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

How to keep your boat and motor safer

 

July 31, 2009

Diver identified

Marathon - The Wellington, Florida man who died while diving Thursday has been identified as 58 year old Bruce Ellwood Cook. An autopsy was performed today by the Monroe County Medical Examiner in an attempt to determine the cause of his death. The preliminary results of that autopsy are not yet available.

Statistics for Lobster two day season beginning to come in

Key Largo: During the two day sport lobster season, District 7 in the upper Keys (Tavernier to Key Largo area) had two boats and two wave runners on patrol and one deputy on land assigned to check boat ramps in the District. Overall, they checked 288 boats on the water and 182 people on shore; 21 Notices to Appear in Court were issued for lobsters over the limit or undersized; seven citations for not having boats properly secured were issued.

Islamorada: Deputies stopped and checked 223 vessels; they issued 3 notices to appear, one for short lobster, one for possession of stone crabs out of season and one for being over the limit. Twenty five warnings were issued, including 22 for being within the 300 foot limit.

Marine related incidents during the two day sport lobster season

Monroe County - In addition to the diving death worked by Sheriff's deputies and detectives in Marathon on Thursday, there were a number of other incidents related to the two day sport lobster season. Here is a synopsis:

Boat motor stolen; boat and motor stolen

A man who lives on Sugarloaf Boulevard called the Sheriff's Office Thursday morning to report his neighbor's boat motor stolen. The man said he last checked on his neighbor's boat on July 26th and the motor was there. He said he was on the property again Thursday and the motor had been taken. The motor was a Mercury 90 HP outboard.

A Marathon man called the Sheriff's Office Thursday to report his boat, motor and trailer were stolen while he was on vacation. He said he left on July 5th, returning on the 28th. He said his boat was parked on the trailer in his yard. It was a 19 foot long Bayliner and had a 125 hp Force engine on it. The trailer, which was homemade, had a temporary tag on it.

Drunk man in stolen car flees from deputies

Islamorada - A drunk man driving a stolen car fled from deputies this morning; the flight ended when he ran into several vehicles and a restaurant.

At 5 a.m., Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes was at the 70 mile marker southbound when he saw a white Toyota Corolla driving erratically northbound. The deputy turned around and got behind the car, watching as the driver crossed the double yellow lines in the middle of the road several times and was tailgating another vehicle in front of him. When the deputy attempted to stop the car using his lights and siren, the driver passed the other vehicle and sped up to 110 miles per hour. His dangerous and erratic driving continued. He forced several vehicles off the road and continuously crossed into oncoming traffic.

The pursuit of the vehicle was discontinued at the 79 mile marker in the hopes he would slow down and drive more safely. Instead, he continued on at a high rate of speed, then drove off the highway and onto the Old Highway as he was approaching the Snake Creek Bridge. On the Old Highway, he struck two boat trailers and continued on to the dead end at the Island Grill restaurant, where he crashed into a wooden fence and ornaments belonging to the restaurant. Aside from some minor injuries from the car's air bag, the driver, 25 year old Joseph Breaux, of Crowley, Louisiana was unhurt.

A breathalyzer test revealed he was intoxicated; the car he was driving turned out to have been stolen overnight from the city of Key West. He was arrested and charged with two counts of fleeing and eluding police, grand theft auto, driving under the influence of alcohol, two counts of DUI with property damage, leaving the scene of an accident, driving with a suspended license with knowledge, speeding, passing in a no passing zone, failure to maintain a single lane and driving in the wrong lane of traffic.

July 30, 2009

Diver dead off shore of Marathon

Marathon - A man spear fishing off shore of Marathon is dead.

According to detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Homicide Unit, the man, who is from Wellington in Palm Beach County, Florida was on board a 23 foot Hydrosport with three friends, spear fishing in approximately 50 to 70 feet of water on the oceanside of Marathon this morning. He and two others were in the water. They were not diving for lobster, but were fishing. One diver became separated from the other two. The single diver surfaced and the operator of the boat pulled anchor to help him  out of the water. The other two divers surfaced at a different location and were waiting to be picked up. One of the pair looked back at his buddy and noticed he was floating face down on the surface. The survivor began waving for help and the commercial boat "Marathon Lady" spotted him and came to help. Crew members called the U.S. Coast Guard for help at about 12:30 p.m., began performing CPR and headed for shore.

The Marathon Lady was met at Captain Hook's Marina in Marathon by paramedics who pronounced one of the diver's dead. His dive buddy refused medical treatment. Investigations are continuing. More information will be provided when it becomes available. Next of kin for the man who died has not yet been notified, so his name will not be released at this time.

July 29, 2009

Man airlifted to Miami after fight on Stock Island

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was airlifted to a Miami hospital after he attacked another man with a knife and the victim fought back.

The incident took place at 11:30 p.m. on 10th Avenue, Stock Island. The victim, 22 year old Michael Fain, called the Sheriff's Office to report he'd been attacked with a knife and his attacker needed medical attention. When deputies arrived on the scene, they found Fain, several witnesses and the suspect, 44 year old Guillermo Monzon. Monzon was on the ground, unconscious from a blow to the head.

According to Fain and the other witnesses, Monzon was intoxicated and broke into Fain's apartment brandishing a knife. Fain fled into a bathroom to get away. Monzon is a neighbor of Fain and another neighbor witnessed the incident and disarmed Monzon. Fain tried to leave the apartment and Monzon punched him. They fought, and Fain managed to get out and go into the street in front of the building.

As he was trying to call the Sheriff's Office for help, he was again attacked by Monzon who was again armed with a knife. Fain picked up a piece of wood to defend himself. As Monzon attacked, Fain him in the head with the wood. He was then able to call for help.

An ambulance responded and paramedics determined Monzon had to be airlifted to Miami for his injuries. The Investigation is continuing.

July 28, 2009

Sheriff says keep your dive gear safe

Monroe County - Sheriff Bob Peryam wants to remind people who plan to go diving for lobster Wednesday and Thursday to be careful to keep your dive or snorkel gear secure.

"In the past, we have experienced an increase in the theft of dive and snorkel gear during the two day sport lobster season," Sheriff Peryam said. "People leave their gear on the dock, or on the seawall or under their stilt house to dry and someone walks off with it. It is a simple crime to prevent - secure your gear right away when you get off the boat."

In addition, there are usually reports during the season of fishing poles and electronics taken from boats overnight. Make sure these valuable items are also secured and not left easily accessible on your vessel.

Otherwise, Sheriff Peryam would like to remind people to follow the rules and have a good time.

"We will have all our boats and jet skis out on the water during the sport lobster season. We'll also have officers at all area boat ramps during the two day season. We have no desire to ruin anyone's day with a criminal charge for short lobsters or a citation for lack of safety equipment," he said. "That's why everyone should know the rules in advance, and make sure they are properly equipped for their days on the water. Make this a safe and legal visit to the Keys and we welcome everyone to our beautiful county and hope you have a terrific time."

July 27, 2009

Two engines, one lower unit taken

Monroe County - Two engines were reported stolen off boats in the lower Keys and one lower unit off a boat in Key Largo over the weekend. This brings the total in the lower Keys to 53 boat motors and lower units since January.

On Friday, an Orlando man who owns a vacation home on Cudjoe Key called the Sheriff's Office because his neighbor, who checks his property weekly, had called him to report his motor was missing from his boat. The engine was a 90 hp Yamaha which was taken sometime during the past week. On Saturday, a Sugarloaf Key man called to report someone had taken his neighbor's 115 hp Yamaha engine. He said his wife noticed it was missing while she was walking their dog.

A Key Largo man called Friday to report the lower unit from his 1991 275 hp Yamaha engine had been taken sometime between 7/19 and 7/24. He said his neighbor noticed it was missing and called him.

July 24, 2009

Traffic stop leads to recovery of stolen boat and trailer

Marathon - A traffic stop early Thursday eventually led to the arrest of a Fort Lauderdale man for stealing a boat and trailer.

Deputy Bradford Colen stopped 20 year old Kevin O'Neal at 2:30 a.m. when he noticed the boat trailer he was towing had no lights on it. Turned out the license tag attached to the trailer was not the right tag and he did not have registration for it either. O'Neal said he knew about the violations, but just wanted to get the boat home. He was issued two citations, one for attaching a tag not assigned and one for having an unregistered vehicle. The trailer and boat - a 1997 17 foot Maverick flats boat with a Yamaha engine - were towed.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, a man called the Sheriff's Office to report his 1997 Maverick Flats boat and trailer stolen from his home on Summerland Key. He was told the boat and trailer were currently in a tow yard and, once he provided proof of ownership, his property was returned to him.

At 1:30 a.m. today, officers stopped O'Neal in his pickup Truck on Little Torch Key. He told officers he bought the boat on Craig's List for $1,100.00.He was arrested, charged with grand theft and dealing in stolen property. He was booked into jail.

Three more lower units missing

Monroe County - Deputies took reports of three more lower units from boat motors taken - two on Cudjoe Key and one in Key Largo.

The two on Cudjoe were taken sometime between June 23rd and July 23rd. The owner who is out of town had a friend check his boat, which was stored on Second Avenue West. The friend both lower units had been taken.

The lower unit taken in Key Largo was on a boat parked on U.S. One for sale, near Woodward Way. He had it for sale on Craig's List and received a call from someone who'd seen the boat and wanted to know where the lower unit was. He then went to check on the boat and called the Sheriff's Office when he realized the lower unit was taken.

This brings the total number of motors and lower units stolen in the lower Keys since January to 51. A county wide number is not available at this time.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff's Office or contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or called in to the Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-346-TIPS.

July 23, 2009

Stock Island man charged with aggravated battery

Stock Island - A 23 year old Stock Island man was arrested Wednesday, charged with ripping the ear half off of a man's head July 11th.

The incident took place July 11th. The victim was a 24 year old man who told deputies he was just making sure a female co-worker got home safely. The victim's ear was partially ripped from his head during the confrontation, which took place at 4:30 a.m. at B-41 9th Avenue. The victim and his friends said they work at a Key West bar. They said they closed the bar and the victim drove their female co-worker home to make sure she got there all right. He said when they arrived at the home, Gregory Collins pulled him from the car by his ear and beat him up.

The victim went home before reporting the incident. His ear was ripped severely, his jaw was swollen and he had other bumps and bruises. He was treated at Lower Keys Hospital, and then transported to Miami due to the severity of his injuries.

Detective Juan Llera investigated the case. He obtained a warrant for the arrest of Collin, who was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated battery. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Boat motor stolen from Ramrod Key

Ramrod Key - A Ramrod Key man reported the motor from his neighbor's boat is missing.

Deputy David Brummer responded to a home on Indies Drive Wednesday and met with the man who said he takes care of the property next door. He said the engine from his neighbor's boat is missing. According to the deputy, engine wires appeared to have been cut and there was gas and oil on the ground. The motor was a 2001 115 hp Yamaha. This brings the total number of motors and lower units taken in the lower Keys to 49 since January.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff's Office or contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or called in to the Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-346-TIPS.

July 22, 2009

Loggerhead turtle found slaughtered

Marathon - A Loggerhead Turtle was found slaughtered in a wooded area in Marathon Tuesday.

Deputy Rosa DiGiovanni was on foot patrol in a wooded area off of Sombrero Beach Road at 9:15 a.m. She found what she describes as a "large" turtle head and, wrapped in a sheet next to it were the top and bottom shells from the turtle. In a white plastic bag, hanging from a tree limb, were the turtle's flippers.

The Turtle Hospital was notified and Susan Schaf and Ryan Butts responded from there. They positively identified the remains as belonging to a Loggerhead Turtle.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff's Office or contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or called in to the Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-346-TIPS.

17 year old arrested for shot gun threats

Key Largo - A 17 year old Key Largo resident was arrested today on four counts of aggravated assault for threatening a group of men with a shotgun.

The men, who said they work for Metro Equipment, told Deputies Edwin Grove and Francisco Gaete they were having lunch on the county right of way, near a fence at 35 bonefish Avenue at Noon. They said 17 year old Bradley Farinelli told them to leave his property. When they didn't leave, they said he went back inside and returned carrying a shot gun. He told them if they didn't leave he would shoot them.

That is when the men called the Sheriff's Office. Farinelli was arrested. He was charged with four counts of aggravated assault and he was booked at the jail.

Four more lower units stolen

Big Pine Key - Four more lower units from boat motors were reported stolen Tuesday, bringing the total since January to 48 motors and lower units stolen between Big Pine Key and Stock Island.

Two lower units were stolen from a boat on Driftwood Street and two more from Poinciana Street. In both cases, residents were not home and a neighbor noticed the lower units missing and called to report it.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff's Office or contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. Tips can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or called in to the Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-346-TIPS.

July 21, 2009

Detectives still need help to solve boat motor thefts

Lower Keys – Four more lower units from boat motors and a complete motor have been reported missing in the past ten days in the Lower Keys. This brings the total reported stolen in the Lower Keys to 44 since January. Detectives say they are continuing to investigate and still need the public's assistance.

All the motors have been reported stolen between Big Pine Key and Stock Island. While it is difficult to tell for sure, detectives believe the thefts may be connected. In most cases, the motors are large ones - 200 HP or more. Many have been taken from unoccupied homes. Recently, two lower units from large Mercury engines were taken from a business on Cudjoe Key; two lower units were taken from a home on Little Torch Key and one complete engine has been reported stolen from a home on Ramrod Key.

Detectives say they need two things from the public:

  1. They need people to make sure they store their boats in secure, well lighted areas. If you are going out of town, let a trusted friend or neighbor know and ask them to keep an eye on your boat. Most of these thefts have been from homes that are unoccupied at the time of the theft.
  2. They need people to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. In the past, arrests have been made in cases like this, but the arrests are almost always made because an alert neighbor saw suspicious activity and reported it immediately.

If you see anything out of the ordinary in your neighborhood - someone you don't know who on your neighbor's property, or who is looking too closely at your neighbor's boat for instance, or a car, truck or van that you don’t recognize that may be casing the area - call 911 right away. Don’t wait. Look closely at the vehicle or person and get a description if possible.

If you have any information about these boat motor thefts, contact the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward if their tip leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

July 20, 2009

Ohio woman dies snorkeling

Sand Key Light - An Ohio woman, snorkeling with her family at Sand Key Light, died Sunday.

According to witness reports, 58 year old Lana Gandert from Edison, Ohio was on a commercial snorkeling trip with Sunset Watersports Sunday morning. With her was her husband and her two sons. At about 10:30 a.m., one of her sons reportedly noticed she wasn't moving in the water and found she was unresponsive. She was pulled into the boat and crew members began administering CPR.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded. She was transported by the Coast Guard - who took over performing CPR - to the Key West Coast Guard Station. Paramedics who met them at the dock pronounced her dead.

Her body was turned over to the Medical Examiner's Office.

July 18, 2009

Detectives investigate shooting in Islamorada

Islamorada - Detectives from the Sheriff's Office Homicide Division are investigating the death of an Islamorada man who was shot by another man in the early morning hours today.

Deputies Daniel Mehler, Patrick Crozier and Sgt. Tom Kiffney responded to Windy Cove Apartments at the 84.7 mile marker of the highway at 4:15 a.m. When they arrived, they found a man - 58 year old Jon Wells - lying on the rear porch of the building with a gun shot wound to the chest; a woman later identified as 51 year old Hope Smith was kneeling over him attempting to revive him. Nearby was 65 year old Daniel Culbertson who admitted to shooting Wells.

Culbertson told the officers he and Smith were sitting on the porch when Wells came up the stairs and began moving toward them. Culbertson said Wells was approaching aggressively. He said he fired one shot toward the ocean in an effort to scare Wells away; when Wells continued moving toward them, he said he shot Wells once in the chest. The gun - a Colt Commander semi-automatic handgun - was recovered at the scene. According to detectives, Wells and Smith have a history of domestic disputes.

No arrests have been made in the case. Investigations are continuing.

Man airlifted after stabbing

Stock Island - A lower Keys man was airlifted to Miami early today, the victim of a stabbing. His girlfriend is in custody, charged with the crime.

According to witnesses, 27 year old Chevas Brown stabbed 41 year old Derrick Jackson during a domestic dispute. The two were reportedly in Key West partying. They left downtown and went to a friend's house on 9th Avenue, Stock Island, where they were going to stay for the rest of the night. Once there, the two argued and, during the course of the argument, Brown stabbed Jackson in the eye and the abdomen.

Jackson left the residence and called the Sheriff's Office for help at 5:15 a.m. He was found by Deputy Scott Ward and Sgt. Tom Walker at 7th Avenue and Cross Street. He was airlifted by the Monroe County Trauma Star helicopter to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for treatment of his injuries. Brown was taken into custody, charged with aggravated battery and she was booked into jail.

Woman badly beaten in bar fight

Big Pine Key - A Big Pine woman was badly beaten by two other women in the parking lot of Coconut's bar on Big Pine Key just before 1 a.m.

Deputy Jon Riggs responded to the bar and found the 25 year old victim already being treated by paramedics. She was reportedly having seizures after being beaten by two other women. The suspects were not present at the scene.

Witnesses in the bar said they saw the three women go outside. A witness outside said he saw them fighting, with the victim on the ground and the two other women punching and kicking her. Deputy Riggs was able to identify the possible suspects by talking with the witnesses. Investigations will continue with arrests pending in the case.

Traffic stop leads to recovery of stolen boat, trailer

Islamorada - A traffic stop early Friday in Islamorada led to the arrest of a Miami man and the recovery of a boat and trailer stolen from Stock Island.

Deputy Barney Sadjak was in the vicinity of the 84 mile marker in Islamorada at 2:15 a.m. when he saw a truck towing a boat on a trailer. The 38 foot Fountain vessel and trailer were lacking the required tie downs, so he stopped the truck and found Miami resident David Blasco, 44, behind the wheel. A check of Blasco's name revealed his license was indefinitely suspended. Further investigation revealed the license tag on the truck was stolen from Key West and the boat and trailer had been stolen from the King's Pointe Marina on Stock Island. A security guard on that property found a padlocked gate had been forced open to gain access to the boat and trailer.

In the back of the truck, deputies found bolt cutters and other tools commonly used to commit the crime of burglary.

Blasco was arrested. He was charged with burglary, possession of burglary tools, two counts of grand theft, theft, driving with his license suspended and attaching a tag not assigned to a vehicle. He was booked into jail.

July 15, 2009

Search Warrant results in Stock Island man's arrest

Stock Island - A search warrant, served by Narcotics Detectives with the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division, resulted in the arrest of a Stock Island man on drug charges today.

Detectives served the warrant at 6:30 a.m. at a home on 3rd Avenue. Inside, they found 30 year old Jose Rivera. Once the warrant was served, Rivera showed detectives his bedroom closet. In the closet, they found five marijuana plants growing along with grow lamps and fans set up to facilitate their growth. Two more plants were found growing in the back yard and 27 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were also found in the room.

Rivera also assisted detectives in the recovery of several vials of anabolic steroids and syringes he kept in his room. He said all the drugs that were seized were for his personal use.

Rivera was charged with possession of a controlled substance, cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

Lower Keys road patrol deputies assisted with service of the search warrant.

July 14, 2009

15 year old charged with firing rifle into dwelling

Key Largo - A Key Largo teen was arrested today after he shot a .22 rifle, penetrating a nearby home with the bullet.

Deputies responded to a home on 3rd Court in Key Largo after a woman reported hearing a gunshot and finding a hole through the wall of her home. She said her two young daughters, aged 10 and 12, were home with her at the time. She said she put them in a back room, then went outside. She said she heard another gun shot, but couldn't see anyone with a gun. That is when she called 911 for help.

Deputies canvassing the neighborhood found 15 year old William Davis who initially said he was shooting his BB gun. He later admitted to finding his grandfather's .22 rifle. He said he was bored, so he decided to pull the trigger, not knowing if it was loaded. He said he was aiming at a stop sign at the corner of Buttonwood Avenue and Kay Drive. He said it was loaded, so he fired it two more times after that. Investigations showed the bullet penetrated the stop sign, then went through the outer wall of the victim's house, and also penetrated an interior wall. The bullet was recovered from inside the home.

Davis was arrested. He was charged with discharging a firearm in public and throwing a deadly missile into a dwelling.

"This could have easily have ended in tragedy. Thank goodness it didn't," said Sheriff Bob Peryam. "This is precisely why people with guns in their homes should secure them with gun locks, or in gun lockers, and they should be stored separately from their ammunition. Guns should certainly never be left around a house loaded - particularly when there are young people around."

He added that all young people should be educated about gun safety and about the dangers of guns. Unless you are legally hunting, shooting a gun outside when not at a gun range is always dangerous. Remember: even when you shoot a gun straight up in the air, the bullet has to come down somewhere and can land with enough force to kill someone it hits.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office has free gun locks they would be happy to deliver to anyone who wants one in Monroe County. To obtain a free gun lock, contact the Sheriff's Community Relations Division at 305-292-7116 or email Director Becky Herrin at beckyherrin@keysso.net.

July 13, 2009

Call about suspicious activity results in arrest

Key Largo - A call from a convenience store clerk about suspicious activity resulted in the arrest of a man for grand theft auto and theft.

At about 4 a.m. today, Deputy Michael Sielicki responded to a Key Largo convenience store to reports of a man in a car acting suspiciously. The clerk at the store told the deputy he saw a man driving a small red car, maybe a Hyundai, car who stopped in the parking lot of the store for about 15 minuets, then pull out and drive to a construction site in front of John Pennekamp State Park. At the construction site, the clerk saw the man put something in the trunk of the car. He drove southbound past the store afterward with the trunk open and something sticking out of it.

Deputy Sielicki began driving southbound looking for a car fitting that description. He spotted it at the 100 mile marker. The car had what looked like a brand new power washer hanging out of the trunk.

The deputy stopped the car at the corner of Holiday Boulevard and Oleander Road. The driver was identified as 44 year old Antonio Larzo Garcia of Key Largo. The car was registered to a Miami woman. Garcia said the car belonged to his girlfriend. The steering wheel had been cut open and the airbag was missing.

Deputy Sielicki called the car's owner. She said he has an injunction against Garcia, her ex-boyfriend. She said he took the car without her permission while she was in the hospital.

Garcia was arrested. He was charged with grand theft, grand theft auto and violation of an injunction. He was booked into jail.

July 12, 2009

Stock Island man injured in fight

Stock Island - A Stock Island man who said he was making sure a female co-worker got home safely was badly beaten by her boyfriend early Saturday.

Investigations are continuing, but according to reports by Deputy Michael Claudy, the 24 year old victim's ear was partially ripped from his head during the confrontation, which took place at 4:30 a.m. Saturday. The victim and his friends said they work at a Key West bar. They said they closed the bar and the victim drove their female co-worker home to make sure she got there all right. He said when they arrived at the home - which he says is somewhere on Stock Island - her boyfriend pulled him from the car by his ear and beat him up.

The victim went home before reporting the incident. His ear was ripped severely, his jaw was swollen and he had other bumps and bruises. He was treated at Lower Keys Hospital, where a doctor said he'd need to be transported to Miami for surgery to reattach his ear.

Investigations are continuing.

Detectives need help to solve boat motor thefts

Lower Keys - Detectives in the Lower Keys say they are investigating multiple boat motor thefts and need the public's assistance.

Between January and July, 39 boat motors and lower units from boat motors have been stolen in the Lower Keys, between Big Pine Key and Stock Island. While it is difficult to tell for sure, detectives believe many of the thefts may be connected. In most cases, the motors are large ones - 200 HP or more. Many have been taken from unoccupied homes.

Detectives say they need two things from the public:

1. They need people to make sure they store their boats in secure, well lighted areas.
2. They need people to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. In the past, arrests have been made in cases like this one, but the arrests are almost always made because an alert neighbor saw suspicious activity and reported it.

If you see anything you consider to be out of the ordinary or suspicious happening in your neighborhood - someone you don't know who on your neighbor's property, or looking too closely at your neighbor's boat for instance - call 911 immediately. If you have any information about these boat motor thefts, contact the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward if their tip leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

July 9, 2009

Man charged with stealing, attempting to pawn nail guns

Big Pine Key - Deputies arrested a Fort Myers man Wednesday after he stole two nail guns and tried to pawn them on Big Pine Key.

A clerk at Overseas Lumber saw 19 year old Austin Singletary looking at the nail guns. After he left, she noticed two of them were missing.

As Deputy Joshua Pool was speaking with the manager of Overseas Lumber, he received a call from a local pawn shop that someone was there with two new nail guns. Deputies responded to the pawn shop and found Singletary there with the stolen property.

When he was confronted with his crime, he admitted to taking the nail guns. In fact, a total of four stolen nail guns were recovered.

Singletary was charged with theft and dealing with stolen property. He was booked into jail.

July 7, 2009

Coral Springs man dies while on snorkeling trip

Key Largo - A Coral Springs man died while on a snorkeling trip off shore of John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo Monday.

29 year old Daniel Goepel was on a snorkeling trip on board the commercial vessel "Sundance". He was snorkeling during the course of the trip, but climbed on board the boat and took off his gear. He returned to the water a short time later and was swimming in the water.

Two crew members from the commercial vessel "Dolphin", anchored nearby, saw him floating on top of the water and pulled him out at about 2:15 p.m. He was unresponsive but they told Deputy John Perez they detected a pulse and began giving him rescue breaths. When they could no longer detect a pulse, they said they began C. P. R.

The Dolphin brought Goepel back in to the dock at Pennekamp Park where paramedics pronounced him dead. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

July 3, 2009

Marathon man arrested for gun threats

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested Thursday afternoon, charged with pointing a gun at three people on 15th Street in Marathon.

When Deputy Rosa DiGiovanni arrived on 15th Street at 2:30 p.m., she found the three victims still there. They pointed down the street at a black pickup truck and told her the driver of the truck had just pointed a handgun at them and threatened to shoot them. She stopped the truck, but the driver refused to comply with her commands to put his hands where she could see them. As other officers arrived on the scene to back her up, Deputy DiGiovanni pulled 42 year old Michael Sears out of the truck and took him into custody.

In the center console of the truck she found a fully loaded handgun.

The victims - including a father and his 13 year old son - said they were walking down 15th Street when the truck turned a corner recklessly, almost hitting them. The father yelled at the truck's driver - Sears - telling him to slow down. That is when Sears pulled out the gun.

Sears was charged with aggravated assault and improper exhibition of a firearm and he was booked into jail.

Three Naples teens charged with car burglaries

Islamorada - Three Naples teens are accused of committing vehicle burglaries in the area of Lower Matecumbe Key in June.

Detective Jason Madnick received a call June 15th from an investigator from the Collier County Sheriff's Office. He said he had information - and recovered property - from crimes committed in Monroe County the week before. One of the suspect's fathers had called the Collier County Sheriff's Office to report his son had been involved in criminal activity while visiting the Keys.

Further investigation revealed the three Naples teens had burglarized vehicles in the vicinity of El Capitan Drive. The crimes had taken place between the evening of the 8th and the morning of the 9th of June. Some of the crimes had already been reported to the Sheriff's Office and some had not. Property recovered included two GPS units, an XM Radio, an Ipod and a bottle of prescription medication.

Detective Madnick traveled to Naples where he interviewed 15 year old Zachary Pettit. Pettit admitted to entering an estimated 20 to 25 cars while visiting the Keys with his two friends, 14 year old Alexander May and 16 year old Carl Chase. He also admitted to stealing a golf cart from a home on Nautilus Drive. A search of Sheriff's Office computers revealed several auto burglaries reported in that area on June 9th; the recovered property was traced back to several more auto burglaries which had not been reported. When the owners of the stolen property were contacted, they admitted to being the victims of crimes but not reporting them at the time. The golf cart had been reported stolen on the 9th and had been recovered the same day.

Pettit has been charged with eight counts of burglary and eight counts of theft; warrants have been issued for May and Chase, charging them with being accessories after the fact to those crimes.

Teen charged with burglary

Marathon - A 14 year old Marathon boy was arrested this week, charged with burglarizing his neighbor's home.

The victim began noticing signs someone was entering her home in September of 2008. She told Detective Harry Boyden she found things out of place and moved around on several occasions. She also noticed small things missing, including money and a gold ring. She found a picture on her digital camera with a photo she did not take - the photo was sexual in nature. She called the Sheriff's Office to make a report of the strange occurrences. She said she also changed the locks on her house and installed a video camera in an attempt to either prevent the suspect from entering or catch him on tape.

On November 28th, 2008 she turned the video system on and left for work. When she returned later that night, she noticed some things had been moved around in the house. She viewed the video tape and saw her 14 year old neighbor, John Keller, climb through her kitchen window. On the tape, Keller is seen going through her bedroom and her kitchen cabinets, and accessing her computer. She called to report the incident to the Sheriff's Office, but at the time did not wish to press charges.

On June 4th of this year, she found a note on her door inviting her to have a sexual encounter the following night and giving her specific instructions about how the encounter should go. The following evening, the victim activated her video system again and went to work. The video surveillance system again captures Keller entering the home through the kitchen window. It shows him rummaging around various areas of the house, including her bedroom, and going through her belongings.

On June 8th, the victim called the Sheriff's Office again to report the crimes. This time, she expressed her desire to press charges against Keller. Detective Boyden viewed the video tapes, then interviewed Keller, confronting him with the video evidence of his crimes. Keller admitted to entering the home.

Keller was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary. He was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Marathon man arrested for fleeing police

Marathon - A Marathon man caught driving with a suspended license was arrested after he fled from deputies.

Deputy Monica Young was in her patrol car near the intersection of 55th Street and U.S. One when she and her training officer noticed a brown colored Ford Ranger truck. Driving it was 28 year old Notorious Jackson, known to have a suspended driver's license. A check through her in car computer confirmed the suspended license and revealed an outstanding warrant out of Miami-Dade County for failure to pay child support.

Jackson noticed the patrol car behind him and suddenly changed lanes, pulling into a crowded gas station on the corner of the intersection. He fled through the gas pump area, down a small paved ramp into the parking lot of K-Mart Plaza in Marathon. With the deputy following, Jackson continued to flee through the parking lot, then back onto northbound U.S. One. He drove up onto a curb and into another parking area where a second Sheriff's Office patrol vehicle pulled in behind him.

Jackson and his passenger were apprehended as they jumped from the pickup truck and tried to flee on foot.

Two plastic bags with marijuana inside were found in Jackson's pocket. He was placed under arrest. He was charged with driving with license suspended, fleeing from police, possession of marijuana and with the outstanding out of county warrant. He was booked into jail.

July 2, 2009

Search Warrant leads to arrests

Marathon - A search warrant resulted in three arrests Wednesday In Marathon.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office Special Investigation's Division Narcotics unit, assisted by the Sheriff's K-9 Unit and the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) executed a search warrant at 11335 1st Avenue Ocean. Inside , the SWAT team and Detectives found three people. 20 year old Michael Blackshire, of Homestead, 41 year old Virginia Kuhn and 38 year old Jesse Privett of Marathon were all arrested after cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia were found inside.

All three were charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Blackshire also was arrested for an outstanding warrant for failure to pay child support.

Detectives recovered 26 individual plastic bags with crack cocaine inside, packaged as if for sale; marijuana cigarettes in several different locations, powdered cocaine, white powder suspected to be a cutting agent and drug paraphernalia.

All three subjects were transported to the Monroe County Detention Center.

Detectives ask for help with burglary

Stock Island - Sheriff's detectives say they need information about a burglary which took place in the Stock Island neighborhood of Key Haven in June.

The home, on Arbutus Drive, was burglarized sometime between June 19th and the 21st. Suspects forced their way in and took a safe and a small flat screen television. Also missing were several items of jewelry, a large amount of foreign currency, a .38 caliber handgun, a 12 gauge shotgun and a distinctive antique cane with a gold head on one end.

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, 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 anonymously at www.tipsubmit.com.

July 1, 2009

Man charged with molesting young girl

Stock Island - A man now living in West Virginia was arrested and charged with molesting a young girl when he lived in the lower Keys.

Detective Kim Trullender with the Sheriff's Crimes Against Women and Children's Unit, worked the case with Key West Police Detectives. According to reports by Detective Trullender, the girl, who is now in her teens, says she was molested between the ages of 8 and 10 when she lived with a parent on Stock Island.

She said 40 year old Richard Bowen lived in the trailer with them. Her parent would leave her with Bowen on occasion. It was during these times that Bowen molested her. She says he fondled her and made her fondle him as well. She said at one point he threatened to stab her if she told anyone.

A warrant was obtained for Bowen's arrest. On Tuesday he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center on charges if sexual battery on a child under 12 and lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 12.