Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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


February 27, 2002

Car bomb severely injures Marathon woman

Marathon – Sheriff’s detectives are investigating an explosion in a car which severely injured a 51 year old Marathon woman today (Wednesday).

51 year old Evon Leach was on her way to work at Marathon Manor, sitting in the southbound turn lane of U.S. One preparing to turn left onto Sombrero Beach road at 8:45 a.m. when her gray Saturn exploded. She was severely injured in the blast, which also caused damage to the roadway underneath her car, and to a truck sitting next to her car. There were no other injuries from the explosion.

Leach was transported to Fisherman’s Hospital, then airlifted by the Sheriff’s Office Trauma Star helicopter to the Ryder Trauma Center at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad was dispatched to the scene and, after exhaustive examination of the vehicle, determined there were no more explosive devices in it, other than the one which caused the initial blast. The nature of that device is not being released. A special team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation was requested. The FBI Post Blast Team specializes in the collection of evidence from the scene of such an explosion.

Traffic has been at a virtual dead stop due to the investigation and safety concerns, although as of 3 p.m., deputies were beginning to allow some cars through using a nearby bike path and adjacent parking lots as detours. The line of traffic at one point stretched for miles in either direction.

Detectives are investigating possible motives behind the attack, but do not want to disclose any of that information pending the outcome of the investigation. They do say their investigation does not indicate the attack was related to terrorism in any fashion, and that it appears the victim was a specific target, and the crime was not a random one.

Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a sizeable reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

 

February 26, 2002

Deputy arrested after he’s found with a young girl

Big Pine Key – A Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested after he was caught in bed with a 14 year old girl early today (Tuesday).

28 year old Patrick McCroskey was found in bed with the girl at her Big Pine Key home by her parents. After being caught, McCroskey left in his marked patrol unit. When the Sheriff’s Office was notified at 6:15 a.m., a notice to be on the lookout for him was put out on Sheriff’s Office radios and a Sheriff’s Office helicopter was called out to assist in the search.

His patrol car was spotted from the air at 7:20 a.m. and deputies responded to the area of Coconut Highway on Big Pine Key. McCroskey was taken into custody without incident. He has been charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a child under 16 years of age.

McCroskey was suspended without pay and notified of his pending termination. He has worked for the Sheriff’s Office since January of 2000. He was initially hired as an auxiliary deputy, then sent through a law enforcement academy after which he was assigned to work in the Marathon area. Most recently, he was assigned as a deputy for the City of Marathon.

Prior to working for the Sheriff’s Office, he worked at the Naval Air Station in Key West as a Patrol Sergeant with their security force.

There is both a criminal case and an internal affairs investigation currently underway into McCroskey’s actions.

 

February 25, 2002

Human “archaeological” remains found in Islamorada

Monroe County – Sheriff’s detectives were notified Friday of possible human remains, believed to be “archaeological” in nature, found at the site of a recent seawall construction site in Islamorada.

Jim Miller, State Archaeologist, Chief of Archaeological Research for the Division of Historical Resources (phone: 850-245-6301, cell: 850-508-0599) called Detective Sgt. Corey Bryan to report the find. He said he received a call February 20th from a guest at the Islander Motel in Islamorada. The guest told him there were possible human remains “in a soil matrix that appeared to be part of the boulders brought in to build the seawall,” according to an e-mail letter from Miller.

Miller called a local “avocational archeologist”, Jim Clupper, and asked him to stop by and check out the report. Clupper called him back to report that the remains do appear to be human, and that “it seemed likely that they were part of an archaeological deposit at the stone quarry from where the boulders were removed,” according to the letter. Clupper said he’d contacted the contractor, Lindback Construction of Tavernier, but was waiting for a return call.

Miller called Det. Sgt. Bryan and the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in compliance with Florida Statute 872.05 which requires such a notification be made when human remains of such a nature are found. Miller will be continuing his investigation of where the remains may have come from.

Key Largo man charged with stabbing another man over cigarettes

Key Largo – A Key Largo man was arrested Friday after noon after he used a filet knife to stab his roommate in the hand. The two were arguing over cigarettes.

According to a report by Deputy Flo Williams, the victim received a deep stab wound on his hand when 41 year old Kevin Brand attacked him. The victim said he confronted Brand because Brand had been stealing his cigarettes. The victim said he took Brand’s glasses off and broke them. Brand then shoved the victim face first into a wall. When the victim turned around, Brand had a filet knife which he swung at the victim. The victim put out his hand to defend himself and was stabbed.

The victim fled outside with Brand in pursuit. Brand then picked up a metal rake and swung it at the victim, missing him.

Responding deputies found Brand still on the scene. He was placed under arrest for aggravated battery and aggravated assault and he was taken to jail.

Traffic Enforcement Officers participate in Buckle Up Florida campaign

Islamorada – Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement deputies worked a special enforcement detail in the Islamorada area in compliance with a “Buckle Up, Florida” effort taking place state wide.

In a six hour period, Traffic Enforcement deputies wrote 28 citations to people not wearing safety belts in their vehicles. 24 other types of citations were written, and deputies worked one traffic accident and arrested one person for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. 22 warnings were issued as well.

The safety belt citations were issued after the driver’s were pulled over for other violations. In the State of Florida, a driver may not be pulled over for a safety belt offense alone, but may be ticketed for not wearing a safety belt after having been stopped for some other offense.

Marathon man charged with robbing another man at gunpoint

Marathon – A Marathon resident was arrested Sunday night, charged with committing armed robbery.

19 year old Yenny Lopez is accused of robbing his neighbor at gunpoint. The victim called the Sheriff’s Office Sunday night from a pay phone at the nearby Winn Dixie store. Deputies Gerry Leathers and Patrick McCroskey responded to investigate. The victim told the deputies Lopez attacked him on the balcony of his apartment at 240 Sombrero Road in Marathon at 8 p.m. Sunday. He said Lopez had a “long gun”, meaning a shotgun or rifle. He said Lopez was wearing a mask, but the victim said he recognized his voice and, during the course of the robbery the victim was reportedly able to pull of the mask and saw Lopez’s face.

Lopez allegedly demanded gold and cash. He pointed the gun at the victim and hit him with it when he refused to comply with the demands. A piece of the gun’s stock broke off and was found in the victim’s apartment. Lopez allegedly grabbed the victim’s jewelry and cash and fled from the apartment on foot.

Lopez was found in his neighboring apartment and was placed under arrest. He was charged with armed robbery, aggravated battery and grand theft. He was booked into the Monroe County jail.

 

February 21, 2002

Man wanted for attempted murder in Tennessee arrested in Marathon

Marathon – A man wanted for shooting two people and stealing their car was arrested at a Marathon trailer park in the early morning hours today (Thursday).

Authorities from Washington County, Tennessee sent a teletype to Sheriff’s dispatchers and asked that a deputy go to a trailer in Trailerama Trailer Park in Marathon. They had information that 19 year old Francisco Lopez-Garzon was there. He is wanted in Washington County, Tennessee, for two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated robbery. A teletype confirming the warrants says he “should be considered armed and dangerous.”

According to a warrant faxed to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Lopez-Garzon allegedly took money and a car from two men at gunpoint January 16th. During the course of the robbery, he shot both men.

Sgt. Doug Penley and Deputy Lin Badman found Lopez-Garzon at 1:20 a.m. sleeping on a couch inside the trailer at lot #45. He was taken into custody without incident. He will be held for extradition to Tennessee.

 

February 15, 2002

Fight at Islamorada hotel leads to stabbing

Islamorada – An early morning fight at an Islamorada resort ended with one man stabbed in the head and the other under arrest for aggravated battery.

Sheriff’s detectives say that 40 year old Walter McGinnis of Lake Worth, Florida stabbed 30 year old Johnny Torres in the head, puncturing his skull just behind his left ear. Torres was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami where he is critical condition today. The two men, and a woman, were staying at the Tropic Air Resort in Islamorada when the incident occurred. McGinnis went out for the evening. Torres and the woman, Tammy Moreno, stayed at the motel.

When McGinnis returned just before 3:30 a.m., he found the door to the motel room locked. He became angry and when Torres opened the door, the two men began to fight. The fight reportedly continued outside the motel and at some point, McGinnis got a knife from inside of his van and stabbed Torres in the head with it.

McGinnis told detectives he was trying to leave the motel in his van when Torres grabbed him around the neck and began choking him. He said that is why he grabbed his knife and stabbed Torres. McGinnis does have some bruising around his neck which might indicate someone tried to choke him.

Torres, who was interviewed at Mariner’s hospital before being flown to Miami, told detectives he was outside the motel trying to help McGinnis find his dog, which had run outside. He said McGinnis got the knife and began swinging it at him for no reason.

Moreno said she stayed in the hotel room and did not see what happened outside. She said the two men fought in the room, but she broke up the fight. She said the men went outside to look for McGinnis’ dog. She said the next thing she knew, Torres was calling to her from outside, saying McGinnis had stabbed him.

After the stabbing, McGinnis called Sheriff’s dispatchers to report that he had just stabbed someone. He then left the area in his van. He was found a short time later at Bud and Mary’s Marina in Islamorada and was taken into custody. He was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 12, 2002

Big Pine man found floating in Newfound Harbor

Big Pine Key – A Big Pine Key man was found floating in the waters off of Big Pine in Newfound Harbor this morning (Tuesday).

The body of 56 year old Braulio Rojas, who lived on a boat in Newfound Harbor, was found about 100 feet off shore in approximately four feet of water. Detectives say he was last seen by friends at about 5:30 p.m. Monday at a Big Pine Key pharmacy.

The body exhibited no obvious signs of foul play. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of his death.

Air Hockey table taken from Blue Heron Park

Big Pine Key – The Blue Heron Park on Big Pine Key reported the theft of an air hockey game sometime over the weekend.

The air hockey game is a Harvard Brand valued at $550.00. Air hockey accessories were taken along with it. The game was kept in an area underneath the office, along with a number of other games. The area is fenced all the way around from floor to ceiling.

Anyone with information about the incident can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers may remain anonymous and if a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

February 7, 2002

Man arrested four times in 24 hours

Stock Island/Key West – A homeless man was arrested by police and sheriff’s deputies four times in a 24 hour period. He is now (finally) being held without bond in the Monroe County Detention Center.

47 year old William Edward Halligan was arrested the first time Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. by Key West Police after they found him at Mallory Square in Key West yelling and causing a disturbance as cruise ship passengers disembarked. A number of passengers were standing around taking pictures of Halligan as he caused the disturbance. He was warned repeatedly to stop yelling, and was finally placed under arrest for disorderly conduct and was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. He posted a $210.00 bond a short time later and was released.

His next arrest took place at 12:30 p.m. at the Sunset Marina Condominium Complex. Deputies arrived after receiving reports of a disturbance. They found Halligan yelling so loudly that residents were coming outside to see what was wrong. Management on the property told him a number of times to leave, but he refused. He was arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct and he was again booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. He posted a $420.00 bond a short time later and was released.

Halligan’s third arrest was at 10:20 p.m. Deputies were called to Jolly’s Liquors. When they arrived, they met with a taxi driver who said he’d picked up Halligan at the Hospital on College Road. Halligan wanted to go to the liquor store. Once there, Halligan couldn’t pay the cab fare of $16.15. Halligan reportedly had a money order which was too large for the liquor store to cash. Halligan was arrested, charged with theft, and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. He posted a $280.00 bond using the money order a short time later and he was released.

His final arrest was at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. A security guard at Florida Keys Community College called to report that a strange man was following him around the College property. He asked the man to leave several times and the man refused. When deputies arrived, they found the man to be Halligan. When deputies placed Halligan under arrest for trespassing, he became violent. He fought with the deputies, and, once he was placed in the back of a patrol car, he kicked out one of the windows in the car. Halligan was charged with trespassing, criminal mischief, resisting arrest with violence and disorderly conduct and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Because the resisting arrest with violence and the criminal mischief charges are felony offenses, he was held until he could attend a first appearance hearing. The judge ordered no bond allowed at that time.

February 6, 2002

Big Pine man charged with attempted murder

Big Pine Key – A 20 year old Big Pine Key man was arrested Tuesday and charged with hitting a 17 year old in the head with a baseball bat, fracturing his skull.

The 17 year old victim, Joel Bermudez, who is also from Big Pine Key, was airlifted to Miami from Fisherman’s Hospital for treatment of his potentially life threatening injuries.

20 year old Adam Berwick told Sgt. Vaughn Sommers he got home from work Tuesday shortly before 6 p.m. and saw Bermudez walking down the street. He said he went home, changed his clothes, grabbed the baseball bat and went outside to confront him. Berwick said Bermudez has been making sexual advances to his 13 year old sister and harassing her. He said he was going to tell Bermudez to leave his sister alone.

According to witnesses, Berwick walked up to Bermudez as he was walking on Avenue D, Big Pine Key. Bermudez turned around, and Berwick swung the bat, hitting him in the forehead. He then allegedly hit him again in the back of the head. A companion of Bermudez saw the attack and ran to call 911 for help.

Paramedics from Monroe County Emergency Medical Services arrived to treat and transport the victim. Deputies found Berwick at his house on Avenue E and placed him under arrest, charging him with attempted murder. Berwick said he only wanted to protect his sister and didn’t mean to hurt Bermudez.

February 5, 2002

Businesses hit with money order fraud

Monroe County – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a series of money order fraud cases which have taken place over the past few months in the middle and upper Keys.

Detective Mike Wilkinson says he has spoken to other agencies in south Florida who are also investigating similar cases. He says suspects obtain money orders in small dollar amounts, then alter the amounts of the money orders. They bring the money orders in to local businesses and use them to buy something, then take cash for the remaining amount of the money order. The money orders are later returned to the businesses stamped “Altered Amount”.

Detective Wilkinson says the alteration is difficult to detect. Several different types of money orders have been used. In all of the reported cases in the Keys, the clerks who accepted the money orders say the suspects operate as a male and female couple, both described as African American. In two of the cases, clerks have obtained driver’s license information on the suspects and arrest warrants have been issued.

Detective Wilkinson says he believes there are a number of people involved in committing these crimes, and he believes they will continue to commit the fraud cases. Businesses should be aware and alert and should ask for a photo identification from anyone attempting to use a money order to purchase items, or to pay for services of any kind. So far, detectives are investigating at least seven similar cases in Marathon and in the upper Keys. Some of the businesses involved include the Key Largo Adult Bookstore, the Rain Barrel on Plantation Key, the Romance Store in Islamorada, the Tropic Vista Motel in Tavernier and The Tavernier Hotel.

The two arrest warrants issued so far are for 29 year old Christopher Allison of Miami and for 50 year old Francois Sylne of Miami. When apprehended, both men will be charged with one count of Uttering a Forged Instrument.

Stock Island man charged with pulling a gun on a Corrections Officer

Stock Island – A Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer reported a former inmate who lives on Stock Island pulled a gun on him and threatened him with it.

Deputy James Williams arrested 24 year old Talmadge Singleton Monday afternoon. According to the victim, he was standing in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Stock Island with his brother when the incident occurred. He said a car pulled up to him with a man he recognized as Singleton sitting in the passenger seat. He said Singleton has been an inmate under his supervision at the Detention Center in the past.

He said Singleton said he was going to “get him”. He then got out of the car and pulled a gun out of his pants. He pointed it at the victim, who then took cover behind a parked car. Singleton then got back into the car and left the scene.

He was later arrested by Deputy Williams when he returned to the area on foot. He was charged with Aggravated Assault and was booked into the Stock Island Detention Cent