Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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


August 29, 2003

Three charged with drug possession

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Marathon – Three Marathon residents were arrested Thursday morning after deputies found drugs in their possession and in a motel room they were sharing.

Deputies received information at 4 a.m. Thursday that there was drug activity in a room at the Sandpiper Motel in Marathon. As they were responding to check out the information, they saw a man walking away from the motel. He fit the description of one of the people involved in the drug activity, so they stopped him for questioning.

During the questioning, Deputies asked 21 year old Jason Ross for permission to search his pockets for weapons. Ross agreed. In one of his pockets, the deputy found marijuana wrapped in cellophane. Ross was charged with possession of the marijuana.

Deputies then asked Ross about the reports of possible weapons and drug activity at the motel. Ross admitted to renting a room with two friends. He said there were no weapons in the room, and no drugs “that he knew of” in the room either. He said he was the one who rented the room, and he gave permission for the deputies to search it.

In the room, the deputies found more marijuana as well as cocaine and alcohol. The two other people inside, 20 year old Michelle Steadman and 18 year old John Buddingh were both arrested. Steadman was charged with possession of cocaine and Buddingh was charged with possession of cocaine, marijuana and possession of alcohol by a person under 21 years of age.

All three were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Deputies Chuck Kellenberger, Alice Cervantes, Andrew Ensminger and Gregg Johnson assisted in the investigation.

August 28, 2003

Surveillance operation nets three suspects trying to steal boat

A multi-agency surveillance operation aimed at combating a rash of boat and boat engine thefts in the Upper Keys met with success early today as lawmen caught three men as they tried to steal a boat in Key Largo.

The incident started around 3:40 a.m. when Sheriff’s deputies, posted at a Port Largo area canal, were notified by an FWC (Florida Wildlife Commission) surveillance vessel that a boat heading their way had just been stolen. Deputies spotted two men jump to a dock from the suspicious vessel after it made a quick turn towards the dock with the FWC patrol boat in pursuit. The lawmen pursued the suspects through a yard, but the suspects got into a waiting car and sped away. They didn’t get very far.

A Sheriff’s deputy, patrolling the area as part of the surveillance, intercepted the fleeing vehicle and stopped it at the intersection of Atlantic Boulevard and Caribbean Drive. Three men in the car were detained for questioning. Deputies found several screwdrivers in the car and two of the suspects had pliers and screwdrivers in their pockets .Two hand held radios and a spotlight were also found in the car. The suspects, all from the Miami area, gave deputies differing stories on why they were in the neighborhood. Deputies also discovered that the stolen boat’s ignition had been hot-wired. The ignition was punched out and a knife blade was stuck in it.

Deputies located the owner of the boat, who said he did not give anyone permission to be on the vessel which is valued at 189-thousand dollars. After further investigation and questioning, Sheriff’s detectives charged the three suspects with burglary, grand theft, possession of burglary tools and loitering and prowling. Booked into county jail were 25-year old Alberto Dominguez-Ruiz, 26-year old Lazaro A. Rodriguez and 18-year old Yuliesky Valdes.

Investigation of the case is continuing and more charges may be filed against the three suspects. Also assisting the Sheriff’s Office in the surveillance operation were officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and U.S. Customs.

August 25, 2003

Juvenile arrested in connection with roadblock incident with help from a Crime Stopper tip

Key Largo-Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a juvenile in connection with a suspicious incident that occurred last month near mile marker 98 on U.S. Highway One in Key Largo. An anonymous Crime Stopper tip assisted detectives in the investigation. The incident started on July 23 when Sheriff’s dispatchers received two phone calls from drivers who said they were traveling northbound at one a.m. when they were forced to stop at the 98 mile marker by traffic cones across the roadway, When they came to a stop, both driver say they saw a man standing in the road with a rifle in his hands. One of the drivers said he heard a loud noise, possibly a gunshot. Both drivers reacted by quickly turning their cars around and fleeing south, stopping at the nearest phone to call the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s Deputies searched the area with a K-9 team and the Sheriff’s Knight Star helicopter assisting, but no suspect was found.

Detectives developed several leads in the case and on July 30, a Crime Stopper tip identified a Key Largo juvenile as one of the suspects. Detectives went to the juvenile’s house and met with him and his parents. The juvenile admitted that he was with a group of juveniles who went to a wooded area near the 98-mile marker to shoot an air rifle (B.B gun). The juvenile named the youth who had the weapon and who assisted in putting traffic cones on the roadway. Detectives interviewed the 15-year old suspect, who admitted placing the cones on the highway and carrying the air rifle. The youth was arrested on misdemeanor charges of assault and was turned over to juvenile authorities. Crime Stoppers will pay a reward to the tipster who helped solve the case. The Crime Stoppers number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

 

Drug delivery intercepted

Aug. 22, 2003 

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An anonymous tip helped Sheriff’s detectives intercept a Keys bound drug delivery last night.  Detectives received information that a maroon colored Jeep Cherokee would be transporting a load of cocaine into the Keys.  The tip also provided the vehicle’s license tag number and the names of two suspects.  The suspect car was spotted southbound on Big Pine Key about 11 p.m.  A contingent of lawmen, including Sheriff’s patrol, detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit, FDLE officers and FWC officers, followed the suspect vehicle to near Shark Key.  The suspect vehicle began weaving back and forth across the centerline of the highway.  The deputy in the Sheriff’s patrol vehicle directly behind the suspect turned on his overhead lights and attempted a traffic stop.  However, the driver of the suspect vehicle increased his speed until he reached a convenience store on Big Coppitt Key where he made an abrupt turn and stopped in front of store.  A passenger in the suspect’s car jumped out and fled on foot while the driver sped out of the parking lot and headed southbound again on U.S. One.  The pursuing officers split up, several chasing the suspect on foot; others continuing to follow the southbound suspect jeep.  The driver of that jeep continued at a high rate of speed.  While crossing the Boca Chica Bridge, deputies saw the driver throw a duffle bag out of the car and into the water.  The driver then pulled over just south of the bridge and surrendered to the lawmen.  The driver, identified as 27-year old Miguel Gonzalez, of Stock Island, denied throwing the bag from the car.  Officers from the FWC called for a boat and used it to retrieve the duffle bag that was floating about 100 yards from the bridge.  A field test of the bag showed positive for cocaine residue. Officers also found a white powdery substance all over the car’s interior.  The substance also tested positive for cocaine.  Officers also noticed that there was white powder on Gonzalez’s clothing.  A field test of the clothing also indicated cocaine.  Detectives theorize that the suspects may have cut open packets of cocaine and  poured them out of the car during the chase.

Gonzalez was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, reckless driving, fleeing and eluding and tampering with evidence.  Officers were also able to capture the passenger who fled from the vehicle at the convenience store.  29-year old Jose Clemente, of Big Pine Key, was charged with resisting an officer with violence. Both suspects were booked into the County Detention Center.   Agents from the FDLE and a Key West Police Canine unit also assisted in the case.

 

 

 

 

 

August 25, 2003

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Juvenile arrested in connection with roadblock incident with help from a Crime Stop

Key Largo-Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a juvenile in connection with a suspicious incident that occurred last month near mile marker 98 on U.S. Highway One in Key Largo. An anonymous Crime Stopper tip assisted detectives in the investigation.  The incident started on July 23 when Sheriff’s dispatchers received two phone calls from drivers who said they were traveling northbound at one a.m. when they were forced to stop at the 98 mile marker by traffic cones across the roadway,  When they came to a stop, both driver say they saw a man standing in the road with a rifle in his hands.  One of the drivers said he heard a loud noise, possibly a gunshot.  Both drivers reacted by quickly turning their cars around and fleeing south, stopping at the nearest phone to call the Sheriff’s Office.  Sheriff’s Deputies searched the area with a K-9 team and the Sheriff’s Knight Star helicopter assisting, but no suspect was found. 

Detectives developed several leads in the case and on July 30, a Crime Stopper tip identified a Key Largo juvenile as one of the suspects.  Detectives went to the juvenile’s house and met with him and his parents. The juvenile admitted that he was with a  group of juveniles who went to a wooded area near the 98-mile marker to shoot an air rifle (B.B gun).  The juvenile named the youth who had the weapon and who assisted in putting traffic cones on the roadway.  Detectives interviewed the 15-year old suspect,  who admitted placing the cones on the highway and carrying  the air rifle.  The youth was arrested on misdemeanor charges of assault and was turned over to juvenile authorities.  Crime Stoppers will pay a reward to the tipster who helped solve the case. The Crime Stoppers number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

 

August 20, 2003

Nine vehicles burglarized in Key Largo

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Key Largo – Sheriff’s detectives are investigating nine vehicle burglaries which took place at an upper Keys auto repair business.

An employee of Wheaton’s Service Center in Key Largo reported to work Tuesday morning, only to find that nine vehicles parked at the business had been broken into overnight. A large amount of property was taken during the break ins, primarily stereo equipment.

Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. 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.

Kissimmee man charged with impersonating a police officer

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Marathon – A Kissimmee, Florida man was arrested Tuesday night at a Marathon bar after he claimed he was a police officer and showed the bartender and a waitress a badge he was carrying in his wallet.

According to reports by Deputy Lester Greenwood, 32 year old Randy Marrero-Rivera was in Gary’s Pub in Marathon with a group of friends. Some of his friends did not have proper identification, so the bartender refused to serve them beer. Marrero-Rivera flashed his badge several times, insisting that the bartender and a waitress serve his friends alcohol. On several occasions he also verbally identified himself as a law enforcement officer. The bartender finally asked the group to leave, then called the Sheriff’s Office.

When Deputy Greenwood arrived, he found them still in the parking lot. He asked Marrero-Rivera about the badge, which turned out to be a badge for family members of law enforcement. Marrero-Rivera was arrested and charged with impersonation of a law enforcement officer and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

 

August 18, 2003

Dive Team finds missing free-diver

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Tavernier – The Sheriff’s Office dive team found the body of a missing Palm Beach man who disappeared while free-diving Saturday evening.

21 year old Paul Limegrover was on board a private boat Saturday with six of his friends. They had been wakeboarding, fishing and snorkeling for most of the day. They were about 4.5 miles out on the Oceanside of Tavernier, between Conch Reef and Davis Reef. Limegrover, an experienced free diver and spear fisherman, went into the water with his spear gun late in the afternoon. Tied to the gun was a nylon line attached to a float at the surface.

His friends say he surfaced with a fish and said he was going back down after another fish he’d just seen. A short time later, they noticed his float was no longer moving around. When they pulled the line up, they found the spear gun at the end of it still loaded.

They circled the area in the boat for a short time, looking for Limegrover. One friend dove in and snorkeled looking for him as well. When they failed to find any trace of him, they called the Coast Guard for help at about 6 p.m.

A Coast Guard boat and helicopter were dispatched, along with the Sheriff’s Office dive team. Searches continued through Sunday and began again today (Monday). Sheriff’s dive team members recovered Limegrover’s body a short distance away from where he was diving, in about 80 feet of water. An autopsy will be done in an attempt to determine the cause of his death.

Key West man charged with aggravated domestic battery, child abuse

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Stock Island – A Key West man who rammed his wife’s car then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her through a mud puddle was arrested Friday morning.

21 year old Bradley Whetstone was arrested after Deputy Matt Dowling was called to the hospital on Stock Island to reports of a domestic battery in progress. When the deputy arrived, he found Whetstone on the scene, along with his wife and two small children, ages 6 months and two and a half years.

According to witnesses and the victim, Whetstone and his wife argued in the parking lot. She got into her car and he got into his truck. He then allegedly rammed the drivers’ side of her car with his truck. His two children were riding in his truck at the time. Whetstone then allegedly grabbed his wife by the hair, throwing her to the ground where he dragged her through a mud puddle.

Whetstone was arrested. He was charged with aggravated domestic battery, domestic battery, two counts of child abuse, and criminal mischief. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Stock Island girl charged with burglary

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Stock Island – A 17 year old Stock Island girl was charged with burglary after the home-owners caught her inside their home attempting to steal money and jewelry.

Deputies were called to a home on Key Haven Road Sunday afternoon to reports of a burglary in progress. When they arrived, they found the owners of the home present, along with 17 year old Holly Ann Robinson. They said they caught Robinson inside their home trying to steal money and jewelry.

Evidence at the scene supported their allegations, so Robinson was arrested for burglary. Her moped was parked at the residence and a search of the vehicle turned up marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a number of prescription medications, some not prescribed for her. She was handcuffed and placed into a patrol car.

A Florida Highway Patrol Trooper provided back up on the call and was asked to watch Robinson while deputies continued their investigation. Robinson was able to get one of her hands out of the handcuffs and was trying to get out of the car when the trooper noticed her behavior. the trooper had to struggle with her in order to get her back into custody and under control.

Robinson was charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling, resisting an officer without violence, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and escape.

Man stopped at checkpoint flees from deputies

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Islamorada – A Key West man fled from deputies after he was stopped at a Sobriety Checkpoint in Islamorada Saturday night.

42 year old William Chadwick was stopped at the checkpoint at the 87 mile marker of U.S. One Saturday at 11:30 p.m. He admitted to having a suspended driver’s license. Deputies checking his license status discovered he had 18 different suspensions, four for driving under the influence of alcohol. When Chadwick saw a law enforcement K-9 team walking toward his car, he took off, fleeing the scene in his 1996 Mercury. Deputies gave chase using lights and sirens in an attempt to stop him, but he refused to stop. Chadwick was driving dangerously, passing in no passing zones and in turn lanes southbound from the checkpoint. At one point he nearly rammed a deputy’s patrol car. Deputy Joe Moran had to swerve to avoid the collision. Because of this dangerous driving, deputies decided to call off the chase and just follow him from a distance.

Chadwick finally stopped his car near the Islander Motel in Islamorada, fleeing on foot with deputies chasing him. He managed to escape, and searches of the area failed to find him.

A search of his car turned up a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the trunk. A warrant will be issued for Chadwick’s arrest. Charges are expected to include fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers, driving with a suspended license, resisting arrest and drug related charges.

Anyone with information about where Chadwick is should call the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. IF a caller’s information leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

August 7, 2003

Stock Island man charged with sexual battery

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Stock Island – A Stock Island man was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexually battering a woman at a Stock Island park in June.

18 year old Adron Barnes is accused of having sex with a 19 year old girl without her consent. According to the arrest affidavit, Barnes and the girl went to Bernstein Park on Stock Island on June 22nd with friends. The two went for a walk in the park. According to the victim, he attempted to fondle her through her clothes, and she told him no several times. The next thing she says she remembers is him raping her. She says she pushed him away, and he left the area.

The victim reportedly told her friends what happened, and they took her to the hospital where she reported being raped. Sheriff’s detectives with the Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit responded and took a report of the incident.

During the course of the investigation, Barnes admitted to having sexual relations with the victim at the park. He admitted that he knew at the time that she was too drunk to know what was happening, or to be able to give consent to the sexual activity. In his words, he said he did “take advantage of the situation.”

A warrant was issued for Barnes Wednesday and he turned himself in to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island Wednesday afternoon. Bond on the warrant was set at $25,000.00. He posted bond Wednesday evening and was released.

Dead man identified

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Stock Island – A 56 year old shrimper from Stock Island probably died after slipping from a dock and falling in to the water.

That’s what detectives believe happened to 56 year old Milton Ipalook, of Stock Island. His body was found Monday morning floating between the seawall and a boat called the Cheryl F. Ipalook was a crew member on that boat.

Ipalook was last seen by the Captain of that vessel walking along Front Street Friday at 11 a.m. with beer and a bag of laundry. His laundry bag was left at the home of an acquaintance, where he was known to do his laundry when he was in port.

An autopsy performed Thursday morning failed to turn up any signs of foul play. According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, it appears Ipalook died of drowning.

Detectives advise Key Largo residents to secure boats and motors

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Key Largo – Detectives in the upper Keys are warning residents to beware of thieves stealing boats and motors.

Four boats have been stolen during a two week period from the Port Largo Subdivision of Key Largo. Thieves are taking the boats, removing the engines, then setting the boats adrift. So far in 2003, detectives say there have been between 30 and 35 boat motors stolen from the Key Largo area alone from both businesses and residences. Motors are also being stolen in many other areas of the Keys.

Despite ongoing investigations, detectives have found it difficult to stem the tide of motor thefts. They need the help of residents as they attempt to catch those responsible.

“We really need people to keep their eyes open and report any type of suspicious activity, either on land or water,” said Detective Sgt. Corey Bryan. Sgt. Bryan says he and his detectives are very frustrated with the whole situation. “We are doing everything we possibly can to stop this,” he said, “but it just feels like we are putting a bandage on an axe wound. The motors and boats just keep disappearing.”

Residents should call 911 immediately if they see any activity which might be related to these ongoing thefts. People with boats should do everything they can to make access to them difficult. Make sure the area the boat is kept in is well lighted and visible. Use chains and locks to secure boats, trailers and motors. Consider purchasing a boat alarm system to make the boat more secure.

Anyone with information about these thefts can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and if the tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Traffic problems expected on Big Pine Saturday

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Big Pine Key – Traveler’s in the vicinity of the south end of Big Pine Key should expect traffic delays Saturday morning and should plan accordingly.

Due to the planned release of a group of whales Saturday morning, there may be unusual amounts of traffic near the North Pine Channel Bridge between the hours of 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. Cars may be traveling slowly, and many people are expected to be attending the event, so there may be large numbers of cars parked in that vicinity as well.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will have extra officers on hand to maintain the safety of both drivers and pedestrians. People planning to attend the event are asked to avoid parking on the sides of the road, and to be careful when walking in the area, particularly when crossing the road on foot.

August 5, 2003

Two girls charged with burglarizing cars

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Key Largo – Two young girls found inside a burglarized vehicle in Key Largo were arrested and charged with burglarizing three cars.

At 5:30 a.m. Sunday, deputies responded to Atlantic Drive in Key Largo to reports of a vehicle burglary in progress. When they arrived, they found a car parked nearby which looked like it had been broken into. Further investigation revealed two young girls inside the car and pieces of stereo equipment on the floorboards which had been removed from the car using bolt cutters. The bolt cutters believed to have been used in the burglary were found just a few feet outside the car, along with other pieces of stereo equipment.

Witnesses who live in the area said they saw the burglary taking place and called the Sheriff’s Office immediately. They said just before deputies arrived, two unknown males fled into a wooded area. A search failed to turn up anyone fitting the males descriptions.

The girls, both from the Miami area, were taken into custody. 13 year old Yesenia Dominguez and 14 year old Ancelma Sifonte were both charged with burglary and grand theft. A short time later, two other vehicle burglaries were reported. Both burglaries took place in Key Largo Trailer Village. Property from both those burglaries was found at the scene of the Atlantic Drive burglary. The two girls were charged with two more counts of burglary and grand theft.

According to Detective David Carey, investigations are continuing into who the girl’s accomplices might be. More arrests are expected.

Stock Island man found dead

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Stock Island – A Stock Island man was found dead in the water Monday morning. Detectives say they do not suspect foul play in his death.

The man, believed to be a 56 year old shrimper from Stock Island, had most likely been in the water for a couple of days when he was found in the vicinity of Front Street, Stock Island. His body was floating between the seawall and a boat called the Cheryl F. The man is believed to be a crew member on that boat.

He was last seen by the Captain of that vessel walking along Front street Friday at 11 a.m. with beer and a bag of laundry. His laundry bag was left at the home of an acquaintance, where he was known to do his laundry when he was in port. His wallet and ID were found in his pocket when his body was pulled out of the water. Because of the condition of the body, however, detectives are still trying to make a positive identification and may use fingerprints taken during the autopsy to confirm who he is. Detectives are also still trying to contact his next of kin.

There were no obvious signs of foul play when his body was examined at the scene. The man’s body was turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy, which is expected to be performed Wednesday.

 

August 4, 2003

Runaway juveniles arrested for stealing car, fleeing from police

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Plantation Key – Two teenage boys were arrested early today (Monday) after they stole a car, then fled from law enforcement officers.

The two boys, age 14 and 15, ran away from the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter in Plantation Key. They stole a 1987 Lincoln Towne Car parked on Orlando Drive. The owner heard the car start, then saw it take off down the street. He called the Sheriff’s Office to report the crime. According to the victim, he was working on the car and left the key in the ignition. He said the door locks do not work on the car.

Deputies in the area immediately began looking for the stolen car. Deputy Joe Moran spotted it southbound near the 82 mile marker of the highway and began trying to stop it using emergency lights and sirens. The car’s driver finally pulled over near the 77 mile marker, but fled from the scene again almost immediately, continuing southbound.

Deputies followed the car until it reached the Long Key Bridge, where the erratic driving and high speeds caused the engine to blow out. Both boys fled from the car. One, 14 year old Freddie Rodriguez, was caught immediately. The other boy, 15 year old Kevin Doyle was seen jumping over the bridge railing. A Sheriff’s Office helicopter and a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat were dispatched to search for the boy. He was found by the Coast Guard clinging to a bridge support. He was also taken into custody. Both boys were charged with grand theft auto and resisting arrest without violence.