot of K-Mart in Marathon at 3:15 a.m. Deputy Galls said the driver appeared to be shaken and nervous. He told the deputy he’d just been robbed at gun point on 109th Street.

He said he picked up two men at JJ’s Doghouse. He let one of the men out of the cab. The other man directed him to drive to the end of 109th Street, where he had the driver pull into a driveway. The suspect the pulled a gun, held it to the driver’s head and told him to hand over his money. After the driver complied, the suspect exited the car and left the area on foot.

The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’6” tall in his 20s. He was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. If a caller wishes to remain anonymous, he or she can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If the tip results in an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers Hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

November 15, 2011

Three arrested on drug charges

Marathon – The smell of marijuana emanating from a car at a Marathon convenience store led to three drug arrests Monday.

Deputies Nicholis Whiteman and Christian Galls were walking in to a convenience store near 15th Street in Marathon at 7:30 p.m. when they smelled marijuana coming from a silver colored sport utility vehicle. Two people were in the backseat of the vehicle; two others were in the store.

The deputies approached the vehicle and asked the occupants about the smell. They admitted to smoking marijuana as the were driving, but said they discarded the remains of the marijuana cigarette before stopping at the store. The two people in the store were asked to come outside and they, too, admitted to smoking marijuana. All four denied any more drugs were in the vehicle. A plastic bag of marijuana was found on the ground, at the feet of one of the men from inside the store.

Deputy Danielle Malone and her dog, Tracer responded to the store. The dog was walked around the vehicle and alerted on it, indicating the presence of drugs inside. A search revealed a marijuana “blunt” made by wrapping marijuana with a cigar wrapper. It was found on the floorboards in back; a grinder was also found, and, wrapped in a pair of shorts in the front deputies found 18 grams of powdered cocaine which the front seat passenger said belonged to him. He also had a large amount of cash in his possession.

Three of the four in the car were arrested. 28 year old Reza Adili of Southwest Ranches, Florida was charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with an outstanding warrant from Broward County for violation of probation. 29 year old Christopher Bogdan of Hollywood, Florida was charged with possession of marijuana and 29 year old James Lixie of Cooper City, Florida was charged with possession of marijuana and tampering with evidence. $4,644.00 in cash was seized for possible forfeiture. All three were booked into jail.

November 14, 2011

Stock Island man charged with domestic battery, robbery

A Stock Island man has been charged with domestic battery and robbery following an incident Sunday in the early morning hours.

Deputy John Gabay and Sgt. Mark Maison responded to an apartment on 7th Avenue at 1:45 a.m. Sunday. When they arrived, they met with the two female victims who said the suspect, 35 year old Lemuel Roberts, had attacked them. One victim is the girlfriend of Roberts; she said she told him he had to move out of their apartment because she was tired of supporting him. She said he came to the door of the apartment at 8 p.m. Saturday and began banging on it. It was locked, so he broke down the door, damaging the frame. He entered and first attacked her, demanding money. When he realized she didn’t have any, he went into the bedroom and attacked her friend. He ripped her pants pocket and grabbed $350.00 cash from the pocket. He then pushed both women into the bathroom and left the residence.

On Sunday evening, Deputy Gabay found Roberts at the same residence talking with the victim. He was placed under arrest, charged with domestic battery, robbery and grand theft and he was booked into jail.

Miramar, Florida man charged with reckless driving

A man from Miramar, Florida was arrested Saturday morning, charged with reckless driving.

Deputy Bradford Colen was running radar near the north end of the Long Key Bridge when 20 year old Bryce Gomez passed him southbound on his motorcycle, traveling 95 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone.  Deputy Colen pulled out and attempted to stop Gomez, but Gomez failed to stop despite the fact that the deputy was right behind him with his lights and siren active.

As they traveled across the bridge, Gomez passed several vehicles failing to stop for the deputy. Finally, Gomez pulled over. He told Deputy Colen he couldn’t hear the siren because his exhaust was too loud; he said he couldn’t see the lights on the patrol car because he had no rear view mirrors on the bike. Additionally, Gomez was not wearing a helmet, although he was under the age of 21 and thus required to wear one. He was also unable to produce insurance because he had none.

Gomez was arrested; he was charged with reckless driving and was cited for speeding as well. He was booked into jail.

Stock Island man charged with two burglaries

Stock Island – A Stock Island man was charged with two residential burglaries after he was caught on video at both locations committing the crimes.

On October 14th, Deputy Todd Jones responded to a burglary at a trailer park on Maloney Avenue. The victim said she left her home to pick her daughter up from school; when she returned, she found her trailer had been burglarized. The suspect pried open the back door and took a laptop computer, jewelry, a video camera and also took some ham and cheese from the refrigerator.

On October 21st, Deputy Joseph Cortner responded to another burglary at a trailer in the same trailer park. The victim said she left at 10:30 in the morning. When she returned later that afternoon, she found a back window open. A gold bracelet was missing from inside.

In both instances, the burglaries were caught on surveillance video. Detective Donald Catala was assigned to investigate and identified the suspect tin both videos as 36 year old Oscar Jimeranez Madariago. Warrants were issued for his arrest and on November 12th, Deputy John Gabay and Sgt. Mark Maison received a tip that he was on a boat docked on Front Street. They found him there and arrested him. He was booked into jail on two warrants for burglary with a total bond set at $70,000.00.

November 8, 2011

Baby cut with knife in fight over bread

Marathon – A baby was cut with a knife as one woman attacked another in a fight over two slices of bread.

Deputies responded to an apartment on 23rd Street at 7:20 p.m. Monday to reports a baby had been injured with a  knife during a fight. The baby had a minor injury on her head and was treated on the scene by paramedics.

Multiple witnesses to the incident told Deputy Anthony O’Dea the suspect was 18 year old Kenneshia Thurman, their next door neighbor. She was no longer on the scene and was found at a convenience store nearby and was taken into custody by Deputy Nicholas Abroe.

According to the witnesses, Thurman knocked on the door of the apartment and asked for two slices of bread. When 26 year old Justin Rodgers, who lives in the apartment, and 29 year old Desanta Carey of Key West refused to give her the bread, she  became angry. They tried to close the apartment door, but at first she held it open. Eventually, they were able to close the door leaving the suspect outside.

Thurman reportedly walked back to her apartment and got a knife. She returned to Rodgers apartment, forcing her way in and attempting to stab Carey with the knife. Carey was holding her two month old child at the time and Thurman struck the child in the head with the knife instead of stabbing Carey with it, causing a small cut to the child’s forehead.

Several witnesses were in the apartment at the time and corroborated the victim’s stories. In addition, Thurman admitted to Deputy Abroe that she accidentally cut the child while trying to stab Carey.

Thurman was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, burglary and violation of probation. She was booked into jail.

Man arrested for holding woman against her will

Islamorada – An Islamorada man was arrested early Monday for holding his girlfriend against her will and not allowing her to call for help.

The 47 year old victim told Deputy Patricia Garcia she and 47 year old Randall Weathers are “”on again, off again boyfriend/girlfriend”. She said she invited him over Sunday to stay the night at her residence on South Coconut Palm Boulevard in Islamorada. She said at some point she went to sleep and was awakened when he turned on the light and began to accuse her of seeing other men.

She told Deputy Garcia pushed her down, choked her and, when she tried to call 911 he took both her cell phone and car keys and hid them from her. She said she tried to leave, but he prevented her from leaving. At one point, she was able to find her cell phone and get out of the house. She sent a short text on her cell phone to a male friend. The text just said “Help”.

The friend, who lives nearby, drove to her house and got her. She then called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident, at about 5 a.m.

Weathers was found a short time later at his residence at the 82 mile marker of Old Highway in Islamorada. He was arrested and charged with battery, false imprisonment and obstruction and he was booked into jail.

November 7, 2011

Possible gas leak leads to evacuations

Stock Island – A report of a possible gas leak led to the evacuation of apartments near the intersection of 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street on Stock Island at 3 p.m. today.

The Monroe County Fire Department is on the scene directing the response to the situation. An unknown number of residents of an apartment building in that location were evacuated. The Sheriff’s Office is assisting with crowd control and traffic. Gas and electric to the building was shut off as a precaution, and the gas company and electric utility are on the scene. The Fire Marshall’s Office is investigating. As of 6:30 p.m. residents were still not being allowed back into the area.

For details about the gas leak, and the investigation, please contact the Fire Department and the Fire Marshall’s Office.

Man arrested for holding wife against her will

Key Largo – A  Key Largo man is under arrest, charged with holding his wife against her will and with keeping her from calling law enforcement when she wanted to.

Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe responded to Jean La Fitte Drive in Key Largo at 9 p.m. Sunday after the 44 year old victim called to report the domestic dispute with her husband, 50 year old Richard Holt. She told the deputy she and her husband are getting a divorce, but still live in their home together with their three children, aged 14, 15 and 17. She said Sunday night the two of them began arguing.

She said she threatened to call law enforcement during the argument. In response, her husband took her cell phone and stopped her from using he house phone. When she tried to leave the house, he locked the door and would not let her out. When she finally got out of the house and headed for her car, she said he stopped her from driving away, first by grabbing her and holding her on the ground, then by standing in front of the car so she could not leave. At one point, she said he involved the children in the argument, asking them to tell her not to call law enforcement.

Finally, she said she was able to go to a neighbor’s house and call the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy O’Keefe arrested Holt, charging him with domestic battery, false imprisonment and tampering with a witness. He was booked into jail.

Man attempts to rob Burger King on Stock Island

Stock Island – Deputies responded to an attempted robbery on Stock Island Sunday night.

According to the manager and an employee who were both at the restaurant, a man walked in at 8:30 p.m. He was wearing shorts, no shirt and had some kind of t-shirt wrapped around his head. On his left hand, he had a brown sock and he was carrying a plastic bag.

The manager approached the man, who was at the counter. The man pointed his sock covered hand at the manager and told him he had a gun; he told the manager to hand over the money in the register, then handed the plastic bag to him.

The manager told the man he would have to get the key to the register and he walked away. At that point, the man fled from the restaurant, stumbling and knocking over a display in the process.

According to witnesses and responding deputies who reviewed video from the store’s surveillance system, the suspect is between 35 and 45 years old; he is about 5’8 inches to 6 feet tall with a stocky build. He has blue eyes, was wearing khaki shorts and sneakers.

A search of the area around Burger King did not turn up anyone resembling the suspect. The case will be investigated by Sheriff’s detectives.

November 5, 2011

Vessel, stolen from Key Largo, tied to man’s death and Texas murder

Sheriff’s detectives are working together with police from Houston, Texas and with the U.S. Coast Guard on a case involving a stolen vessel from Key Largo and a suspect wanted for  murder in Houston who committed suicide while trying to flee to Cuba.

On Friday afternoon, a family from Bonito Lane in Key Largo called the Sheriff’s Office to report their 21 foot Mako stolen from behind their house. A friend of the family, 41 year old Noel Sosa of Houston Texas, had left his van at their house. In the van was a note. It said he was sorry for taking the vessel, but he had to get away because he had a “death warrant”.

Upon checking Sosa’s name, Deputy Matt Koval discovered a homicide warrant from Houston, Texas for Sosa. The warrant had been issued in late October. The friends told deputies  they thought Sosa was probably trying to flee to Cuba. A neighbor reported hearing a vessel engine starting around 1 a.m. Friday; he said he thought the neighbors might be going fishing.

The van left at the Bonito Lane house belonged to Sosa’s sister who lives in Kissimmee, Florida. Further investigation revealed she had loaned him the van two weeks ago.

A notice to be on the lookout for the vessel was issued to local police agencies, and to the United States Coast Guard.

Friday afternoon, the Coast Guard reported locating the vessel and the suspect, broken down in international waters. As they approached the vessel, Sosa reportedly shot himself in the chest, and was found to be deceased once they boarded the vessel. A .40 caliber Berretta was recovered and was believed to be the gun used by Sosa to kill himself.

The vessel and Sosa’s body were both brought back to the Florida Keys. Detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit are working with the Coast Guard and with Houston Police in the investigation. Sosa’s body is currently in the custody of the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

November 4, 2011

Kissimmee man arrested for fleeing deputies

A Kissimmee man is under arrest today, charged with fleeing from deputies and driving his car into the water off of Big Coppitt Key.

28 year old Steven Louis was southbound at the 6 mile marker of Highway U.S. One when Traffic Enforcement Deputy John McGee spotted him speeding at 72 miles  per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. He attempted to stop the green four door vehicle near Key Haven Road, but Louis refused to stop.

Suddenly he did a U-turn at the intersection of Cross Street on Stock Island, almost running another vehicle off the road. As Louis was fleeing, Deputy McGee saw him talking on a cell phone and eating something. Louis accelerated northbound at a high rate of speed, running a red light at MacDonald Avenue. At speeds of 80 to 100 miles per hour, Louis fled north. Deputy McGee radioed ahead for help from road patrol officers.

Louis continued to flee, then turned abruptly left onto Palmetto Drive on Big Coppitt Key. He drove to the end of the road, where he ran through a closed gate, then down a private boat ramp and into the water.

Deputy McGee, waiting for backup officers to arrive for safety reasons, watched as the car began to sink. Louis opened the car door and climbed onto the roof of the vehicle. As he sat on the roof, he began throwing up a large amount of a white pasty substance. When backup officers arrived, they threw Louis a rescue disc to help him to shore. He had a difficult time catching the disc and appeared to be impaired by some unknown substance.

An officer on scene had a personal boat located not far away. He was able to respond in his boat and rescued the suspect from the car’s roof. Louis was transported to shore where he was taken by paramedics to Lower Keys Hospital.

A wrecker was called to the scene to remove the vehicle from the water. Louis has been charged with fleeing and eluding police, driving with his license suspended and criminal mischief.

Further information on second plane crash

Key West – The pilot and co-pilot of a twin engine jet which crashed at the Key West airport Thursday told investigators the plane’s brakes failed upon landing.

Their story is similar to that told by the pilot and co-pilot of a plane that crashed in Key West on Monday night.

Pilot Jose Tomas Batista, 55 of Hollywood Florida, and Co-Pilot Frederico Andres Machado, 43 of Fort Lauderdale said they were en route from Fort Lauderdale and the flight was going well until them attempted to apply the brakes upon landing in Key West and nothing happened.

The FAA and the NTSB were both on the scene Thursday and will be the agencies assigned to investigate the cause of the crash. All three passengers – Paula Carriero, of Fort Lauderdale,  Fred Davis of Toms River, New Jersey and William Daughenbaugh of Linville, New Jersey – walked away from the crash. There were no injuries.

November 3, 2011

Man found dead in the water at Stock Island marina

A Vero Beach man was found floating in the water at a marina off of Front Street, Stock Island today. His death does not appear to involve any type of foul play, according to detectives.

50 year old John Windhaus was last seen Wednesday night at the Hogfish Restaurant. He was in the Florida Keys on board an 80 foot research vessel called “Thunderforce”. The vessel had docked behind Fishbusterz fish house for a couple of days; they were on their way home to Fort Pierce, but stopped due to weather conditions.

Crew members told Detective Manny Cuervo Windhaus went to Hogfish for dinner, then stayed to play pool and have a few drinks. The captain told Detective Cuervo he went to check on Windhaus at 9:30 p.m. and encouraged him to return to the boat. At 11 p.m., when the crew was getting ready to go to sleep, he still had not returned.

At 8 a.m., a crew member went on deck and looked into the water. He saw Windhaus floating face up, dead, between the steel hulled boat and the concrete dock. Detective Cuervo said it appears he may have fallen in while attempting to climb on board the vessel. An initial inspection of his body did not reveal any signs of foul play. The Medical Examiner will be doing an autopsy to determine the cause of his death.

Plane crash lands at Key West Airport

At 12:15 p.m. a twin engine Cessna Citation 550 crash landed at the end of the runway at Key West Airport. There were five people on board and there were no injuries involved in the incident. The runway is still closed, but is expected to open shortly.

The FAA and the NTSB were already at the airport investigating the crash earlier this week, and were able to respond quickly to the scene. They will be looking into the circumstances involved.

Restaurant Employee charged with embezzling

Key West – A Key West man has been charged with embezzling a large amount of money from the Conch Flyer Restaurant at the Key West Airport.

On September 26th, the owner of the restaurant called the Sheriff’s Office to report he suspected one of his employees had been stealing money from him since January of 2010. The case was assigned to Detective Donald Catala to investigate.

Examination of the restaurant’s records showed over $165,000.00 missing during that time period. The bookkeeper for the restaurant began to notice the discrepancies in restaurant deposits when the company began using a new computer program to track earnings and expenses, in July. According to the owner, only three people besides himself has keys to the Conch Flyer office and, thus, access to the cash deposits. The bookkeeper and her husband who have both worked for the company since 1994 and 42 year old David Imbaro, who worked there since November of 2009.

In a detailed examination of the monthly earnings and expenses, they discovered money missing consistently except during one time period – during August of 2011. On the dates that  Imbaro was on vacation, no money went missing. Further investigation by Detective Catala revealed Imbaro was arrested on drug charges in May of 2011; during the arrest by Key West Police, $40,000.00 in cash was found in a safe at his house. At the time, he claimed the money was from the sale of a  bar he owned in Miami. Investigation revealed Imbaro never owned a bar in Miami.

Imbaro was arrested Wednesday and charged with grand theft. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Bond is set at $150,000.00.

November 1, 2011

Update on plane crash at Key West airport

This morning, the FAA is on the scene. Key West airport is open for operations, but the plane remains in place pending an investigation into the circumstances of the crash.

The crash took place at 7:45 p.m.  Monday. The Gulfstream G150 aircraft was landing when, according to co-pilot Jay Luckwaldt, the pilot, James Klepper announced he had no brakes. The co-pilot said he also attempted to brake but said he had no pressure. The aircraft came to rest in a runway safety area, about 800 feet from the runway and about three feet from an airport perimeter fence. The four passengers – pilot, co-pilot and passengers Rick and Linda Hendrick of Charlotte, North Carolina, were walking away from the plane when Deputy Maureen Smith arrived on the scene, along with Monroe County Fire/Rescue.

The two passengers complained of pain; the decision was made to transport all four people to Lower Keys Hospital to be checked for injuries. A small amount of fuel spilled into an adjacent salt pond – estimates are less than 300 gallons. Containment booms were set up by the fire department until the fuel could be cleaned up.

The runway was closed for approximately an hour, but was reopened because none of the wreckage impacted the landing area.

The FAA and NTSB were notified and will be investigating.