February 28, 2003
Deputies pull unconscious woman from condo fire
Marathon – Deputies pulled an unconscious
woman from a fire in her condominium Thursday night. One deputy was treated
for smoke inhalation and another for minor injuries he received during the
Joan Walker Cummins was unconscious when Deputies Jake
Brady and Joel Slough pulled her through a broken sliding glass door at the
rear of her condo. She is currently being treated at the Miami Burn Center.
She was transferred there in the early morning hours from Fishermen’s
Hospital in Marathon. She is reportedly suffering from burns and smoke
They’d responded to reports of a fire at Country Club
Condos on Sombrero Boulevard in Marathon at 10:30 p.m. When they arrived,
they learned there was someone trapped inside. Deputy Sonya Morgan had
already attempted to enter the condo through the front door, but she was
overcome by smoke. She was treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation.
Deputy Brady approached the condo from the rear and
found a neighbor trying to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose through a
broken sliding glass door. The deputy could see Cummins inside, lying on the
floor. He and Deputy Slough entered and were able to carry her outside. She
was breathing but unconscious.
Fire Marshal Wally Romero is investigating the cause of
First “E-Mail” Crime Stopper Tip Arrest
Big Coppitt Key - A fugitive is in the Monroe County
Detention Center thanks to an e-mail tip delivered to Crime Stoppers of the
The tip directed Sheriff’s Deputies to a residence on
Big Coppitt Key where 25-year old Michael G. Boyett was staying. Boyett is
wanted for violation of probation stemming from charges of grand theft auto,
leaving the scene of an accident with damages, and attempting to elude
officers. Deputy David Lariz took Boyett into custody Tuesday night without
The tipster in this case spotted Boyett’s name on the
outstanding warrants section of the Sheriff’s website. The website provides
a link to Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. The tipster simply e-mailed
the tip about Boyett’s location. Crime Stoppers alerted Deputies, resulting
in Boyett’s apprehension.
Boyett is now in the Detention Center and is held under
a fifty thousand dollar bond. The case marks the first time locally that an
e-mail Crime Stopper tip has resulted in an arrest. “The outstanding
warrant list and Crime Stopper e-mail option on our website gives law
enforcement yet another crime fighting tool,” said Sheriff Richard Roth.
The e-mail tipster in this case will receive a reward
determined by the Crime Stopper’s civilian board of directors. Crime
Stoppers pays up to one thousand dollars for tip information that leads to
an arrest. So far this year, Crime Stopper tips have resulted in six
arrests and the closure of eleven felony cases in the Keys. The Crime
Stoppers anonymous hotline is 1-800-346-8477. Tipsters can also contact
Crime Stoppers through the Sheriff’s website at
www.keysso.net or via email at
Date: February 25, 2003
Corrections Officer arrested for contraband
Key West – A Corrections Officer with the
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was arrested today (Tuesday) after an
investigation revealed he had smuggled tobacco and marijuana into the main
Detention facility on Stock Island.
26 year old John Pita has been charged with introducing
contraband into a Detention facility and with perjury. He was booked into
the detention center on Stock Island at noon today, and was released almost
immediately after posting a $5,000.00 bond.
The investigation into his activities began in November
of 2002 when an inmate reported to a Corrections Sergeant that an officer
was bringing tobacco products and marijuana into the facility. The case was
assigned to investigators with the Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Unit. The
inmate could not specifically identify the corrections officer, but he gave
investigators the location of the contraband, which was later found during a
“shakedown” of that particular area of the jail. Further investigation
revealed the officer in question to be Pita.
Pita was confronted about the accusations and denied
bringing in the contraband. Interviews with several other inmates also
indicated that Pita had brought in tobacco and marijuana. Pita finally
admitted to bringing a package containing what he thought was tobacco and a
cigarette lighter into the facility and giving it to an inmate. He said in
exchange, he was paid $50.00.
Pita has been suspended without pay pending a
termination hearing scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday).
Sheriff’s Office to offer free car washes
Stock Island – The Monroe County Sheriff’s
Office will be offering FREE car washes this Saturday for residents of Stock
Island who have been plagued by dust from street projects in that area
Deputy Matt Dowling and a group of Sheriff’s Office
Cadets will be at the Stock Island Chevron Station Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1
p.m. washing cars. Anyone who wishes to take them up on this generous offer
may do so.
“We just want to show that we are giving something back
to the community on Stock Island,” said Deputy Dowling. “Many neighborhoods
on Stock Island have been putting up with construction and street work for
months now. Their cars are getting filthy from the dust, and we would like
to offer them a free car wash.”
Dowling has been acting as the Community Policing
Officer for the Stock Island area, and has been responsible for many clean
up projects in that area, including the clean up of the bicycle path along
Highway U.S. One, and the clean up of the Key Haven boat ramp area. He says
the Stock Island Chevron Station has generously offered to allow their
property to be used for Saturday’s activities.
The Sheriff’s Office Cadet/Explorer Group, Post 904, has
volunteered to spend their time and energy washing cars Saturday. The car
wash itself is free, but anyone who has their car washed is welcome to make
a donation to the Post.
February 20, 2003
Origin of mystery bone is discovered
Key Largo – The origins of a bone found at
a construction site in Key Largo have been discovered and the mystery is
solved, according to Sheriff’s detectives.
The property was recently sold to new owners because the
previous owner, Joe Hackney, died. Hackney’s son called Detectives Larry
O’Neill and James Norman after seeing a story about the bone in the Keynoter
newspaper Saturday. He told them he knew where the bone came from: a
graveyard in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He said when he was ten years old, he
and a friend found it and brought it home. The bone broke while they were
playing with it, and he was able to describe to Detective Norman what the
bone looked like and where it was broken.
He said his father took the bone away from him when they
moved from Louisiana to Tennessee in the late 60s. He said he just assumed
his father had thrown it away, but when he read about the bone in the
newspaper, he realized his father had kept it for some reason.
“It is always nice when a mystery is solved,” said
Detective Norman. “His description of the bone convinced me he was telling
the truth. The bone was part of an above-ground gravesite in Louisiana the
two boys found.”
The bone is now in the custody of the Monroe County
Medical Examiner’s Office.
Burglary sting leads to arrest
Key Largo – A burglar was foiled in his
attempt to break in to a Key Largo business after detectives heard about his
plans and set up a sting operation.
Detective Dillon Corr received information that 18 year
old William Hume was planning to break in to Boater’s World in Key Largo
Tuesday night. The owner of the business was contacted and a sting operation
was set up to catch Hume in the act.
Tuesday night, detectives waited inside the store with
the back door unlocked and the alarm system turned off. When Hume entered
the store, just before 10 p.m., he was taken into custody. A search of his
pockets turned up a pipe used to smoke crack cocaine. He was charged with
burglary, attempted theft and possession of drug paraphernalia and he was
booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
February 13, 2003
arrested after search warrant
Tavernier - A
Tavernier man was arrested Tuesday after a search warrant at his residence
turned up powdered cocaine and marijuana.
Detectives from the
Sheriff's Special Investigations Unit say they served the search warrant
after several purchases of powdered cocaine were made from 32 year old
Robert Senteno, Jr.s home on Hood Avenue. The search turned up 50 grams of
powdered cocaine in a drawer in his bedroom and marijuana sitting in plain
view on a kitchen table. Several items of drug paraphernalia were also
found including rolling papers, pipes and an electronic scale.
Senteno was arrested
and charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of marijuana and drug
paraphernalia. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
charged with drug possession
Marathon - A Marathon
man was arrested in the early morning hours Wednesday after he was found
to be in possession of crack cocaine.
Kellenberger was on foot patrol in the area of 42nd Street at 2:45 a.m.
when he spotted a van parked at the end of the street with the dome light
on and the keys in the ignition. He waited until the driver returned, then
asked if he was in the area to purchase drugs.
49 year old David Neil
Banfield said he was not in the area for that purpose. When Deputy
Kellenberger asked permission to search the van, Banfield agreed. As the
deputy was searching, he saw Banfield reach into his pocket and toss
something on the ground. The item turned out to be a piece of cellophane
with seven crack cocaine rocks inside.
When the deputy placed
Banfield under arrest for possession of the illegal substance, he began to
struggle. Backup arrived and he was subdued, and further charged with
resisting arrest. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
shoplifters arrested at Home Depot
Marathon - Three
Marathon men were arrested after they stole over $200.00 worth of
merchandise from the Home Depot store in Marathon.
Deputy Greg Korzen was
called to Home Depot just before 7 p.m. When he arrived, the store's loss
prevention manager told him he'd detained three men for shoplifting. He
said he saw the men load a bathtub onto a shopping card. Then then put a
faucet and other plumbing supplies into the bathtub through a hole in the
cardboard surrounding it. After concealing the items in the bathtub, they
put a toilet on top of the tub to conceal the hole in the cardboard and
went to the checkout counter.
The three men paid for
the visible merchandise, leaving the store without paying for the other
items concealed inside.
18 year old Ricardo
Gonzalez, 44 year old Jorge Martinez and 43 year old Gustavo Sanchez were
all arrested for retail theft. They were booked into the Monroe County
Man charged with
burglary to boat
Islamorada - A man who
lists himself as homeless was arrested for burglarizing a boat in
Witnesses saw 23 year
old George Rosendale, Jr. get on a boat parked on San Juan Drive in
Islamorada at 5 p.m. He was attempting to remove fishing poles from the
boat when he was confronted by a witness to the attempted theft. Rosendale
told the witness the boat was owned by a friend. He then dropped the
fishing poles and fled the scene driving a gold colored Acura.
The Sheriff's Office
was notified about the incident and a notice to be on the lookout for the
car was sent out over police radios. Deputy Jose Carballo spotted the car
in the parking lot of McDonald's restaurant in Tavernier. The witness
positively identified Rosendale and the man who tried to steal the poles.
Rosendale was in possession of a suspended driver's license when he was
arrested. A search of his vehicle also turned up drug paraphernalia. He
was charged with burglary, attempted petit theft, possession of drug
paraphernalia and possession of a suspended driver's license. He was
booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.
February 10, 2003
Two men charged with stealing two vans
Long Key – Two stolen vans were recovered
Sunday and two men arrested for stealing them.
Deputy Wilfredo Guerra responded to Long Key State Park
to a report that a park ranger was pursuing two vehicles that did not pay to
get in the park, and were driving recklessly on park property. When Deputy
Guerra arrived, Sheriff’s dispatchers informed him the two vehicles in
question, both vans, might be two vehicles reported stolen earlier in the
Deputy Guerra, assisted by a Florida Highway patrol
trooper, managed to safely get all five subjects in the two vans out and on
the ground. They were then handcuffed for officer safety reasons. Further
investigation revealed both vans were, indeed stolen. One had been stolen
from the parking lot of the Eckerd Drug Store in Islamorada; the other from
the parking lot of Jo Jo’s Restaurant on Grassy Key.
The two drivers, 16 year old Michael Medina and 16 year
old Manuel Chavarria, both of Miami, were arrested and charged with grand
theft auto. They were further charged with criminal mischief because the
ignitions of both vehicles had been broken when they were stolen. A check on
their driver’s license status revealed both had been suspended, so they were
also charged with driving with a suspended license.
The owners of the vehicles responded to the scene to
retrieve their vehicles. The two boys were booked at the Monroe County
Detention Center. The three passengers in the vans were released.
Man charged with animal cruelty
Fiesta Key – A Rochester, New York man was
arrested Saturday and charged with animal cruelty for duct taping his dog’s
muzzle shut to keep the dog from barking.
Deputy Greg Korzen responded to the Fiesta Key
campground just after 9 p.m. to reports of a man mistreating his dog. When
he arrived, he found the medium sized mixed breed dog with duct tape wrapped
tightly around its muzzle. The dog was on a short chain and was whining; it
had no food or water available.
The manager of the campground said the dog was barking,
and he told the dog’s owner, 47 year old Michael Muehleisen, to take care of
the dog because it was disturbing other campers. Muehleisen, who was
drinking in the pub at the campground, left, put the duct tape on the dog’s
muzzle, them returned to the pub, telling the manager he took care of the
Deputy Korzen found Muehleisen still at the pub. He
arrested him for animal cruelty and booked him into the Monroe County
Two arrested for possessing marijuana after traffic stop
Marathon – Two Key West residents were
arrested for possessing a large amount of marijuana after their car was
pulled over for having an expired license tag.
Deputy Greg Korzen was on patrol at 3:25 a.m. Sunday
when he saw a silver Ford station wagon in the vicinity of 46th
street with expired tags. He pulled the car over. There were two people
Deputy Korzen noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming
from inside the car. When he asked the two men about it, one of them pulled
out a small bag of marijuana and handed it to the deputy. Deputy Korzen then
asked for permission to search the vehicle. The men agreed to the search.
Under the front passenger seat of the car were two bags
of marijuana with a total of 108 grams of marijuana inside. The two men, 20
year old Nicholas Posada and 21 year old Stephen Welsh, were arrested and
charged with possession of marijuana. They were booked into the Monroe
County Detention Center.
February 7, 2003
Sheriff’s detectives looking for fraud suspect
Monroe County – Sheriff’s detectives are
looking for a man accused of defrauding a Big Pine Key couple out of
The man, 47 year old Darwin Eldridge Singleton, was
reportedly selling spas at the Big Pine Flea Market when he met and sold a
spa to the victims. They paid him for a spa, giving him $1,500.00, followed
by $1,000.00 and an Atocha Coin valued at $500.00 for the balance. The spa
was subsequently delivered to their Big Pine Key home. Singleton told them
he was the manufacturer of the spas and that his business was called Island
Spas, located in Medley, Florida. He offered the victims a partnership in
his business in return for $12,000 in cash. The victim’s agreed, and wrote
him two checks, the first for $3,000.00 to Island Spas. The second check was
written for $9,000.00 to Singleton personally.
On January 29th, the victims called Island
Spas and talked to the real owner, who told them Singleton was just a spa
salesperson for the business. The victims then called the Sheriff’s Office
and a detective was assigned to the investigation.
The detective spoke with the owner of Island Spas and
learned that Singleton gave him the $3,000 check written to Island Spas in
payment for the spa that was delivered to the victim’s on Big Pine Key. No
other money was paid to Island Spas, but the detective checked with the bank
on which the $9,000 check was written and found that Singleton had cashed it
on January 28th using a Texas driver’s license.
A warrant has been issued for Singleton’s arrest for
Grand Theft, signed by Judge Susan Vernon. Bond on the warrant is set at
$35,000.00. Anyone who knows Singleton’s whereabouts should contact the
Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime
Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a caller’s tip leads to his arrest, the
caller would be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers
hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.