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
December 31, 2012
Weekend race event may cause traffic issues
The Ragnar Relay race taking place this weekend between Miami and Key West may cause some traffic issues, particularly in the Keys. Those people planning on driving on the Overseas Highway should be aware of it and plan their trip accordingly.
The race takes place January 4 – 5. Runners and support vehicles will travel between Miami and Key West during that time period. Travel through the upper Keys will take place late at night and during the early morning hours and should not be as much of a problem.
Travel from the 7 Mile Bridge South, however, will take place between the hours of 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. on the 5th of January. Race teams accompanied by 1,000 support vehicles could cause traffic slowdowns.
Lower Keys Captain Gene Thompson met with race organizers earlier in the year to make sure some problems encountered during earlier races do not take place this year. However, the sheer number of runners and support vehicles still mean travelers should plan extra time if they are planning to drive while the race is taking place.
“Plan extra time if you are going to drive in the Lower Keys on Saturday during the day,” said Captain Thompson. “Race organizers have hired a large contingent of deputies to help keep traffic flowing, but we want to make sure everyone is aware of the event.”
Event organizers have hired 17 officers to work the Lower Keys route. The officers will work various hours and various locations between 3 a.m. and 6 p.m. In the Middle Keys, seven officers have been hired to work the race between the hours of midnight and 10:30 a.m. at various locations and times.
Man arrested for gun threats in road rage incident
Big Pine Key – A 42 year old South Carolina man was arrested Friday, charged with pulling a gun during a road rage incident that took place Christmas Eve on Big Pine Key.
Deputies responded to Key Deer Boulevard December 24th at 10 a.m. When he arrived, the two vehicles – a black Dodge Challenger and a white BMW convertible - and two couples involved were still on the scene.
The victims live on Allamanda Lane on Big Pine Key. The suspect and his wife are from Bonneau, South Carolina. They were staying at a home on Narcissus Avenue on Big Pine Key.
Stories varied when everyone was interviewed, however the two vehicles were on Watson Boulevard and turned onto Key Deer Boulevard when the incident took place. The victim, who drives the Challenger, said the suspect, Travis Wolfe, was driving slowly in his BMW; he said he tried to pass but Wolfe wouldn’t let him pass. At some point, when they were in the vicinity of Walgreen’s, the two driver’s began yelling at each other. During the confrontation, Wolfe showed the victim a handgun.
The two vehicles continued down the road, turning into the United Methodist Parking lot. Both couples called 911 to report the incident and deputies responded.
Wolfe admitted to showing the handgun to the other man during the confrontation. He said he did it because he was afraid and felt threatened.
Two handguns were recovered from the car driven by Wolfe; one – a Ruger .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun - belonged to Wolfe and was in the glove compartment; the other - a five shot Smith and Wesson revolver - belonged to his wife and was found beneath a pile of towels on the rear floorboards.
A warrant was obtained for Wolfe’s arrest and he was booked into jail on Friday on charges of improper exhibition of a firearm.
December 30, 2012
Marathon man arrested for marijuana
Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested Saturday for possessing a large amount of marijuana after he called the Sheriff’s Office to complain about his neighbors.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Anthony O’Dea responded to Keys RV Park to a call of suspicious activity. Neighbors of 77 year old Michael Csernik said they believed Csernik was selling drugs because there were lots of vehicles coming and going at Csernik’s residence at lot 83W. Deputy O’Dea attempted to make contact with Csernik, but no one answered the door.
About an hour later, Csernik himself called the Sheriff’s Office and Deputy O’Dea responded. Csernik told the deputy he was upset because his neighbors were taking pictures of cars coming and going from his home. When the deputy asked Csernik why he had so many people stopping at his residence, Csernik said he has a lot of friends.
Deputy O’Dea asked Csernik for permission to search his residence. Csernik consented to the search, signing a “Consent to Search” form. His 51 year old son, who was sitting on the porch, also agreed to the search and also signed a form giving permission.
Inside the residence, the deputy found three zip lock bags of marijuana in the living room. Seven more bags of marijuana were found in the bedroom, along with a scale for weighing the drug. Total weight of the marijuana was 110 grams.
In Csernik’s front pocket, the deputy found $1,363.00 in cash. The cash was seized as proceeds from suspected drug sales.
Csernik said all the drugs and paraphernalia belonged to him and his son had no knowledge of any of it. Csernik was arrested. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of a felony amount of marijuana (over 20 grams) and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.
December 27, 2012
Woman is the Grinch who stole Christmas packages
Islamorada – A woman who works in the Islamorada United Parcel Service warehouse was arrested yesterday after detectives found she was diverting customer packages for her own benefit.
On December 10th, the manager of the warehouse called the Sheriff’s Office because he discovered an Apple Ipad and Iphone missing. He said both items arrived at the warehouse and were placed on a truck for delivery. They were then returned to the warehouse and never delivered. They subsequently went missing and could not be found. He told the detectives he suspected he had an employee who was stealing the items.
As detectives were setting up an undercover operation to catch the thief, another employee told his supervisor he saw employee Shuwana Horne open a package meant for a customer. There were cookies inside, which she then shared with staff at the warehouse, telling them she’d purchased the cookies earlier in the day. The supervisor found the cookie box in a trash can, empty. Further investigation revealed the suspect had changed the package’s delivery status to “receiver moved, not delivered/returned to shipper” in the UPS computer system.
Detectives went to Horne’s residence, where they confronted her. She admitted to opening the package of cookies and also admitted to stealing the Ipad which she said she sold to someone at the Collier County Casino for $250.00. She denied any involvement in stealing the Iphone.
Horne was arrested. She was charged with Grand theft, theft and one count of Offenses against Intellectual Property (For reference, this is FL Statute 815.04(1)).
Pair arrested for robbery, beating
Islamorada – A Tavernier man was beaten and robbed early Wednesday. The couple who committed the crime were arrested.
The 24 year old victim told Deputy Frank Delgado he was drinking at Woody’s Sports Bar most of the night. He said at closing, one of the dancers – Jenifer Auerbach - told him to meet her across the street behind the Sandal Factory and she would go home with him. He was there waiting when a silver Chevrolet pulled up. Auerbach was inside, along with her boyfriend, Shane Earp.
Earp got out of the car, yelling, and began to punch him. The two of them fought, with Earp finally knocking him to the ground. He said Auerbach kicked him in the head while he was on the ground. She then tore the gold chain from around his neck and they took off.
The victim called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Delgado met with the victim, and called in a description of the vehicle. Deputies Pedro Garcia and Vaughn O’Keefe stopped the car at the 104 mile marker. The victim positively identified both of the suspects as the ones who beat and robbed him. They were arrested. The gold chain was found inside the vehicle they were driving.
Auerbach was charged with battery, grand theft and robbery. Earp was charged with aggravated battery. They were both booked into jail.
Homestead woman arrested for setting fire to mattress
A Homestead woman was arrested Wednesday, charged with setting fire to a mattress as her ex-boyfriend and another woman slept on it.
The incident took place in the early morning hours November 11th. 29 year old Nicole Dobol reportedly went looking for her ex-boyfriend at Hog Heaven Bar and Grill in Islamorada. His roommate was there and told her he had gone home. He also told her not to go to the apartment where he and the ex-boyfriend lived, at the 90.2 mile marker.
Despite his warnings not to go to the apartment, Dobol allegedly broke in, forcing open the door. She went into the bedroom and found her ex-boyfriend sleeping there with another woman. As they slept, she lit the mattress on fire. When they woke up, they said she just stood there, taunting them as the mattress burned. They dragged the mattress onto a balcony and extinguished the fire. They were not injured.
The roommate returned home as the fire was still burning. He said Dobol admitted to him she lit the fire. She allegedly told him she did it because it “made her crazy” to see the two sleeping together.
Dobol was arrested Wednesday on an outstanding warrant. She was charged with arson and burglary and she was booked into jail.
Homeless man arrested for raping an unconscious woman
Stock Island – A Homeless man is under arrest, charged with raping a woman as she was passed out on the ground Wednesday.
The attack took place at 6:15 p.m. on the corner of Maloney Avenue and Second Street on Stock Island. Another woman saw what was happening and pulled 35 year old Daniel Potts off of the 49 year old victim. As deputies arrived on the scene, the victim woke up. She was highly intoxicated and completely unaware of what had happened to her.
Potts was arrested. He was charged with sexual battery and he was booked into jail.
December 24, 2012
Stock Island woman arrested for firing gun
A Stock Island woman was arrested Sunday night after she fired five shots from a handgun from the porch of her residence.
When Deputy Spencer Curry arrived at the apartment at 6630 Maloney Avenue at 11:40 p.m. he found the suspect, 58 year old Beverly Richards, still on the scene. Her roommate was also there.
Richards admitted to the deputy she had a couple of martinis, and then fired a gun several times. She said she was angry that she would not be able to see her granddaughter on Christmas and it made her feel better to fire the gun. She claimed she was sitting on a boat behind the residence at the time. She said she fired the gun out over the water and away from all the houses on shore.
Her roommate told the deputy Richards was on the porch of the residence at the time she fired it. She said Richards at one point threatened to shoot her with the gun. She said she took the gun away from Richards and put it in the apartment. The gun was recovered; it had been fired five times. Empty bullet casings were found on the porch. It appeared that she fired the gun over the top of several other residences in the area.
Richards was charged with improper exhibition of a firearm, discharging a firearm in public and use of a firearm under the influence of alcohol.
Woman flees deputies; is arrested
Lower Keys – Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes got more than he bargained for while working a DUI saturation patrol early Sunday. He attempted to stop a Boynton Beach woman speeding on U.S. One in the early morning hours; she fled from him at high speed, but was eventually arrested.
Laura Rager was southbound in her white Toyota at 73 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone at 2:23 p.m. when Deputy Martin-Reyes spotted her. He turned around and attempted a traffic stop, backed up by Deputy Jon Huff.
Rager pulled over but just as the deputy was getting out of the car, she took off. He followed. She reached speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, crossing both the white and yellow lines of the roadway; she forced several vehicles off the roadway with her dangerous behavior.
At one point, Deputy Scott Ward was traveling toward her with his lights and siren activated in an attempt to slow her down. She crossed the center line and drove directly at him, forcing him off the road at the 16 mile marker of the highway.
She got all the way to the five mile marker of the highway and saw the red and blue lights of deputies setting up a Stinger Spike strip in an attempt to puncture her tires. At that point, she did a U-turn on the highway. As she turned, Deputy Martin-Reyes saw her roll down her window and stick her hand out, extending her middle finger at him.
He also turned around and started back north behind her vehicle. At the 10 mile marker she again crossed the center line forcing an tractor-trailer truck off the road.
At the 20.5 mile marker, more deputies were stationed with a Stinger Spike system. They punctured her tires and the car slowly came to a stop.
Rager jumped out of the car and fled, running toward a wooded area. The deputies chased her. When they caught up with her, they ordered her to show her hands so they could be sure she did not have a weapon. She refused to comply and a Taser was used to subdue her.
Rager smelled strongly of alcohol and had several prescription medications in her vehicle. She had urinated and defecated on herself and kept yelling “why don’t you just shoot me, get it over with,” to the deputies on scene.
She refused breath tests at the jail, and refused to sign citations as well. The deputy checked her arrest record and found two prior DUI arrests.
Rager was charged with fleeing and eluding police, reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (third violation), aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, speeding in excess of 50 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, failing to maintain a single lane, refusal to submit to a breath test and five counts of resisting arrest.
December 20, 2012
Alcohol Compliance Checks performed
On Friday, the Special Investigations Division conducted an operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in the Middle Keys. Ten businesses were checked including restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Four of the businesses served alcohol to minors during our investigations. The four people were given notices to appear before a Monroe County Judge.
The following are a list of the Business, and suspects who sold the alcohol:
Citgo, 11001 Overseas Highway Marathon. Attendant – Mohammed Khurshed Alam, DOB 02/23/67. This is the second offense for this location in 3 months.
Walgreens Liquor store, 10870 Overseas Highway Marathon. Attendant – Karen L. Askew DOB 10/01/56.
Fairway Market, 3896 Overseas Highway Marathon.Attendant – Mohammed Shiraj Hossain DOB 01/02/50.
Tom Thumb, 5515 Overseas Highway Marathon. Attendant – Britney Alexander Spivey Dixion DOB 10/07/89.
The Sale Clerk violations are punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, $235 in court costs, $75 in cost of prosecution, and $40 in cost of investigation.
The Licensee Violations are:
1st offense $1000 fine and 7 day suspension
2nd offense $3000 fine and 30 day suspension
3rd offense Revocation of license.
The remaining business checked, were in compliance with the law.
This operation was conducted in cooperation with the Monroe County Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community.
December 19, 2012
Owner of dog found dead in the water is arrested
After months of diligent investigation, Detective David Cruz arrested a Key West man in connection with the dog found dead in a cage offshore of Big Coppitt Key in September.
The young cream colored dog with a purple collar was found submerged, in a cage, by the first bridge off U.S. One on Boca Chica Road. A necropsy was inconclusive in determining the cause of the dog’s death due to the condition of the body, although there were indications the dog may have drowned.
Detective Cruz was assigned to investigate. He contacted the company that made the cage the dog was found in and discovered four people in the Lower Keys who had purchased one. After checking with all four cage owners, only one could not tell him where his cage was – 28 year old Darrell Eacholes of Key West. Eacholes said he left the crate at a previous residence when he moved to Key West.
Detective Cruz then visited veterinarians in the Lower Keys area, asking both about the dog and about Eacholes. The Office manager at The Animal Hospital on Second Street, Stock Island, recognized the dog and confirmed the dog’s owner was Eacholes. The dog was an Gordon Setter / American Eskimo mix named “Bella”. She said they had treated the dog just two days before it was found dead.
Eacholes wife confirmed to Detective Cruz the dead dog was their dog “Bella”. She said the dog had been very sick and her husband had removed the dog from their residence, not telling her where he took it. Darrell Eacholes then confirmed he’d thrown the dog into the water. He said they did not have the money to treat her for her illness, and she had become non-responsive at the time he did it.
Because the necropsy could not prove the dog was alive at the time she was thrown into the water, Eacholes was arrested and charged with unlawful disposal of a dead animal. He was booked into jail.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind people to consider carefully before acquiring a pet. Many pets – such as pot bellied pigs, rabbits, chickens and ducks – are cute when they are small but soon grow out of that stage and become animals that are not always optimum pets. Dogs and cats are also wonderful companions, but before you take on any kind of pet, consider the cost of feeding and caring for the pet properly and make sure you can afford it. If, in an extreme circumstance, you find you cannot care for your pet, contact your local animal shelter – in the Lower Keys it is the Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (FKSPCA). Disposing of a live pet – or a dead one – improperly is against the law.
Woman sets herself on fire during domestic dispute
A Stock Island woman set herself on fire during a domestic dispute Tuesday evening at Waters Edge Trailer Park.
Sheriff’s dispatchers received a phone call from the woman’s 8 year old daughter, reporting her mom and dad were fighting. When Deputy John Gabay arrived, he found 32 year old Jean Brutus holding his wife’s hands as she sat in a chair outside. Their daughter was on the scene as well.
Brutus let go of her when the deputy arrived and the woman – identified as 33 year old Lyneda Vilme and dressed only in her underwear – quickly grabbed a red gasoline can sitting by the chair and dumped gasoline all over her body. The deputy grabbed the gas container and threw it into a corner of the yard, but before he could stop her she grabbed a lighter, threatening to set herself on fire.
Deputy Gabay managed to get the lighter away from her, but then she produced matches and, before he could stop her, lit herself on fire. Deputy Spencer Curry arrived on the scene. The two deputies and Vilme’s husband managed to extinguish the flames, but she sustained massive burns from head to toe. After being burned, Vilme continued to be combative with deputies and paramedics, yelling and fighting with them.
An attempt was made to airlift her using the Trauma Star helicopter, but she was so combative and violent, she could not be transported by air. She was finally transported to Lower Keys Hospital for treatment.
December 16, 2012
Cudjoe man arrested for lewd behavior
A 53 year old Cudjoe Key man was arrested Saturday, charged with fondling a 12 year old girl.
The victim told deputies and detectives she and her family were on a boat trip with Bobby Brents when the boat broke down. She said during the time they were waiting for a tow to land, Brents fondled her and struggled with her in an effort to remove her clothing.
The victim fought him off and moved to another area of the boat, later telling her mother about the incident.
After an investigation and interviews with everyone concerned, Brents was arrested Saturday. He was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior with the victim between the ages of 12 and 16. He was booked into jail.
December 13, 2012
Woman arrested for shooting roommate
Key Largo – A Key Largo woman is under arrest, accused of shooting her male roommate with a .22 caliber rifle after an argument.
Deputies responded to 217 St. Croix Place just before 1 a.m. to reports of a possible shooting. Sgt. Susan Keene arrived on the scene and found the front door open. She heard a woman inside calling for help. As she entered, she saw a man – later identified as a neighbor – standing by the bedroom door with a cell phone to his ear. He pointed inside the room and said “they are in here”. In the room, she found the victim, 45 year old Shakir Muilam, on the floor. The suspect, 37 year old Candice Lee, was applying pressure to a wound on his side with towels.
Sgt. Keene asked where the gun in question was and Lee pointed to a rifle leaning up against a book case, saying “It’s right there, that’s what I shot him with.”
Investigations indicate that the victim lives with Lee and her husband. She said she and her husband have an “open relationship” which allows them to have other “intimate partners”. She said she and the victim had been lovers, but had broken up. She said she and her husband let him move in after they found out he has cancer.
She said just before the shooting, the victim woke up from a nap and found her outside talking with her current lover. She said the victim became angry and they argued about her having other boyfriends. She said that was her lifestyle and if he didn’t like it he could leave. She said at that point she started carrying his belongings outside to the driveway. She said as they were arguing, she fell to the floor and hit her head. She said she went into her room and grabbed the rifle. She said she was pointing it at him as they continued arguing. She said she saw him reach behind himself for something and that is when she pulled the trigger, shooting him. She ran next door to a neighbor’s house and asked the neighbor to call the police. She then ran back inside and held pressure on the wound until deputies arrived.
The victim was airlifted to Miami for treatment of a gunshot wound on his upper thigh. He is currently in stable condition at the Ryder Trauma Center. Lee was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. She was booked into jail.
December 6, 2012
Key Largo man charged with lewd behavior
A 20 year old Key Largo man was arrested, accused of having sexual relations with a 15 year old girl.
Detectives investigating the case found on July 13th the victim went to the Key Largo home of a friend, who is a 17 year old male. Also at the home was 20 year old Joshua Williams. The victim was there for approximately four hours, during which she said she drank three shots of alcohol. She said she began to feel weak and disoriented. She said that is when Williams and the other male took her into the bedroom, where they had sexual relations with her.
Afterward, the two males told her to stay there; they went to the drug store and purchased a package of “morning after” pills for her. They gave her one and told her to take it. They told her to take the other one 12 hours later.
Williams admitted, during an interview with detectives, that he had sexual relations with the girl and that he knew her age at the time.
A warrant was issued for his arrest and on Wednesday, he was arrested. He was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a person older than 12 but less than 16 years of age. He was booked into jail.
December 3, 2012
Accident injures four
Cudjoe Key – Four people were injured in a single vehicle accident early today on Cudjoe Key. The accident, involving a dump truck that went off of the highway into the mangroves, happened at 2:24 a.m. at the 20.9 mile marker of the highway. Southbound lanes of traffic were blocked. The roadway opened up at 4:20 a.m. One person was airlifted to a Miami hospital; dispatch notes indicate three more were taken to Lower Keys Hospital.
19 year old dies while spear fishing
A 19 year old from Miami died Sunday just before noon while free diving and spear fishing offshore of the Upper Keys.
More details will be released later today, but initial reports indicate he was with friends on a private vessel when the incident took place near the lighthouse at Tennessee Reef. His friends called the Sheriff’s Office when he did not surface.
Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded, along with members of the Sheriff’s Office dive team. The body was recovered and turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office.
More information about offshore death
19 year old Erick Diaz of N.W. 177th Terrace in Miami died offshore of Layton, near Tennessee Reef on Sunday just before noon. He was reportedly spear fishing using a mask and snorkel with his cousin. His cousin told detectives Diaz had a line attached to his spear, and the line was also tied around his waist. While trying to shoot a fish, he reportedly shot the spear into some rocks and it got stuck.
The cousin said he tried to pull the spear from the rocks, but couldn’t get it loose so he swam to the surface in an attempt to get help. He was unable to help Diaz, however, who died underwater.
The two were on board a private fishing vessel with a friend. The vessel, an 18 foot Boston Whaler, belonged to Diaz’ father.
Diaz body was recovered from the water by members of the Sheriff’s Office dive team and was turned over to the Monroe County Medical Examiner.
Fight at flea market leads to charges
Big Pine Key – A fight Saturday afternoon at the Big Pine Flea Market led to the arrest of a Big Pine Key man for aggravated battery.
The victim, a 71 year old Cudjoe Key man, told Deputy Martin Harbin he was working his booth at the flea market just after 1 p.m. when 56 year old David Maxwell became agitated. The victim said Maxwell kept walking up and down in front of his booth calling the victim a “cheap Jew”. Maxwell reportedly walked through the victim’s booth twice repeating the insult; the victim said he finally told him not to enter the booth again.
According to the victim, and witnesses in the area, Maxwell pushed the victim twice; the victim struck Maxwell in the face. Maxwell pushed the victim again and the victim’s wife started screaming. Two off duty police officers who happened to be in the area – Key West Police Lt. David Smith and Deputy Nicholas Abroe - intervened, holding Maxwell down until Deputy Harbin arrived. Maxwell continued to struggle with the officers while they detained him.
Maxwell was charged with aggravated battery of an elderly person, battery, showing evidence of prejudice in the commission of a crime and resisting arrest. He was booked into jail.