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

July 30, 2013

Detectives investigate vehicle burglaries

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating eight vehicle burglaries which took place between Grassy Key and the 77.5 mile marker on Lower Matecumbe Key Monday afternoon.

Vehicles parked at the Dolphin Research Center, the Long Key Bridge and in the vicinity of Robbie’s Marina on Lower Matecumbe Key all had windows smashed out and items taken from inside. Stolen items included cell phones, tablet computers, cameras, cash, credit cards and jewelry.

Deputies conducted a traffic stop at the 90 mile marker on a suspect vehicle they had information might have been involved in the crimes. The vehicle, which had four people inside, fled from the traffic stop. Deputies pursued and one of the vehicle’s tires came off at the 91 mile marker. It turned onto Coconut Row, stopped and all four people inside jumped out and ran.

Two women from the car were found hiding nearby. One male was later found waiting at a nearby bus stop and was arrested for giving deputies a false name. The driver of the car was not found.

Items, including check books and electronic equipment, were found discarded in the same area where the suspects fled. The items were turned over to detectives to determine if they were items stolen during the vehicle burglaries.

The women were not arrested. Investigations into the case continue.

Two rescued from water after jumping from bridge

Two men who jumped from the Vaca Cut Bridge at 2:15 a.m. today were rescued by Sheriff’s Office Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra.

19 year old John Gelnaw and 20 year old Alec Ferguson of Ormond Beach jumped from the bridge for unknown reasons. Another man who was in the area called the Sheriff’s Office and said he could hear them yelling for help as they floated with the current out toward the bayside.

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra responded on his vessel and, after the two were in the water for about an hour, he was able to locate them and pull them onto his boat.

The two were checked out by rescue units and were uninjured by their escapade.

July 29, 2013

Big Pine man arrested for baseball bat attack

A 19 year old Big Pine man was arrested early today for aggravated battery after he repeatedly hit another man with a metal baseball bat.

Deputy Andrew Hudson responded to a 911 hang up call from a house on Avenue F, Big Pine Key at 11:50 p.m. Sunday. The woman who lives at the house where the call originated told the deputy she called because there was a group of people outside her house. She said she hung up because the group left the area.

As Deputy Hudson was leaving, he saw a small group of people still in the area. He stopped to speak to them. One of them said there had been a fight. He said 19 year old Craig Veitinger had been in the street with a baseball bat. He said a man named Max had fled into the woods when Deputy Hudson showed up.

Deputy Hudson attempted to find “Max” in the area with no success.

A few hours later, Deputy Hudson was at the Tom Thumb convenience store on Big Pine Key when a red Dodge Durango pulled up. A male passenger in the truck told the deputy there was an injured man, 22 year old Max Sanchez, in the vehicle. He said Sanchez had been hit several times with a baseball bat and might have a broken arm. Deputy Hudson found Sanchez laying in the back seat of the vehicle, unresponsive, He had blood on his clothing and an obviously broken arm. Sanchez was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for injuries to his body and his head. He is currently in stable condition. The others in the Durango said they found Sanchez in the bushes on Avenue F, unresponsive. They told Deputy Hudson a possible suspect was at Seahorse Campground on Big Pine Key.

Deputy Hudson went to Seahorse Campground and found a number of witnesses who said they saw Veitinger hit Sanchez repeatedly with a metal baseball bat.

Veitinger was found at his residence, the house on Avenue F where the original 911 call came from. He had a cut on his mouth and smelled strongly of alcohol. He said he’d been hit in the face by Sanchez. He said he saw a bat on the ground, but did not remember using it on Sanchez. He was taken to the hospital where he received stitches for the cut on his mouth. He was then  arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

Diver reported missing; found dead

The body of a diver who was reported missing has been found offshore of Marathon.

The 65 year old man was last seen by family members Saturday, when he left to go fishing and diving. His niece called the Sheriff’s Office this morning (Monday) at 11 a.m. to report him missing. She said he was possibly diving at the north end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

A search was conducted by the Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Coast Guard.  His body was recovered just before 2 p.m. floating about 100 yards from the Seven Mile Marina in Marathon.

No further information is currently available. Detectives are still working on the case.

Detective asks for help in stolen boat case

Sheriff’s detective assigned to investigate a stolen boat case is asking for the public’s assistance.

The boat’s owner lives in Virginia Beach. On July 8th, he parked the vessel, a 2008 38 foot Edgewater with twin 350 Yamaha engines, at his friend’s home at 2650 Manor Lane in Marathon. When he returned on July 23rd, he found the boat gone. He immediately called the Sheriff’s Office to report the missing vessel. The boat and all the equipment on board is valued at approximately $160,000.

Detective Nicholis Whiteman is the investigating detective on the case.

Anyone with information about this crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, 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.

July 25, 2013

Sexual Predator notification

The Sheriff’s Office has been notified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that a court designated Sexual Predator has registered his new address in Marathon.

Daniel Alan Campana, 45, registered his new address with FDLE as 7196 Overseas Highway in Marathon. According to a Florida Department of Corrections web site, Campana was in prison from November of 1996 until September of 2005 after being charged under Florida Statute 794.011(2)(a) “Person 18 or older commits sexual battery and/or injures sexual organs of a victim less than 12”, a capital felony crime. The DOC web site does not indicate that Campana is currently under any kind of probation or parole.

The Sheriff’s Office is required by law to notify the community when someone designated as a Sexual Predator moves into the county and registers as a resident here.

Diver dies offshore of Plantation Key

A scuba diver died today in the waters offshore of Plantation Key.

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the case. The victim, a 52 year old male from Pennsylvania, was in a private vessel with two male friends. They were in the area of Davis Reef. He and one of the friends were diving together. The victim signaled that he wanted to surface. The two of them surfaced, but as the friend was removing his dive gear he looked back and saw that the victim had slipped back under the surface.

The friend went back underwater and pulled the victim to the boat. He was unresponsive. A passing boater stopped and helped get the victim into the boat. A call was made to 911. The victim’s friends started CPR and started for shore. They brought the victim in to Tavernier Creek Marina where paramedics took over and transported him to Mariner’s Hospital.

The man was pronounced dead at Mariner’s Hospital. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. As a courtesy to the victim’s family the Sheriff’s Office is withholding his name until they can be notified of his death.

It is unknown if the three men were participating in two day sport lobster season activities.

July 24, 2013

Neighbor caught burglarizing Key Largo home

A Key Largo man was caught burglarizing a deceased neighbor’s home Tuesday morning.

The elderly owner of the home on Janet Place in Key Largo is dead and a roommate of hers who still lives in the home called the Sheriff’s Office just before 11 a.m. to report someone was inside. The roommate was inside as well. He’d locked himself in his room. He told dispatchers there were video cameras inside the home and he was monitoring the suspect’s progress as he rummaged through the house. He gave dispatcher’s a description of the suspect from the video feeds.

When Deputy Christian Galls arrived, he found 45 year old Eddy Lopez Jemot walking quickly away from the house. Lopez Jemot fit the suspect’s description so he was detained. He claimed to have permission to be in the house from the owner’s relatives, although he did not know the name of the person who gave him permission. He had three debit cards in his pocket which had the dead woman’s name on them.

The owner’s son was contacted and told Deputy Galls Lopez Jemot did not have permission to be inside the home. The suspect, who lives in a house on the same street as the victim, was arrested. He was charged with burglary and theft and he was booked into jail.

July 23, 2013

Inmate dies of apparent natural causes

An inmate in the Stock Island detention center died of apparent natural causes this morning.

The 67 year old man was arrested July 18th on drug related charges. According to detectives, he had a number of medical issues and was being routinely checked by nurses in the facility. One of the nurses did such a routine check on him at 5:50 a.m. today and he checked out with no problems. A short time later, a corrections deputy on duty in Dorm F spoke with him, asking him how he was feeling. The man said he was feeling fine.

At 6:11 a.m., the same officer noticed the man was laying on his bunk, pale and taking shallow breaths. He notified the jail medical unit. The man stopped breathing. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed and an AED unit was also used in an effort to revive him. Paramedics responded to the jail and the man was transported to Lower Keys Hospital, where he was declared dead.

Detective Manny Cuervo said there was no sign of trauma on the body, and video cameras inside the jail captured the entire incident, confirming the account of events given by the corrections deputy on duty. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of the man’s death.

Sheriff’s detectives will be working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; this partnership is routine in the event of an inmate death.

Detective Manny Cuervo is attempting to locate the man’s next of kin to notify them of his death as a courtesy to them, before releasing his name to the public.

Duck Key construction light to be closely monitored this weekend

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is expecting heavy traffic on the weekend following the Lobster mini season, particularly north bound on Highway U.S. One on July 27th and 28th.

On the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we experienced a severe traffic backup miles long due to the temporary construction light installed on U.S. One at the entrance to Duck Key. In an effort to avoid this happening again this weekend, the Sheriff’s Office will be manually controlling the intersection at the entrance to Duck Key.
As officers control the light, the main priority will be to maintain traffic flow along the highway. We anticipate this may cause a significant delay of up to 20 minutes for vehicles exiting Duck Key.

We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause, and ask that you plan ahead for these anticipated delays.

July 22, 2013

Three cited for over the limit mangrove snapper

Key Largo – Three men from Miami were cited for fishing violations early today after they were caught in possession of 73 Grey / Mangrove Snappers – well over the limit of five per person.

Sheriff’s dispatchers received information from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 2:30 a.m.  that a silver Honda Pilot was northbound in Key Largo and may be carrying a large number of Grey / Mangrove Snapper. Deputy Tony Conde stopped the car at the 104 mile marker. Deputy Diosvel Fumero backed him up, along with Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse.

Three men in the car told the deputies they had been on a “party boat” out of Marathon and had fish from the boat in two coolers in the car. They opened the coolers, showing the deputies a large number of the fish – a total of 73 in all – 58 over the limit for three people.

42 year old Shawn Francis, 24 year old Xavier Carrasquillo and 18 year old Shaquille Francis were all cited for possessing over the limit Grey / Mangrove Snappers.

July 19, 2013

Woman dies on dive trip

A woman from Merritt Island, Florida died while on a dive trip offshore of Islamorada Thursday afternoon.

54 year old Joy Meyers was on board a vessel owned by Key Dives of Islamorada. She was diving with a group of divers and a guide on Patch reef at a depth of about 23 feet when she indicated she was having some kind of trouble. The guide escorted her to the surface. Meyers got back on board the vessel around 2 p.m. and the guide returned to the water to continue with the other divers. Meyers sat down on a bench and began removing her gear. She indicated she was “feeling tired”.

A short time later, a crew member noticed she was sitting on the bench with her chin on her chest. He checked her and she was not breathing. The other divers were called back to the boat and CPR was begun on Meyers.

The boat returned to the dock, meeting paramedics at Bud and Mary’s Marina. Meyers was taken to Mariner’s Hospital where she was declared dead. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of her death.

Warrant sweep nets eight arrests, clears 26 warrants

Detectives with the Special Investigations Division wrapped up a five month narcotics investigation in Marathon, arresting eight people on 26 charges Thursday. The investigation targeted suspects selling drugs in the area of Marathon. Several more arrests are expected in connection with the investigation.

Participating in the Marathon warrant sweep was Customs and Border Protection, Drug Enforcement Administration, Marathon HIDTA and Sheriff deputies.

The following suspects were arrested:
 
Maikel Martinez-Alvarez, 32, of Marathon.
Two counts sale of cocaine, one count use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony.

Hiram  Cancel, 26, of Marathon.
Two counts purchase of cocaine, two counts sale of cocaine and one count of use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony.
 
Lazaro Hernandez, 64, of Marathon.
Four counts sale of cocaine.
 
Leonardo Perez-Serrano, 50, of Marathon.
Three counts each of sale of cocaine and use of a two way communications device to facilitate a felony.
 
Manuel Suarez, 59, of Marathon.
3 counts sale of cocaine.
 
Enrique Valdes, Sr., 57, of Marathon.
3 counts sale of cocaine.
 
Karl Lobsinger, 67, of Marathon.
Trafficking in Hydrocodone and sale of Hydrocodone.
  
Yandy Carrillo, 27, of Marathon.
Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

July 12, 2013

Note reference arson suspect and additional charges:

After consultation between the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s detectives, Stuart James Collins has been further charged with attempted second degree murder. Other charges against him include arson with great bodily injury and arson with property damage.

Update: suspect to be charged with arson

The North Carolina Man who allegedly lit a truck on fire early today, severely injuring a man inside, will be charged with two second degree felony counts of arson, according to detectives.

Stuart James Collins, 28 years old, from Jamestown, North Carolina will be charged today with arson with great bodily harm and arson with property damage. The victim in the case, 52 year old Jose Gonzales, remains in critical condition at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, suffering from second and third degree burns to 61% of his body, including on his arms, legs, back and head.

Initial investigations lead detectives to believe the two men had words in JJ’s Doghouse bar just prior to the fire, possibly arguing over a woman. Collins lit the truck on fire using a gasoline can which he overturned and lighted. The work truck, owned by Florida Paving and Trucking, had a tank of diesel fuel and a generator on it. There were several explosions resulting from the fire. Gonzales was in the cab of the truck when it burned. As firefighters and deputies arrived, they heard the explosions and saw Gonzales jump from the truck, on fire. He was severely injured. The building housing JJ’s Doghouse bar was also damaged by the fire and explosions.

Collins initially fled the scene. He eventually returned the scene of the fire and was apprehended there this afternoon.

The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit is working together with the State Fire Marshall’s Office on the investigation.

Vehicle arson fire seriously injures one

Marathon – A vehicle fire at a 107th Street bar this morning sent one person to a Miami hospital with severe burns.

Detectives and the Fire Marshalls Office will be investigating the fire, which is believed to be arson.
                       
A person from the Dog House bar called the Sheriff’s Office at 3:43 a.m. to report a truck on fire. He said he was evacuating everyone from the bar in case the fire escalated.

Deputies and firefighters responded. One man was found to have been injured in the fire. 52 year old Jose Gonzales of Homestead was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center for treatment of severe burns.

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo says it appears Gonzales was inside the cab of his work truck, possibly sleeping or resting when someone appears to have lit it on fire by tipping over a gas can and lighting the fuel.

Gonzales worked for Florida Paving and Trucking Incorporated out of Homestead. Also on the truck was a generator and a tank of diesel fuel. There were several explosions reported as the truck burned.

Investigations are continuing. The Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Fire Marshalls Office are working together on the case.

July 11, 2013

Sexual Predator notification

A man designated by the courts as a Sexual Predator was recently released from prison and told the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) he intends to reside at a Key Largo address now that he is not incarcerated.

The Sheriff’s Office is required by law to notify the community when someone designated as a Sexual Predator moves into the county and registers as a resident here. 35 year old Miguel Soto gives his new address as 516 Boyd Drive in Key Largo, according to a notice from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

A web site operated by the FDOC says Soto was arrested on a number of charges in Miami-Dade County in July of 1996, including multiple counts of burglary and sexual battery. The web site also says that he will be under community supervision on “sex offender probation” until July of 2016.

July 7, 2013

One arrested, one airlifted after fight on Stock Island

Stock Island – One man is in jail and the other was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami after a fight in the early morning hours on Stock Island.

Several witnesses saw 42 year old Charles Miller and 45 year old Jesus Rodriguez fighting at the intersection of 1st Avenue and 2nd Street at 1 a.m. During the fight, Miller reportedly knocked Rodriguez to the ground, then was seen hitting him two more times, and kicking him in the face before fleeing. A woman who witnessed the fight followed Miller, calling 911 as she watched him flee into Coral Hammock condominium complex. Another witness who said he was walking to the Tom Thumb to get a soda called 911 to say the victim was not breathing and he was attempting to do CPR.

Key West Police Officer Thomas Anglin arrived to assist with searching for the suspect. He and his K-9 partner found Miller hiding underneath one of the condos and he was ordered to come out with his hands visible, which he did.

Miller was treated at the hospital for minor injuries to his foot and the back of his head. The victim was transported to the hospital and then airlifted by Trauma Star to Ryder Trauma Center where he is in critical condition.

Miller told Detective Diane Mimosa he was walking down the street and met a woman whom he didn’t know. He said he gave her $10 to buy beer. He said she went into the store and came out without the beer. He said he asked her for his money back. He said she then ran over to Rodriguez, who was on a bike. Rodriguez then reportedly got off the bike and the two men started fighting.

Miller was booked into jail, charged with aggravated battery.

Man arrested after disturbing flight

A 50 year old Tampa man was arrested Saturday after causing a disturbance on an airplane Saturday.

Sgt. Sue Morgan was notified of an inbound Silver Airways flight on which a man was causing trouble. She met the flight on the Key West Airport tarmac at noon, along with several others from airport security and Customs and Border Protection.

As 50 year old Richard Calderoni was handcuffed, passengers on the flight began cheering. A number of them told the officers they were afraid on the flight because of Calderoni’s disruptive behavior.

According to the flight crew, Calderoni was asked several times to shut off his electronic equipment and refused. He was reportedly loud and used abusive language. At one point, he stretched his legs into the isle blocking the female flight attendant’s path. He told her she “must be miserable in her job” and she said when she looked at him he was rubbing his groin area as if he were masturbating.

The pilot told Sgt. Morgan he considered turning the flight around, but considered the other passengers and decided to just call ahead for law enforcement.

Calderoni was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. He was booked into jail.

July 5, 2013

Sheriff’s dispatchers and deputies handled a total of 30 phone calls Thursday from people reporting fireworks being set off in and around their neighborhoods. There were no major incidents reported that involved fireworks.

Man charged with threatening woman, strangling her dog

A Marathon man was arrested early today, charged with threatening to rape and kill a woman. He was also charged with strangling her dog. The dog is alive and, although scared, appears to be in good shape.

The victim, a homeless woman, told Deputy Greg LaRochelle she was sleeping in the produce stand in the parking lot of the Fairway Market on 39th Street at 1 a.m. when she woke up and saw a man holding her dog around the neck, strangling him. She attempted to intervene, and he hit her in the face. She said after hitting her, he threatened to rape her and kill her. She said he started strangling her dog again and she fled the area, fearing for her life.

A witness was driving by and saw the victim running away from a large black male who was chasing her, later identified as her attacker, 49 year old Albert Gardner. The victim waved him down and asked him for help. At that point, Gardner broke off the chase, fleeing up Louisa Street.

Deputy LaRochelle found Gardner on Louisa Street and detained him. After investigation into the circumstances, Gardner was arrested. He was charged with  assault, battery and animal cruelty.  The victim was treated for the bump on her head by paramedics. Sgt. Marc Maison found the dog alive, hiding underneath a card at the produce stand. The dog was whimpering, but appeared to be uninjured. He and his owner were reunited.

Two arrested after brawl at Key Largo bar

Two people went to jail after a brawl at a Key Largo bar spilled over into the parking lot.

Deputies were dispatched to the Big Chill Bar at 10:45 p.m. Thursday. When Deputy Bryan Cross arrived on the scene, approximately 50 people were gathered in the parking lot. Other deputies were on scene attempting to determine what happened.

Investigations revealed a group of people from Key Largo – a couple with their 21 year old daughter and her friend – had been eating a pizza at the bar when a couple from Miami walked up and tried to grab some of the pizza from the box. A confrontation ensued; the couple from Miami – identified as 44 year old George Burns and 43 year old Midiala Siverio Dunn – began calling the two girls fat. At some point, a fight began. Burns allegedly struck both girls, knocking one to the ground.

Burns and Dunn then reportedly left the bar and were confronted in the parking lot by the victim’s father. He and Burns began fighting. A woman in the parking lot reportedly approached Dunn, who was standing near the two fighting men, and told her to move out of the way so she didn’t get hurt. Dunn then allegedly punched her.

Several witnesses corroborated the story told by the victims. Burns and Dunn were both treated for injuries at Mariner’s Hospital and were then arrested. Burns was charged with three counts of battery. Dunn was charged with battery. They were both booked into jail.

July 3, 2013

Search warrant in Key Largo

Key Largo – Sheriff’s Special Investigations detectives served a search warrant today at a Key Largo residence. 

The warrant was served at 1103 Grand Street, Apartment A in Key Largo. Inside, detectives located 48 year old Kim Marie Gilzow and a friend. 

The search of the residence turned up  22 crack cocaine rocks, two Oxycontin pills, several baggies with cocaine residue and several crack pipes. 

Gilzow was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Businesses being targeted by fraudulent calls

The Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of a business that received a call claiming to be from a debt collector working for Florida Keys Electric Co-op. The caller threatened to have the power turned off immediately if someone didn’t pay cash owed on their electric bill.

Since the initial report, the Sheriff’s Office has learned there may be other customers of FKEC who have received such calls.

Last week, an employee of Kaiyo Grill in Islamorada received a call from a female who said her name was “Erica” claiming to be working for FKEC. She said the restaurant owed $750 on their electric bill. She told the employee they had 30 minutes to pay or the power would be shut off.

The caller told the victim she would not accept a check and gave him several other options for paying. That same day, he went to the local Winn Dixie and bought a Visa gift card for half the amount. He called her back and gave her the identifying number off the back of the card so she could access the money immediately. He told her that is all he could pay her today and would pay the rest the following day.

She instructed him to go the next day and buy a “Green Dot Pay-Pal” card for the remainder of the amount. He did that, and then called her and gave the access information for that card as well.

After paying the woman the total amount she said was owed, the victim then called FKEC to check on the situation. He was informed FKEC does not make bill collections in this manner. Calls to the number he had for “Erica”  are now going unanswered.

Investigations are continuing. Anyone who has received similar calls should contact the Sheriff’s Office.