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

 

June 29, 2009

Domestic dispute leads to marijuana cultivation arrest

Cudjoe Key - A domestic dispute led to the arrest of a Cudjoe Key man this morning for cultivation of marijuana.

Deputies responded to Tarzan's Tree Service at 7:30 a.m. today to reports of a domestic dispute. When they arrived, 42 year old Nicholas Downs - the owner of the business - met them and said his wife, Sandra, was inside. He told them he'd called because she'd taken his wallet and his keys and wouldn't return them. He said they'd been fighting and he'd been staying at the business for a couple of days.

When the deputies spoke with his wife, who was in the business office, she told them her husband had hidden "grow" rooms in the building where he'd been growing marijuana.

Three such hidden rooms were found in the business. All appeared to be equipped for growing the illegal substance, including florescent lights, dehumidifiers and special air ducts, among other growing equipment. While no plants were growing in the rooms at the time, there were trace amounts of marijuana found during the investigation.

Nicholas Downs was placed under arrest, charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia and he was booked into jail.

June 26, 2009

Coral Gables man reports car jacking

Marathon - A Coral Gables man flagged down deputies early today in Marathon, and reported being carjacked and kidnapped.

The victim told Deputy Trevor Wirth he was in Miami at a gas station when the incident occurred at 8:45 p.m. He said a man pointed a gun at him and told him to "drive". He said they drove his 1997 van to a location in the vicinity of Kendall Drive and Krome Avenue, where they picked up two other males and one female. He said at that point they took over driving and put a blindfold on him.

He was reportedly dropped off in Marathon just before he flagged down Deputy Wirth at 5 a.m. He said the suspects threw him on the ground and kicked him in the stomach. He initially asked deputies for medical assistance and he was taken to Fishermen's Hospital. His van was recovered later on 31st Street.

Once at the hospital, he refused medical attention and walked out. He told officers he did not want to press charges against anyone and just said he wanted a report or some kind of documentation so he could prove to his wife all of it happened. He said he just wanted to get his van and return home to Miami.

Detectives are investigating.

Man's identity, cause of death released

Islamorada - Detectives say the Islamorada man who was found dead in his trailer Monday died of a self-inflicted knife wound in his chest.

55 year old Lauerent Tetreault was found dead Monday morning after a maintenance man noticed a foul odor and lots of flies around the trailer, located at Lot 57, Seabreeze Trailer Park. First responders had to break in through a sliding glass door that was locked from the inside. Tetreault was found in a bedroom of the residence. He had a knife in his chest, just below the left nipple.

Detective Terry Smith said he found a day planner with a handwritten note indicating Tetreault planned to commit suicide. All the windows were secured from the inside, and the only door - a sliding glass door which had to be broken in order for emergency workers to enter - was locked from the inside and could not be locked or unlocked from the outside.

An autopsy confirmed Tetreault died of a single knife would in the chest.

June 23, 2009

Death doesn't appear to be foul play

Islamorada  - Detectives say they do not suspect foul play in connection with the death of a man found in an Islamorada trailer Monday morning.

An autopsy is not complete, and the man's fingerprints are being compared to prints on file in an effort to make a positive identification of the body. Although Detective Terry Smith says he thinks he knows who the dead man is, he cannot be positive at this point due to the condition of the body when it was found. Until he has a positive identification, the detective is not comfortable talking in detail about the scene, or releasing more details about the cause and manner of death.

He said it can take several days to get the results of a fingerprint comparison. When more information is available, a follow up press release will be issued. Investigations are continuing.

Stock Island man charged with burglary

Rockland Key - A Stock Island man was arrested after he attempted to retrieve his truck from a towing company after hours.

A woman who lives on the property of Anchor Towing on Rockland Key called the Sheriff's Office just before midnight after she caught 25 year old Paul Burns trying to cut the lock on the front gate.

As deputies were responding, Burns fled the area. He returned a short time later and continued his attempts to cut the lock and gain entrance to the tow yard. The witness again heard him and called 911 a second time. Deputy Vicki Lockwood-Fleck arrived and Burns ran again, fleeing across the highway. He was carrying bold cutters which he threw into the bushes as the deputy caught up with him. He was placed under arrest.

On the way to jail, Burns said he parked his truck at Old City Hall in Key West and it was towed. He said he tried to get it back during the day, but didn't have enough money.

Burns was charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools. He was booked into jail.

June 22, 2009

Detectives investigate death

Islamorada - Detectives are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in a trailer in Islamorada today.

Detective Terry Smith says wounds on the body indicate the death was not by natural causes.

A caretaker at Sea Breeze Trailer Park smelled an odor coming from the trailer and called the Sheriff's Office at 11:30 a.m. When deputies arrived, they found the white male dead in the trailer. Detective Smith said he believes he knows who the man is, but needs to do more work to confirm the identification.

Detective Smith declined to be more specific about the nature of the man's wounds, or about the possible manner of his death. He is continuing to investigate and an autopsy will be done in an attempt to determine the cause of the man's death.

Fire at Key Largo home

Key Largo - A Key Largo home caught fire today. The Fire Marshall's Office is investigating.

Deputy Robert Dosh arrived on the scene to find flames already coming out of the windows and through the roof. He evacuated neighbors as a precaution. Deputy Dosh spoke with a witness who told him he'd seen three Hispanic males in a brown van at the residence the day before. He said he didn't recognize them.

According to Deputy Dosh's report, the Fire Marshall arrived and, upon begriming his investigation, said he did fine some evidence the fire could be caused by arson. His investigation in continuing.

June 21, 2009

Man charged with fleeing, child cruelty

Tavernier - A man who fled from deputies at a high rate of speed with young teens in the car was arrested Saturday evening.

Deputy Jason Keith was running radar at the 92 mile marker on Burton Drive  at 7:20 p.m. when 21 year old Timothy Gall of Ohio sped by him, traveling 38 miles per hour in a 25 mile per hour zone. The deputy was out of his patrol car and made hand gestures, directing Gall to pull over. Instead, Gall sped up.

Deputy Keith jumped into his vehicle and followed Gall, who turned southbound on U.S. One. Gall continued driving at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out of traffic in a dangerous manner; the deputy noted on several occasions it appeared he was  going to lose control.

Gall finally pulled over at the south end of the Tavernier Creek Bridge. He had two 15 year olds and a 14 year old in the car with him. He was charged with fleeing and eluding police and child cruelty and he was taken to jail. The three kids were turned over to responsible adults.

Man charged with burglary on Sugarloaf Key

Sugarloaf Key - Deputies responded to a home on Sugarloaf Key to reports of a man inside who didn't belong there.

A realtor was going to show the house Saturday morning; when she showed up, she found evidence someone had broken in. She called the caretaker of the residence and confirmed no one should be there. As she was walking back to her car, a man came out with a hammer in his hand demanding to know who she was. She got back in her car, drove away from the home and called the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies David Brummer, David Cruz and Sgt. Lionel Vargas responded; they entered the house and found 27 year old Stephen Trask of Minnesota. Trask was arrested and charged with burglary and criminal mischief. He was taken to jail.

Man arrested after fight in the middle of U.S. One

Ramrod Key - An Ocala man was arrested Saturday night after a struggle with a deputy in the middle of the highway.

Deputy Jon Riggs was on patrol at 11 p.m. when he found a blue Nissan parked in the middle of the highway at the 28 mile marker. It was running and the driver was sitting in the front seat, passed out.

Deputy Riggs woke 49 year old Miguel Jerez; when he ordered him out of the car, Jerez refused to get out - repeatedly. When the deputy reached into the car, Jerez began to struggle with him. Deputy Riggs removed Jerez from the car and tried to handcuff him. Jerez hid one of his arms under his body and continued to struggle with the deputy in the middle of the highway.

Deputy Riggs called for back up. He said as he was struggling with Jerez, a number of passing cars almost hit them. A passing motorist stopped to help Deputy Riggs; as they were getting control of the suspect, a speeding Corvette almost hit them. Two more passing motorists stopped and they finally were able to subdue Jerez.

Jerez was arrested; he was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and he was taken to jail.

June 20, 2009

Man found dead on boat

Key West - A man was found dead on board a boat off shore of Key West Friday afternoon.

Detective Kim Trullender says the white male, believed to be in his 50s, had been dead for some time. There were no obvious signs of foul play in evidence on his body; an autopsy will be done in an attempt to determine the cause of his death. Detectives have made a tentative identification which has yet to be confirmed. The man's name will not be released until his identity can be confirmed and until his next of kin have been notified.

It appears the man lived on board the boat he was found on, which was moored in the vicinity of Cow Key Channel, on the bayside. Another man who lives an a nearby boat reported finding him dead.

Detectives are investigating.

June 18, 2009

Inmate rushed to the hospital

Stock Island - An inmate was rushed to the hospital today after he was found submerged in water while taking a bath.

According to initial reports, 26 year old Clayton Link - who was booked into jail yesterday for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute - was in the Sick Bay Unit of the main detention facility when the incident occurred. He had reportedly been transported to that unit after throwing up, and had requested a bath to clean himself up; he was in a tub in the private restroom facility in Sick Bay. The officer in the Unit heard water running for longer than she thought necessary and opened the door to check on him. The officer found Link submerged in the water.

He was pulled from the tub, medical personnel were notified immediately and CPR was begun immediately as well; he was transported by ambulance to Lower Keys Hospital then flown to Baptist Hospital in Miami where he remains in critical condition. Detectives will be conducting an investigation of the circumstances.

Fire at Marathon laundry

Click here to see photos of the fire, taken by Sgt. Dennis Cain

Marathon - Deputies and firefighters responded to a fire at the Maytag Coin Laundry in Marathon in the early morning hours today.

When deputies arrived, they found smoke billowing from the building, located on 60th Street in Marathon. Due to the decreased visibility on the highway, they stopped northbound and southbound traffic. Two apartments adjoining the building were evacuated and officers also turned off large propane tanks on the property.

When firefighters arrived, they had to run fire hoses across the highway to a fire hydrant, so traffic continued to be impeded until the fire was extinguished. While firefighters were battling the flames, the owner of the business arrived and told deputies her dog "Willie" was inside the building, in a dog kennel. Firefighters entered the building and pulled the dog out of the fire. He was given oxygen and was transported in a patrol car to the Marathon Veterinary Clinic. He was treated for his injuries and, at last report, was doing well.

The Fire Marshall's Office will be investigating the cause of the blaze.

Search warrant results in two arrests

seized marijuana

Marijuana seized at a Tavernier home during search warrant

Tavernier - Sheriff's Special Investigations detectives a son and his father after serving a search warrant at their Tavernier home Wednesday.

The search warrant was served at 140 Pacific Avenue at 7 p.m. Once inside, 26 year old Clayton Link admitted to having illegal substances and pointed out their location to detectives. Detectives found 16.5 ounces of marijuana and two pounds of Hash Oil in Link's bedroom, along with several pills identified as Oxycontin and Alprazolam. Also found were pipes and bongs used to smoke marijuana and a scale used to weight it; $400.00 in cash was also seized as possible drug proceeds.

A small amount of marijuana was also found in the room of Brown Link, Clayton Link's father.

Clayton Link was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of drug paraphernalia; Brown Link was charged with possession of marijuana. Both men were booked into jail.

Traffic stop leads to drug arrest

Islamorada - Deputies stopped a vehicle for speeding early today, arresting the driver when they found a large amount of marijuana in the vehicle.

Sgt. Lee Cowart and Deputy Daniel Mehler were at the 80.5 mile marker of the highway at 3:30 a.m. when a black Dodge Crossover passed by at 62 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. The vehicle also had a tail light out. The officers conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. When the driver, 23 year old Renaldo George of Sunrise, Florida rolled down his window, the officers detected the odor of marijuana coming from inside. The four occupants of the vehicle said they had been smoking marijuana earlier in the evening.

George consented to a search of the vehicle; in the rear compartment deputies found 337 grams of marijuana in plastic bags wrapped in a towel. George admitted the drugs were his. He was charged with possession of marijuana and he was booked into jail.

Pest Control employee charged with stealing from two homes

Key Largo - A man who sprays homes for a pest control company was arrested after he stole valuable items from two of the homes he was treating for pests.

The thefts took place on June 11th from a home on North End Road and another on Abaco Road. The victims are a mother and daughter who called to report that 29 year old Justin Adrulot of Rock Harbor had taken jewelry and gold coins from their homes. When the two victims confronted Adrulot, he admitted to the thefts and agreed to return the items he stole. The victims reported the thefts to the Sheriff's Office. Detective Patricia Garcia was assigned to investigate.

On Wednesday, as Adrulot was on his way to return some of the stolen items, detectives pulled him over in his truck. He had some of the jewelry with him that he planned to return; other items he said he pawned at a pawn shop in Miami.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of grand theft. He was booked into jail.

June 16, 2009

FWC, Sheriff's Office investigate live rock theft

Islamorada - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Sheriff's Office are investigating the theft of a million dollars worth of live rock from an aqua farm offshore of Islamorada.

The victim, 51 year old Neal Novak, called to report the theft in May. He told investigators from both agencies he holds a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) permit and a permit from the U.S. Department of Commerce to farm live rock in the waters off of Alligator Reef. The permit encompasses a site approximately one acre in size.

Novak said he placed approximately 300,000 pounds of rock on the site in 2005. He said because live rock takes from 3 - 5 years to mature, he had not returned to the site until May of this year.When he returned, he found someone had removed the majority of the live rock from the site without his permission.

According to the victim, live rock takes special equipment to harvest and store, including a specially designed boat equipped with live wells and able to take the weight of the rock.

Investigators believe someone may have seen this crime being perpetrated. Anyone with information about this case should contact FWC, 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.

Stock Island man charged with burglary

Key Largo - A Stock Island man is in jail, charged with burglarizing a home in Key Largo.

The victims told Deputy Larry O'Neill they returned to their Plantation Road home around 10:15 a.m. Monday. As they walked up to their door, they heard a crash and a man they know as 56 year old Antonio Gonzalez came running out their door and fled up the street. Evidence on the scene indicated Gonzalez used some type of prying instrument to force open the door. Inside, it appeared Gonzalez had attempted to take a stereo.

Gonzalez was found on board a boat behind a house not far away. He was placed under arrest, charged with burglary and grand theft. He was booked into jail.

June 15, 2009

Nine vehicles burgled on Little Torch Key

Little Torch Key - Sheriff's deputies took reports Sunday of nine vehicles burglarized on Little Torch Key overnight.

In all nine instances, the cars were parked in front of residences and were left unlocked. Suspects entered the cars, rummaging around inside going through glove boxes and center consoles. In only two of the instances was anything taken - an Ipod was taken from one car, and a 24 inch long wooden "billy club" was taken from another.

Burglaries took place on Bayview Drive, Sea Whip Street, Astrangia Avenue, Coral Shores Road and West Shore Drive.

Just a reminder: any one of these crimes could have been averted if the vehicle owners had simply locked their cars. Most vehicle burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Burglars of this type do not want to attract attention and they look specifically for easy targets. It appears that at one home on West Shore Drive, the suspects were scared away when a dog began barking and a motion sensor light came on. These, along with locking the car doors, are excellent deterrents to crime.

Anyone with information about these cases 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.

Man attacked, robbed on Stock Island

Stock Island - A 25 year old Stock Island man reported being attacked and robbed in the early morning hours Saturday.

He flagged down Sgt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff at 2 a.m. on Cross Street. He told her three men had just run up behind him, yelling at him to "get on the ground" or they would shoot him. He said before he could get on the ground they hit him in the head with an unknown object. They took his wallet and fled from the area on foot.

He described the men as Hispanic, in their 30s; he said one was wearing a white t-shirt and plaid shorts. He could give no further description but said he would recognize them if he saw them again. The victim had a visible wound on his forehead and was transported to the hospital for treatment of his injury.

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.

Man charged with aggravated battery, criminal mischief

Ramrod Key - A Summerland Key man stabbed a man he works with and is roommates with early Saturday. He was later arrested for attempting to break the window of a car with a rock and was charged with the aggravated battery as well.

Deputy Scott Ward responded to West Indies Drive on Summerland Key to reports a man was walking down the road bleeding. He found the victim, who had a gash on his cheek. He was bleeding profusely. He told the deputy "Rolando" stabbed him. Further investigation revealed "Rolando" is a man the victim works with and rooms with on St. Vincent Street on Summerland Key. The victim was transported to Fishermen's Hospital for treatment of his injury.

Several hours later, deputies responded to reports a man was caught trying to break the window of a car parked at Pine Channel Bridge. The victim said he saw a man later identified as 20 year old Rolando Ailon hitting his vehicle's window with a rock. The victim activated his car alarm in an effort to stop the attack on his vehicle; Ailon then ran with the victim pursuing him.

The victim held Ailon at the scene until officers arrived. He was placed under arrest for criminal mischief, having caused an estimated $2,500.00 damage to the car. Once deputies determined he was the same man they were looking for in connection with the stabbing, he was additionally charged with aggravated battery. He was booked into jail.

June 12, 2009

Operation Eagle Claw nets Marijuana growers

Marijuana grow house

A Crime Stoppers tip led detectives to a Ramrod Key home, where this Marijuana was found growing inside.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office participated in a state-wide Marijuana eradication operation this week. The Sheriff's Special Investigation's Division Narcotics unit, assisted by the U.S. Marshal's Service, Reserve Deputies, and HIDTA Monroe County took part in the operation, which was coordinated by the South Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) group.

Monroe County detectives busted two grow operations, one in Key Largo and one on Ramrod Key. A Crime Stoppers Tip was instrumental in the Ramrod Key case. The tipster in the case will receive a substantial cash reward.

In Key Largo early this morning, acting on a tip, detectives knocked on the door of 32 Marlin Avenue in Key Largo. They spoke with resident Rodney Dean Miller, 39. He refused them entry to his home, so a search warrant was obtained. Inside, they found two rooms set up to grow marijuana, with grow lights, timers, extra air conditioners, fertilizer, a watering system and a carbon dioxide tank. They recovered 9 pounds of marijuana.

Miller was charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of the illegal substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On Wednesday afternoon, acting on a Crime Stoppers tip, detectives went to 27406 Martinique Lane on Ramrod Key. Once there, detectives found items in plain view on the property indicating Marijuana was being cultivated there. Investigators did not know who the tenant was, but they found a truck on the property and a vessel in the back yard and ran a check on both vehicle's identification numbers.  The numbers returned to a 54 year old man named David Mann who lives in Connecticut. When they contacted Mann, he told them he does not own a truck or a boat nor does he live in the Florida Keys. 
   
While detectives were on the scene, the tenant of the house returned to the property. He identified himself as David Mann with a Florida drivers license in that name. As they continued to interview him, he became visibly nervous and provided detectives with a second name - David Lasher, 61 years of age. Upon speaking further with the real David Mann, detectives discovered Mann had his wallet stolen 30 years ago. It appears Lasher may have been using Mann's identity all that time. Investigations into his activities are continuing.

Lasher was arrested and charged with identity theft. Federal authorities were notified of the case. They are also investigating and may be bringing federal charges against him.

A search warrant was obtained for the house and Investigators found a indoor marijuana growing operation. They recovered 31 pre-packaged bags of marijuana (3.5 lbs), 47 Marijuana plants, with each plant having a street value of $1,000.00. They seized approximately $7,628.00 in cash, a firearm, a 2001 Dodge truck, an 18 foot Donzi vessel, and numerous pieces of equipment related to the grow operation.

Det. Mimosa continues to investigate David Lasher and his activities in past years.  If anyone has any information regarding this subject they should call Det. Diane Mimosa at 305-745-3184 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.

June 9, 2009

18 year old charged with having sex with young girl

Marathon – An 18 year old Marathon man has been arrested by Sheriff’s detectives, charged with having sexual relations with a 13 year old girl at least 12 times.

The victim told Detective Linda Mixon she and Leonard Leal had sex at least 12 times between March and May of this year. A 13 year old is not legally able to consent to sex with an adult under Florida Law.  At least 8 times, she said they had sexual relations at his home on 26th Street, Oceanside, in Marathon; at least four times she said they had sexual relations in his truck.

A search warrant was served at Leal’s home. While detectives were serving the search warrant, Leal bragged about having sex with underage girls. He said he would convince them to “fall in love” with him and “trust” him and he would then cheat on them and “break up” with them. He said he wanted them to feel “played”.

Leal was booked into jail early today, charged with 12 counts of having sexual relations with an underage girl. Bond is set at $60,000.00.

Detective Mixon is continuing her investigations into Leal’s activities. She would like to urge anyone with more information about this case to call her at 305-289-2410 or  to call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to the Crime Stoppers hot line may remain anonymous and become eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to a felony arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

More charges against 18 year old Marathon man

Marathon – The 18 year old Marathon man charged with having sex with a 13 year old girl faces more charges of having sex with minors.

Detective Linda Mixon has also charged Leonard Leal with having sexual relations with a 15 year old Key West girl, a 14 year old Key West girl and a Marathon girl who was 12 years old the first time she says she had sexual relations with him.

Several witnesses also reported seeing a video on Leal’s computer depicting him having sex with the 14 year old from Key West. The victim said she knew he was videotaping her using a camera hooked up to his computer, but she said he assured her he destroyed the video afterward.

Leal faces a total of 21 counts of having sex with underage girls; he is also charged with promoting a sexual performance by a child and with possession of child pornography. According to Detective Mixon, he told one of the victims she needed to keep their relationship on the “down-low” because she was too young for him to have sex with and he “could go to jail”.

Detective Mixon is continuing her investigations into Leal’s activities. She would like to urge anyone with more information about this case to call her at 305-289-2410 or  to call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to the Crime Stoppers hot line may remain anonymous and become eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to a felony arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.

June 8, 2009

Marathon man charged with burglary, battery on the occupant

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested early today after he forced his way into a residence and battered a woman inside.

Deputy Chris Fraser and Sgt. Jake Brady were on patrol at 2:30 a.m. when they responded to a home on 4th Avenue on the gulfside in Marathon. When they arrived the suspect, 31 year old Eli Peak, had fled the scene; the victim was still present.

She said Peak forced his way through the front door, looking for his girlfriend. She said she told him his girlfriend wasn't there, but he pushed her aside and, when she repeatedly told him to leave, he refused. He finally left when she called 911 for help.

Peak was found a short distance away. He was positively identified by the victim as the man who entered her house and pushed her. Peak was charged with battery and burglary with battery on the occupant and he was booked into jail.

Two men charged with theft of purse

Key Largo - Two men were arrested early Sunday, charged with stealing a woman's purse at a Key Largo bar.

The purse theft was reported by the victim at 2:45 a.m. Sunday. She called to say someone had stolen her purse from Sharkey's Bar. She said she saw the suspects leave the bar in a blue pickup truck. She was able to give dispatchers a partial tag number from the truck.

Deputy Richard Bellon was on his way to the bar when he spotted the truck northbound on the highway at the 100 mile marker. He pulled the truck over. There were two men inside.

A purse fitting the description of the one stolen was found on the passenger side floorboard. The passenger, identified as 31 year old James Conroy, also had two credit cards with the victim's name on them in his pocket. Conroy told the deputies several different stories in an attempt to explain why he had the purse.

Conroy was charged with possession of stolen property and he was booked into jail.

June 5, 2009

Burglary at Monroe County Fire Academy on Grassy Key

Grassy Key - Detectives are investigating a burglary at the Monroe County Fire Academy on Grassy Key.

An estimated $60,000 worth of equipment was taken from four storage sheds at the Academy. The burglary took place sometime between June 3rd at 4:30 p.m. and June 4th at 1:30 p.m. There was no forced entry. Someone was able to open the combination locks on the sheds to access the inside.

Among the items taken were a large number of power tools and two complete sets of Jaws of Life. Detective Harry Boyden has been assigned to investigate.

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.

June 4, 2009

Roofer airlifted after fall from roof

Ocean Reef - A man who works for a Homestead roofing company fell from the roof of a single story condominium at Ocean Reef Resort Wednesday just before noon.

According to reports by Deputy Mike Sharp, 56 year old Olegario Rinchon was sweeping the roof of a house on Lakeside Lane. A witness says Rinchon was moving backward as he was sweeping and he just stepped off the roof, falling onto a concrete driveway on his back.

Paramedics responded and transported him to the Ocean Reef Airport. He was transported by helicopter to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Marathon man found in hotel room with gun, drugs

Marathon - A Marathon man is under arrest after he was found passed out in a Marathon hotel room with a gun beside him and various drugs in the room.

Deputies responded to the Marathon Inn at 2:15 p.m. because hotel employees found a man passed out in a room after the time he was supposed to check out. They said 40 year old Christopher Flingos was supposed to check out at 11 a.m. When he didn't, the went to check the room. They found him passed out on the bed, with just a shirt on. A gun was within reach of his hand, on the floor beside the bed.

When they couldn't wake him, they called the Sheriff's Office. Deputies arrived and found drugs and drug paraphernalia in plain site in the room. Flingos woke up and he was handcuffed and taken into custody. A search revealed 52 grams of marijuana, a small amount of cocaine and several types of pills, including 56 Xanax pills.

Flingos was charged with four counts possession of controlled substances, possession of cocaine and marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He was booked into jail.

13 year old girl arrested for bringing knife to school

Marathon - A 13 year old Marathon Middle School student was arrested Wednesday after she was caught with a large knife tucked in her bra.

The Assistant Principal searched Valerie Munoz after several students reported she had a knife with her at school. The 12 inch long kitchen knife was found concealed under her shirt, tucked underneath her bra.

When questioned, the girl said she brought the knife to school for protection. She told Deputy Christian Galls she'd gotten into an argument with another student two days before and was afraid she would get hurt. She told the deputy she knew bringing the knife to school was wrong, but that she would have used it if she needed to protect herself.

Munoz was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon on school grounds.

June 3, 2009

Wanted fugitive arrested in Alabama - returned to the Keys

Key Largo - A Key Largo man who broke into his ex-girlfriend's house and attacked her in March, then harassed her afterward, was caught in Alabama and returned to the Keys to face multiple felony charges.

The victim has a permanent injunction against 44 year old Harlan Ritts due to previous domestic violence incidents; on March 23rd, he broke into the house on Allen Avenue and attacked the victim. He fled the scene on a bicycle just before deputies arrived. Deputies went to his house on Poinciana Drive in Key Largo. He saw them coming and ran inside and locked the door to avoid being arrested. Instead of breaking down the door and risking a violent confrontation, the decision was made to have warrants issued for his arrest and to pick him up at a later date. In the meantime, deputies were assigned to keep an eye on the victim's house to ensure she remained safe.

Subsequently, deputies returned to the home on Allen Avenue on two more occasions to take offense reports because Ritts was calling the victim repeatedly. On the phone calls he was threatening her, and attempting to force her to change her story so he would not be arrested.

Because of the forced entry to the victim's house, and because of the subsequent witness tampering, warrants were issued for Ritts on charges of Burglary with battery on the occupant, aggravated stalking, battery, theft, resisting arrest, harassing communications, contempt of court ref. telephoning the victim, obstruction of justice ref. harassing a witness and violation of a domestic violence injunction.

He was recently picked up by law enforcement officers in the state of Alabama and he was returned Tuesday to the Florida Keys to face the charges. He is currently in the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man found floating offshore of the 7-mile Bridge is identified

Marathon - Detectives say they have notified next of kin for the man found floating offshore of the 7 Mile Bridge Monday morning.

They say 44 year old Robert Kramer had a Florida Driver's License in his pocket with a Titusville address on it. Family members were located in Titusville. His truck, a 1992 Chevrolet, was found parked in the parking lot at the south end of the bridge and has an Alabama registration and tag on it. Inside the truck, detectives found both empty and full beer cans, sleeping pills and two empty pill bottles for high blood pressure medication.

An autopsy has been done by the Monroe County Medical Examiner. Detective Terry Smith, who is assigned to investigate the case, said there was no sign of foul play found during the autopsy; results of the autopsy are not being released pending further testing.

June 1, 2009

Man charged with three counts attempted murder

Plantation Key - A Key Largo man is in jail today, charged with three counts of attempted murder after he shot a gun at his wife, her friend and their three year old son.

According to detectives, 53 year old William Thomas Skinner went to his wife's home at 228 Hibiscus Street in Plantation Key Colony, at 8:45 a.m. The couple are separated and in the process of divorcing. She recently moved into the residence on Hibiscus Street with a male friend.

Skinner knocked on the door and asked his wife, 36 year old Indira Skinner, if he could see their son, Luke. She told him he was supposed to call first. The two reportedly argued. Skinner left the doorway and went out to his car. When she saw him returning with a gun, Indira Skinner tried to close the door and they struggled. Her roommate, 33 year old Jesus Ruvalcaba, heard the commotion and walked in. He attempted to help Indira Skinner close the door. William Skinner fired two shots into the front door.

The two victims then turned and ran inside, attempting to escape from the deadly weapon being fired at them. Skinner fired several more shots from the .357 revolver. One of the shots hit Ruvalcaba in the right shoulder. William Skinner attempted to choke Indira Skinner, who broke free from him, picked up her three year old son, who was in close proximity to the gunfire, and fled from the house.

William Skinner ran out after her and, as deputies arrived on the scene, he was in his car reaching underneath the car's seat. He continued this behavior, even though deputies ordered him to get out of the car and put his hands where they could see them.

As one deputy kept Skinner at gunpoint, another used his Taser to incapacitate him so he could be safely taken into custody.

Ruvalcaba was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center by the Monroe County Trauma Star helicopter. Skinner was booked into jail for three counts of attempted murder, armed burglary and battery. Skinner is reportedly an ex-police Captain who used to work for the Miami-Beach Police Department.

Shooting in the upper Keys; suspect in custody

A shooting which appears to be domestic related has resulted in one man being airlifted this morning and another man under arrest for shooting him.

Details are sketchy, but more information will be released when it is available. Dispatchers say they received reports of the shooting at 8:48 a.m. when a woman called to say her husband had just shot the man she was living with. When deputies arrived on Hibiscus Street in Plantation Key Colony, at the 90 mile marker of the highway, they found all three people still on the scene. The male victim is being airlifted to a Miami Hospital by Monroe County’s Trauma Star helicopter for treatment of a gunshot wound to his shoulder; the male suspect is in custody. The female victim is unharmed.

More information will be released as it becomes available.

Michigan man dies snorkeling off shore of Bahia Honda

Bahia Honda - A Brighton, Michigan man died while snorkeling offshore of the Bahia Honda State Park Sunday.

61 year old William Husic, Jr. was with several friends at the state park, snorkeling offshore. One friend said he last saw Husic at around noontime.

His body was found by a couple of men who were offshore on a boat at about 2 p.m. They called 911 and the U.S. Coast Guard responded and brought the body to shore at the Coast Guard Station in Marathon. As the body was being brought in, Husic's friends reported him missing to park officers.

An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of Husic's death, but no foul play is suspected.

Key Largo man stabbed in fight Sunday night

Key Largo - A Key Largo man was stabbed during a fight on Janet Place Sunday night. His attacker is in custody, charged with aggravated battery.

Deputies were called to 15 Janet Place at 10:45 p.m. When they arrived, they found a crowd of people in the street. The 31 year old victim was also there. He said he'd been stabbed in the stomach by 47 year old Victor Villanueva during a fight. Witnesses told the same story as the victim. They said they were having a get-together when Villanueva, who lives in the area, showed up drunk and belligerent. He was asked to leave.

A few minutes later, the victim said he went outside to make sure Villanueva wasn't messing with their cars. He said that is when Villanueva jumped him. They began to fight and, during the fight, he noticed he was bleeding. He ran toward the house to get help.

Deputies found Villanueva hiding underneath a parked car not far away. He refused to come out, so they used a Taser on him, after which he voluntarily came out from under the car and surrendered peacefully.. Several car tires were punctured at the scene and it is believed that is what the suspect was doing when he jumped the victim.

He was placed under arrest, charged with aggravated battery and criminal mischief and he was booked into jail. The victim was airlifted to Miami's Ryder Trauma Center for treatment of his injury.

Man's body found floating near Seven Mile Bridge

Marathon - The body of a man was found floating offshore of the Seven Mile Bridge this morning.

Deputies and detectives responded to the South End of the Bridge to reports of a body in the water. A man fishing from the bridge spotted the body and called at 9:40 a.m. The U.S. Coast Guard responded and pulled the body from the water.

According to Detective Kim Trullender, the dead man is a middle aged white male who had not been in the water long. A pickup truck belonging to him was found parked in the parking area at the south end of the bridge, on the gulf side. His name is not being released pending notification of next of kin.

There were no obvious signs of foul play evident on the body. The Medical Examiner's Office will be performing an autopsy to determine the cause of his death.

Four teens charged with running from store with stolen beer

Key Largo - Four 19 year old Key Largo residents were caught red-handed as they ran out of a convenience store with cases of stolen beer early Sunday.

Deputy Darnell Durham was doing a business check of the Circle K Store at the 102.5 mile marker at 3 a.m. Sunday. While driving into the parking lot, he saw two young men run out of the store with cases of beer in their hands. They jumped into a Ford Sport Utility Vehicle, which was parked, running, with the doors open outside the store. The vehicle then sped away from the store.

Deputy Durham turned on his lights and siren and stopped the vehicle a short distance away. All four people inside were removed and detained. In plain view, the deputy could see three 18 packs of Bud Light, an 18 pack of Miller Light and a 12 pack of Bud Light.

The deputy spoke with the store clerk who confirmed the young men had stolen the beer and had run out of the store without paying for it. Video surveillance confirmed the story.

All four 19 year olds were placed under arrest. Raymond Ferro, Andrew Hertel, Rozina Malzacher and Michael Maninella were all charged with theft, possession of alcohol by a minor and conspiracy; Hertel was also charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after two hand rolled marijuana cigarettes and a package of rolling papers were found in his pockets.

All four were booked into jail.