Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
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March 31, 2012
Law Enforcement Operation targets Internet Crimes against Children
A three day long law enforcement operation wrapped up Friday in Monroe County targeting internet exploitation of children. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, a participant in the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for the past ten years, worked with other task force members to arrest three people during the course of the operation.
The operation was led by Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Detective Dan Mehler. There were two areas of focus. One targeted individuals who “chatted” on line with undercover operatives posing as children. The other targeted those who transmit and possess child pornography.
In two instances, men talked on the internet with an undercover operative posing as a young, teenage girl. The men – 46 year old Guillermo Lopez of Miami and 22 year old Pablo Cabrera of Hialeah – had obscene on-line conversations with the “girl” and then agreed to meet with her at a location in Key Largo. They were arrested when they showed up on charges of traveling for sex with a minor.
Three search warrants were served during the operation, one on the Big Pine Key residence of 36 year old Christopher Mitchum, who was subsequently arrested for ten counts of possession of child pornography by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The other two search warrants, served in the city of Key West, are still part of ongoing investigations. Arrests are also expected in those two cases.
Other agencies assisting in the operation included the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office, Broward County Sheriff’s Office, FDLE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Secret Service, Key West Police, Boynton Beach Police and South Florida High Intensity Drug Enforcement Administration.
Sheriff Bob Peryam and detectives from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office travelled to Tallahassee late last year to take part in a similar operation. The Sheriff’s Office – and all the agencies involved in the task force operations – are dedicated to protecting children from such attempts at exploitation.
“I feel that it is our responsibility, as an agency, to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our children,” Sheriff Peryam said. “Operations like this are an effective way to target adults who would directly endanger our children, and whose intention is to exploit them for their own illegal purposes.”
The Commander of the South Florida ICAC Task Force, Lt Richard Pisanti met with Undersheriff Colonel Rick Ramsay at the start of the operation.
“Our goal is building good relationships with other participating agencies. This is a great opportunity to work with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and local prosecutors to further the goals of ICAC, “ said Lt. Pisanti.
Colonel Rick Ramsay, who supports the participation with the ICAC Task Force, addressed the need for a proactive approach to protecting our children.
“Cyber crime can be difficult to detect. If we aren’t paying close attention to what our children are doing, and who they are talking to on-line, they can easily fall prey and become victims to these predators,” said Colonel Ramsay. “ Task Force operations are one of the most effective means to approach and combat cyber crimes against children.”
“I was so impressed with the cooperation and teamwork all of our agencies showed, working together during this operation,” said State Attorney Dennis Ward. “We will subsequently work hard to prosecute those individuals arrested,” he said.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office worked with local businesses to provide food for the officers throughout the operation. Publix supermarket provided snacks, drinks and breakfast all three days. Lupe and Michelle Ledesma of Lazy Days Restaurant in Islamorada provided hot lunches while the officers were working.
Background on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program
In 1998 the United States Department of Justice began an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force to address the growing problem of Internet-related exploitation of children. The ICAC Task Force laid the foundation for what would become a nationwide partnership of law enforcement agencies with the mission of protecting children online. Currently there are 61 ICAC Task Forces located across the United States representing over 2,000 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. Since its inception, the ICAC Task Force program has investigated over 280,000 complaints of alleged child sexual exploitation and arrested almost 30,000 individuals. Monroe County has actively participated in the task force for more than ten years
One of the primary missions of each ICAC task force involves reaching out to other agencies in other areas of the country to help them establish an internet presence and to build capacity and expertise. In doing so, an even larger network of law enforcement agencies is created capable of dealing with online threats and exploitation.
For more information regarding ICAC please visit www.icactaskforce.org.
Marathon man severely injured in fight
Marathon – A Marathon man was treated at Fishermen’s Hospital for severe injuries sustained in a fight Friday night.
Deputy Mark Jones responded to Sombrero Beach Boulevard at 11:30 p.m. to reports a bloody man was trying to flag down motorists. When he arrived, he found the victim, 49 year old Hans Pfab. Pfab was covered in blood and appeared to have been beaten. Paramedics transported him to the hospital.
Nearby, Sgt. Joel Slough found a broken beer bottle and a razor knife with blood on them.
Later, at the hospital, Pfab told Deputy Jones he was at the beach and spoke to a “young, cute girl”. He said three men with her became upset with him. He said they followed him when he left the beach; he said a confrontation ensued and the three men beat him, punching and kicking him in the face and head.
Detectives were assigned to investigate the case.
Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the tipster would be eligible for a cash reward. CrimeStoppers can be contacted at 1-800-346-TIPS or at www.tipsubmit.com.
March 29, 2012
Two teens charged with Cudjoe Key burglary
Cudjoe Key - Two teens were arrested, charged with burglarizing a Cudjoe Key home in December. The investigation is ongoing and another arrest may be pending.
Deputy Jon Riggs and Detective Dave Chavka investigated the case; the victim, who lives on Dirk Lane, called the Sheriff’s Office to report someone had entered her home on December 20th and had taken her IPAD from inside and a spear gun from outside. She told Deputy Riggs she thinks the burglary was committed by friends of her son, who knew where she hides a key and used it to enter the house. She gave Deputy Riggs the first name of a possible suspect – Kevin.
She contacted the Sheriff’s Office again and told Deputy Riggs the name of another possible suspect – Christopher Laboy. Deputy Riggs went to Laboy’s residence on Big Pine Key. Laboy was there, along with a friend named Kevin Smith. Deputy Riggs asked Laboy about the Cudjoe Key burglary. He admitted that he and Smith had accompanied another friend to the home; he said he and Smith had acted as lookouts as the third friend entered the residence and took the IPAD. Smith also admitted to being involved in the crime.
Detective Chavka was assigned to investigate the case. He also interviewed the two teens, and they again admitted to acting as lookouts for the burglary on Cudjoe Key in December. Detective Chavka had warrants issued for both of them. This week, both Laboy, who is 17, and and Smith, who is 15, were arrested. They were charged with burglary, theft and being a principal to the crime of burglary. The investigation is continuing and another arrest may be pending.
March 28, 2012
Marathon man arrested for having sex with a 12 year old
Marathon – A Marathon taxi driver was arrested Tuesday, charged with repeatedly having sex with a 12 year old girl.
The victim told Major Crimes Detective Geni Hernandez she had sex with 41 year old Angel Lopez multiple times between March 19th and the 26th at his apartment on Shark Street in Marathon. She said she met him after sneaking out of her mother’s residence on March 19th. She said she called a cab to pick her up from Walgreen’s and he was the driver.
After his shift at work, she said he took her back to his apartment and had sexual relations with her. She said this activity continued on subsequent nights. She said she told him she was 12 years old. At one point, he told her he could get into trouble for having sex with her because of her age.
On March 23rd, she said she ran away from home and went to his residence. She said she told him that she’d run away and he let her stay at his apartment. Detectives became involved in the case after the girl’s mother reported her missing. When detectives spoke with friends of the victim, they said they’d spoken with her; she told her friends she was having sex with an older man named “Angel” who lives on Shark Street.
When Detective Hernandez interviewed Lopez, he admitted to having sexual relations with the girl. He was arrested, charged with 9 counts of lewd and lascivious behavior and one count of sheltering a minor without notifying a parent. He was booked into jail.
Marathon postal worker arrested for marijuana
Marathon – A Marathon postal worker was arrested Tuesday after she was caught with a package with 10 pounds of Marijuana inside.
Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations detectives worked together with investigators with the U.S. Postal Service on the investigation.
The Postal Service had information about a suspicious package they believed had drugs inside. The package was addressed to an elderly Marathon woman. When it arrived at the Marathon Post Office, it was given to postal worker Veronica Johnson, 49, of Marathon for delivery.
According to detectives, Johnson delivered mail to the address where the suspicious package was supposed to go, but did not deliver the package. Instead, at the end of her shift, she put the package in the trunk of her car.
She told detectives she takes delivery of the marijuana for a man who pays her $200.00 for each package. She said she has done it a number of times in the past. She said she is aware of what is inside the package.
She was arrested and charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana. She was booked into jail.
March 27, 2012
Key Largo man charged with burglarizing motel room
Key Largo – A Key Largo man was arrested Sunday night, charged with stealing keys from a motel office and burglarizing a room at the motel.
Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe responded to the Bay Cove Motel at 6 p.m. after a couple staying at the motel discovered someone had entered their room and taken a wallet. They told the deputy they’d been at the beach since 4 p.m. and remembered locking the room door as they were leaving. Witnesses told the deputy they’d seen a man in the area who looked suspicious. An employee at the motel confirmed the man was the boyfriend of one of her employees, and he’d been at the motel earlier. She said it was strange, because her employee – his girlfriend – had gone home sick earlier and she said she was not sure what he was doing there. Further investigation revealed the extra room key for the room, kept in the office, was missing.
Deputy O’Keefe went to the employee’s home and questioned her. He then made contact with 39 year old Louis Terracino. Upon questioning Terracino, he admitted to taking the wallet from the room. He told Deputy O’Keefe the room’s door was open. He took the deputy to the location where he discarded the wallet, in a trash can at the Holiday Inn at the 99 mile marker of the highway. The wallet was recovered there; He then admitted discarding credit cards, checks and identification in several more locations. Deputy O’Keefe went to those locations and recovered the other items. In a trash can in front of a dive shop, he found a debit card from the wallet, along with three keys to rooms at the Bay Cove Motel.
Terracino was arrested. He was charged with burglary, two counts of theft and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.
Marathon teen arrested for multiple burglaries
Marathon – An 18 year old Marathon man was arrested Sunday, charged with burglarizing two vehicles and a home in his own neighborhood.
A woman who lives on 5th Avenue gulf-side called the Sheriff’s Office at 5:30 a.m. Sunday. She said she’d gotten home around 5 a.m. from a party; she’d left her door open, and was getting ready to go to sleep. She said she walked into her kitchen and saw someone standing by her table. When she confronted him, he ran out of the house. She later realized her purse was gone from the table. She described him as a young white male with blonde hair.
Later that morning, she told her daughter what happened. Her daughter thought she knew who the suspect might be. She got a picture of 18 year old Aric Jenks from his Facebook page and showed it to her mother. Her mother identified Jenks as the man she saw in her kitchen.
That same morning, the Sheriff’s Office received reports of two vehicle burglaries in the same neighborhood. One victim, who lives on 5th Avenue Gulf, reported two vehicles burglarized; in one, she’d found a phone on the seat that did not belong to anyone in her family. She also reported cash and several blue condoms stolen from one of the vehicles. The second victim, who lives on the same street, reported someone stole a large number of items from the back of his truck, including dive equipment, fishing equipment, a bicycle and vehicle stereo components.
After reporting his truck burglarized, the second victim began checking the neighborhood for his stolen items. He looked into a white Volvo parked in the front yard of the house where Jenks lives. In the vehicle, on the back seat, was some of his stolen stereo equipment. He called the Sheriff’s Office again to report finding his belongings.
Deputies responded to the location. They met with Jenks, his father and his brother. Detectives also responded to the scene. They were given permission to search the vehicle, and Jenks’ bedroom inside the house. They found a large amount of the items stolen from the burglaries both in the car and in the house, including the stolen blue condoms. The purse stolen during the residential burglary was found in a garbage can at the house. The phone, found in one of the burglarized vehicles, turned out to belong to Jenks. During interviews with Jenks, he admitted to committing the crimes. He told deputies he couldn’t give them many details because he was drunk when he committed the crimes and didn’t remember all of what he’d done.
Jenks was arrested. He was charged with three counts of burglary, two counts of theft and one count of grand theft. He was booked into jail. The recovered stolen items will be returned to the owners.
March 24, 2012
Man charged with sex trafficking
A Stock Island man was arrested today, charged with sex trafficking –the first such arrest in Monroe County.
29 year old Derrick Wilson is accused of coercing a 20 year old North Carolina woman into having sex with men for money. Wilson would take the money, providing her with a place to stay and a supply of crack cocaine in return.
The victim told Major Crimes Detective Manuel Cuervo she first came to the Keys in early February with her boyfriend. She said they argued and she left the boat they were staying on. She met up with a woman at a Stock Island convenience store and the woman offered her a place to stay and crack cocaine, which she says she’d never used before.
She said after several days of using crack cocaine and staying various places, she met a man she knew as “D” – Derrick Wilson. She said he offered her a place to stay and more crack cocaine. Eventually, she said Wilson told her if she wanted more drugs, she would have to pay him money; she said he would set her up on “dates” with men during which she would have sex with the men and they would pay Wilson money for the sexual acts.
She said she felt she had no choice because he would tell her he would “beat her ass” if she didn’t continue making money for him.
In addition, she said he arranged for her to work at a local strip club. She would make money there – she said as much as $600 a night at times – and he would take the money from her. She said she kept doing what he told her to do because she was afraid he would beat her. She said she also felt she had no choice because she has no family here.
On March 13th, the victim said she finally got enough courage to escape from Wilson. She waited until Wilson was asleep and she ran to a nearby Monroe County fire station and asked for help. Firefighters at the station contacted the Sheriff’s Office. Victim Advocate Elaine Woodson responded and, after talking with the victim, called Major Crimes Detective Cuervo who began his investigation.
Wilson was taken into custody this morning, charged with sex trafficking. A search warrant was served on his residence at 5700 Laurel Avenue, lot 2B, where the victim said she engaged in the coerced sexual activity. Evidence corroborating her story was found during a search of the premises.
Detective Cuervo says he intends to continue his investigations into Wilson’s activities.
March 21, 2012
Key West man charged with illegally accessing government computers
Key West – A Key West man is in jail, charged with illegally accessing computers belonging to the Key Largo Water Treatment Facility.
When Detective Robert Dosh interviewed suspect Sal Zappullo at his home on Gerome Lane in Key West on March 14th, Zappullo bragged about using passwords belonging to other employees of the facility to access the facility’s computers from home. Zappullo used to work for the Key Largo Water Treatment facility, but his contract was not renewed. At the time he accessed the computers from home, he no longer worked for the facility.
He told Detective Dosh he accessed the computers illegally to prove the computer system was not secure. Zappullo told the detective he accessed the computers and downloaded emails and other documents pertaining to him. Further investigation revealed he also deleted some information as well.
The Computer Manager for the facility, Paul Christian, contacted the Sheriff’s Office in February to report the crimes. He told Detective Dosh he was doing a routine check of employee email when he came across a number of emails from an employee’s email account, sent to an address he recognized: zapkeywest@comcastlnet. He said he knew the address belonged to Zappullo from the time Zappullo worked for the facility. He began investigating further and found more evidence Zappullo had been illegally accessing the facility’s computers and downloading information and emails using the passwords and email accounts of current employees.
After a detailed investigation, Detective Dosh obtained a warrant for the arrest of Zappullo. Today, Zappullo was picked up on the warrant. He was charged with 9 misdemeanor counts and 21 felony counts related to his actions. He was booked into jail.
March 20, 2012
Two Miami men arrested for oil theft
Key Largo – Two Miami men were arrested and their semi-truck was seized after they were caught stealing used oil from Upper Keys restaurants.
Detective Sgt. David Carey received information at 5 a.m. today a white 2008 Peterbilt semi-truck was seen in the vicinity of the Fish House, D Hookers and McDonalds in Tavernier. In all three locations, after the truck was seen in the vicinity there was evidence of theft or attempted theft from used oil/grease containers there. The truck was reported to be headed northbound from Tavernier.
The information came from two investigators working for a company called Tallowmasters. The company, which collects used oil / grease from restaurants in the Keys has been the victim of recent thefts from their upper Keys restaurant accounts. The investigators were doing surveillance in an effort to catch those stealing from the company. They followed the truck and saw the two men as they stopped at all the locations and stole oil or tried to steal oil. They then continued following them and notified the Sheriff’s Office of what they had observed.
Detective Yunier Galvez stopped the truck at the 102 mile marker of the highway. The two men inside were 35 year old Pedro Gonzalez and 43 year old Eduardo Vega who work for a rival company, Avila Environmental in Miami. On the front seat of the truck was a battery powered drill; a drill had been used in an attempt to breach oil containers at the restaurants in question.
Detective Galvez asked the driver, Gonzalez, what he was doing in the Keys. Gonzalez said he was picking up used oil / grease from his company’s accounts. He had a list of the stops he was supposed to make; The Fish House, D Hookers and McDonalds were not on the list. He was confronted with the fact that he was seen at those three locations that were not on his list. He finally admitted to taking oil or attempting to take oil out of the containers at those restaurants by drilling into them. Both he and Vega said oil had been stolen from their accounts and they were taking oil from other containers to make up for it.
Vega also admitted to taking oil from locations not on their route on other occasions as well.
Both men were arrested. They were charged with two counts of criminal mischief, burglary, two counts each of grand theft and possession of burglary tools. They were booked into jail. More charges are pending in the previous cases of oil/grease theft.
The truck they used in their crimes was seized for possible forfeiture.
Man drives into the water; arrested for DUI
Cudjoe Key – A 26 year old Cudjoe Key resident drove his vehicle into the water early today; he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.
A witness told Deputy Andrew Hudson and Sgt. Tom Walker he followed Colby Covington’s truck from Big Pine Key, fearing he was impaired. He said as he approached the Kemp Channel Bridge at 12:30 a.m., the truck he was following disappeared. He slowed to see what happened and he saw a vehicle’s headlights in the water. Minutes later, he saw Covington climb out of the water.
When the officers arrived, Covington refused to give them any information. When told to stand up, he refused. On his way to Deputy Hudson’s patrol car, he stumbled and had to have help getting into the car. He refused field sobriety exercises and, once at the jail, refused to take a breath test for alcohol content. Sitting in a chair at the jail, he wet his pants and refused to cooperate with jail booking officers.
Finally, when confronted with threats of being put in a restraint chair at the jail, he began to cooperate with booking procedures. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a suspended driver’s license and failure to maintain a single lane.
March 19, 2012
Marathon woman says she was attacked at home
Marathon – A Marathon woman who lives in an apartment on 51st Street told deputies a man attacked her in her home early Sunday morning.
The 55 year old victim said she woke up around 3 a.m. to find a man standing over her holding a pillow. She said she screamed; he threw the pillow to the floor then grabbed her arms and slammed her head into the wall beside her bed.
She said she continued screaming and he fled from the apartment. A neighbor told deputies he heard the screams, looked outside and saw a man outside, moving quickly toward the street. He said he yelled something at him, then went to the aid of the victim.
When Deputy Jeffrey Deluca arrived on the scene, he found the victim bleeding from the back of the head. He called for an ambulance to check her injuries.
Detectives Bobby Burkett and John Underwood responded to further investigate the incident.
Anyone with information about this case should call the Sheriff’s Office at 305-289-2430. 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. Crime Stoppers tips can be called in to 1-800-346-TIPS or can be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.
March 17, 2012
Inmate dead in Stock Island jail
Stock Island – An inmate at the Stock Island Detention Center died today of apparent suicide.
44 year old Leonardo Hernandez of Stock Island was found hanging from the top bunk of his cell in the Alpha Unit of the Stock Island Detention Center shortly after noon today. The Alpha Unit of the Detention Center is the high profile and disciplinary unit of the Detention Center. Hernandez was in a cell by himself. He was in the Alpha Unit due to multiple disciplinary issues since his arrest in November of 2011.
Hernandez had been in jail since November 8, 2011, being held on multiple charges including violation of a no contact order, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving with license suspended – habitual offender and battery.
The Detention Deputy assigned to Unit Alpha was doing a regular check of the cell when he saw Hernandez with a sheet around his neck. He entered the cell and held Hernandez up, relieving pressure from his neck and called to a nurse who was in the unit doing her rounds. The nurse responded and untied the knot in the sheet. The two then performed CPR and called for other officers and for paramedics to respond.
Paramedics arrived and transported Hernandez to Lower Keys Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 1:02 p.m.
Sheriff’s detectives and investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be investigating the circumstances of Hernandez’ death. It is standard procedure for FDLE to become involved in any inmate death that does not appear to be of natural causes.
His body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for further investigation.
Grassy Key teen charged with burglary
Marathon – A Grassy Key teen has been charged with a December burglary in Marathon after a palm print found at the scene was identified as his.
The victims returned to their home on 107th Street after being gone for the weekend. They told Deputy Nicholas Abroe they found the door unlocked. Inside, they found a safe and a jewelry box with jewelry inside missing.
Evidence indicated the person who burglarized their home entered through a kitchen window. Deputy Abroe found a palm print and fingerprints on the kitchen window. The prints were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for processing.
FDLE identified the prints as belonging to 17 year old Kevin Bollig. On Friday, Bollig was served with a warrant charging him with burglary and grand theft.
March 15, 2012
Woman arrested for 2007 murder of Key Largo man
Investigators have made an arrest in the 2007 killing of Key Largo resident Edward Bozarth. His wife, Denise Bozarth, has been charged with first degree murder and is currently in custody in Walton County, Florida. She will be returned to Monroe County to face the charges.
The case, a joint investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement the State Attorney’s Office, and Upper Keys Sheriff’s Office road patrol has been a long haul for everyone from all agencies involved.
“The detectives who investigated this case worked hard to get to this point,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam, who made investigating Cold Cases such as this one a priority when he took office. “They should all be congratulated on a job well done. I’m excited about the outcome of the investigation and I couldn’t be prouder of all the agencies who worked this from start to finish.”
62 year old Edward Bozarth was found dead July 1, 2007 on board his boat, the “[SCREW] U 2”, docked at Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo. He lived on board the boat with his wife, Denise, 39 years of age, and their two children. His body was found in the starboard engine compartment, wrapped in a canvas sail storage bag. His head was covered with a towel. He’d been dead for approximately a week. The Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of an overwhelming odor from a man working on a nearby vessel.
When detectives entered the boat, they found the air conditioners had been set to 60 degrees. Bozarth had significant traumatic injuries to his face and head. The autopsy found he died of blunt force trauma to his head, and the death was ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiner.
Investigation revealed the Bozarths had been married for 9 years to Denise. A short time before Bozarth’s death, Denise had asked him for a separation; her parents picked up their children and took them to Defuniak Springs, Florida on June 16th. On June 23rd, Denise left Key Largo for Defuniak Springs, to join her children there. She told investigators that was the last day she saw her husband alive. Investigators interviewed Denise multiple times since then and said she made many inconsistent statements to them about what happened that day. At one point, Denise submitted to a polygraph examination, which she reportedly failed.
A witness, Bonnie Colon, who lived on board the vessel with the couple during the summer of 2007 told investigators Denise would speak to her daily about killing her husband, talking specifically about different ways she thought about doing it. Once she reportedly described killing him by hitting him over the head and pushing him in the water; another time she reportedly said she’d kill him while he was sleeping, wrap him in plastic and put him in the bilge of the vessel. The witness said Denise also talked to her about an inheritance Bozarth had gotten from his mother. Denise told her she would get the money upon his death. Investigators confirmed Bozarth had inherited a large sum of money and that Denise was, indeed, a beneficiary upon his death.
Colon told investigators Denise met with her on June 23rd and told her not to go near the boat and that Bozarth had left the area. She said Denise then left as well, and that was the last time Colon spoke to her.
A man who also lived at the marina, David Campbell, admitted to investigators he was having an affair with Denise prior to her husband’s death. He said at one point she offered him $10,000.00 for the murder of her husband, but he refused.
Today, Denise Bozarth was arrested in Walton County and was charged with first degree murder. She will be returned to Monroe County to face the charges.
March 14, 2012
One airlifted after fight
Marathon – An apparent fight between two brothers resulted in one of them being airlifted to Miami for head injuries Tuesday.
Deputies and detectives responded to Fishermen’s Hospital at 10:30 a.m. where hospital personnel reported a 31 year old Marathon man, Matthew Bussard, had sustained possible life-threatening head injuries and was being airlifted to a Miami hospital for treatment. Investigation revealed he’d been brought in to the hospital by his father and brother, who were visiting from Texas.
The father told Deputy Bradford Colen they were staying at Sombrero Resort; he said his two sons had gotten into a fight sometime around 4 a.m.; his son, Matthew had been injured during the fight and they’d driven him to the hospital for treatment.
Detectives responded and will be investigating the incident.
March 11, 2012
Armed Robbery at convenience store
Stock Island – Deputies and detectives responded to the Chevron gas station on Stock Island to investigate an armed robbery early today.
The clerk in the station’s convenience store told Deputy Joseph Cortner she was mopping at about 3 a.m. when a man wearing a ski mask confronted her, demanding money. She said she thought it was a joke at first, but after he showed her a handgun, she handed over cash from the register. He fled the store and she called for help.
She described the suspect as a white male, 20 – 30 years of age, about 5’6” to 5’8” tall with a medium build. He was wearing a black knit ski mask and black knit gloves, black long sleeve pull-over shirt and long blue jean shorts.
Detective Dave Chavka responded and will be continuing the investigation. Anyone with information about this case should contact him at 305-292-7060. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the tipster would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS or a tip can be made on line at tipsubmit.com.
Inmate dies at Stock Island jail
An inmate died at the Stock Island Detention Center of apparent natural causes.
Detective Manny Cuervo said there were no signs of foul play in the death of the 52 year old man, whose name is not being released until his family can be notified of his death. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. He was in sick bay in the facility due to numerous and extensive medical issues.
His death took place Friday night just after 10 p.m.; the on duty nurse checked on him and asked the sick bay officer to call for an ambulance due to his condition. A short time later, just before paramedics arrived, he stopped breathing. CPR was begun; when paramedics arrived in sick bay they continued CPR, transporting him to Lower Keys Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
He was in jail on drug charges; he was arrested in January of 2011 by Key West Police for sale of cocaine.
March 10, 2012
Drug Operation on Stock Island disrupted by arrests
Sheriff's detectives and the Special Weapons and Tactics Team disrupted a Stock Island drug operation Friday when they served two search warrants simultaneously, arresting six people on multiple drug related charges.
Colonel Rick Ramsay received information that drug activity was taking place and he asked Special Operations detectives to look into it. As they began their investigations, they realized the drug activity was not only taking place, but the drug sales were frequent. The information they were able to gather over a month's time led them to obtain two search warrants - one for 6415 2nd Street, Apartment B, and one for D-44 11th Avenue.
Ramsay, who was there when the searches were conducted, said this was a large drug sales operation.
“These people were very organized and were selling lots of drugs,” he said. “With this operation, we are making a significant dent in the sales of illegal drugs on Stock Island.”
He added that receiving information from citizens, and the partnership the Sheriff’s Office has with the law abiding people living and working in the Keys is important, especially in cases like this.
“We really need citizens to step up – to bring us information about illegal activity. By working together on cases like this one, citizens and law enforcement all come out winners,” he said.
At the 2nd Street location, the search revealed a crack cocaine lab as well as powdered cocaine, crack cocaine and 352 grams of marijuana packaged for individual sale. They also found $1,761.00 in cash believed to be the proceeds from drug sales. A Glock Model 26 handgun was also found. The resident of the apartment - Robert Brown - is a convicted felon and is not allowed to be in possession of weapons. Brown, along with Horace Calhoun, Clarence Moore, Jr. and Shamichael Johnson were all at the apartment and were all taken into custody.
While they were searching the apartment, detectives found what appeared to be a pipe bomb. Detective Sgt. Bobby Randolph, who heads up the Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad, responded. The apartment complex was evacuated while he removed the device, which was subsequently destroyed.
At the 11th Street residence, detectives found marijuana, Oxycontin, crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and a 9mm Ruger handgun. $1,032 in cash proceeds from drug sales was also seized. Two people - Tawana Blackman and Leroy Lawson were both arrested at that location.
Federal and state agencies that assisted with this investigation were Federal Bureau of Investigations, The Drug Enforcement Administration, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Immigration Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigators.
March 9, 2012
Blood at the scene of a burglary leads to suspect’s arrest
Key Largo – Blood samples collected at the scene of a Key Largo burglary in September of 2011 led to the arrest of a man for the crime.
The break in took place September 26th on Oakwood Avenue in the afternoon. The victim told Deputies Jacques Rozek and Kyle Page he left his house to pick his daughter up at school. When he returned a short time later, he found someone had broken the glass on his front door and had entered his home. There was broken glass all over the kitchen floor, and blood on the refrigerator.
The victim told the deputies he was having trouble with his brother-in-law, 28 year old Michael Fraley, and he thought Fraley may have been the one who broke in.
The deputies went to Fraley’s house on Largo Road. Fraley had injuries to his hand and shoulder which he said he got in a fight with his girlfriend. He agreed to give a sample of his DNA for comparison to the blood found at the burglary scene. The two DNA samples were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for comparison.
According to reports by Detective Barney Sajdak, the comparison of the two samples was returned from FDLE in January; the test confirmed Fraley as the person who left the blood at the burglary scene. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
On Thursday, Fraley was charged with burglary and criminal mischief. He was booked into jail.
March 5, 2012
Convenience store robbed at gunpoint
Key Largo – A convenience store – and one of its customers – was robbed at gunpoint Sunday afternoon.
The clerk and the customer both told Deputy James Warino a man wearing dark clothing, a blue hat, black gloves, sunglasses and a bandana over his face walked into the store just after 5 p.m. She told him he couldn’t wear the bandana in the store. He replied by lifting his shirt and showing her a handgun in his waistband. He told the clerk he wanted the money from the register. She told him there was none.
He then turned to a customer in the store and demanded money, saying “I’m desperate”. The customer handed over $2.00 and the suspect left the store.
A witness outside who saw the suspect walk in waited in his truck because he suspected a robbery was about to happen. He followed the suspect as he left the store and saw him get into a dark colored Saturn. He followed the car northbound, but finally lost it in traffic. He called the Sheriff’s Office and met with Deputy Warino to give him the information.
Detectives are investigating the case.
Alert neighbor foils burglary
Big Coppitt Key – An alert neighbor who called the Sheriff’s Office Sunday afternoon foiled a burglary attempt and helped put two suspects in jail.
Deputy Chris Duncan responded to a house on Luna Lane, Big Coppitt Key at 4:30. A neighbor called dispatchers to report someone was removing items from the house. The neighbor said the man who lives there is deceased and she didn’t think anyone else was supposed to be there.
Deputy Duncan found 53 year old Caryn Radziejewski and 55 year old Glen Lewis, both of Big Coppitt Key, standing beside a jeep with the doors open. A front window on the house was broken and the door was open. Several items from the house had been removed and loaded into the jeep.
Deputy Duncan asked the two what they were doing there. Radziejewski told him her friend “Dave” had died and she had permission from ”Dave’s” son who lives in California to take the items. She could not provide the son’s name or contact information.
A woman who lives at the residence was contacted by phone. She told Deputy Duncan no one has permission to be there or to take anything.
Both suspects were arrested; they were charged with burglary, theft and resisting arrest. Radziejewski was also charged with possessing marijuana after some of the illegal substance was found in her pocket.
March 4, 2012
Inmate dead of apparent natural causes
Stock Island – A female inmate died at the Stock Island jail Saturday of apparent natural causes.
52 year old Aracelia Miranda was in jail after being arrested February 3rd by Key West Police for possessing drug paraphernalia. She was in the facility’s sick bay on and off since her arrest for various medical issues. At 3 p.m. on Saturday, the on duty sick bay deputy and nurse noticed Miranda was lying very still in her cell. She didn’t respond when they spoke to her. When then entered the cell, they found she was not breathing. The officer called for help and they began performing CPR. As they waited for paramedics to arrive at the jail, they continued CPR and utilized an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in an attempt to revive her without success.
Miranda was taken to Lower Keys Hospital where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of her death.
Man found dead in burning vehicle
Conch Key – A 63 year old man from Clewiston, Florida was found dead today in the driver’s seat of his running vehicle, which was on fire.
Deputy Chuck Kellenberger was on patrol in the area at 4:15 a.m. when he was waved down by a Conch Key resident taking an early morning walk. The man told Deputy Kellenberger there was a white car parked in a vacant lot with the engine racing; he said he thought there was someone inside the car.
Deputy Kellenberger found a white Ford Escort; the headlights were off, emergency flashers were on and the engine was racing. The car was on fire, with flames coming from the rear tail pipe and the engine. He could see a man behind the steering wheel.
When he checked more closely, he found the man had blood on his chest from what appeared to be a gunshot wound in the same area; a revolver and a long gun were sitting beside him. He was dead.
The dead man’s foot was on the accelerator, so Deputy Kellenberger turned the car off. He called for assistance from Monroe County Fire / Rescue and called for detectives to respond to the scene. The case is under investigation as a possible suicide. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of the man’s death.
Marathon woman arrested burglarizing bar
Marathon- A Marathon woman was arrested early today after a nighttime employee of the Sunset Grill on Knight’s Key caught her stealing beverages from the Tiki Bar.
The employee told Sgt. Joel Slough he was cleaning just before 3 a.m. when he saw 35 year old Hayley Allison stealing Corona Beer and Red Bull energy drinks. He said as she was fleeing with the stolen items, she dropped them; that is when he caught her and called the Sheriff’s Office.
He told Sgt. Slough a car was waiting for Allison just outside a side gate of the property. He said the car fled when he caught Allison. As the sergeant was investigating the case, the vehicle returned. Driver, 19 year old Gerry Pinson, admitted to driving Allison to the bar. He said he didn’t know what she was going to do, but knew “something bad was going to happen”. Pinson had no driver’s license and was issued a notice to appear in court for driving with no license.
Allison told a number of different stories about why she was at the bar. After Sgt. Slough pointed out active surveillance cameras to her, she finally admitted being there to take the beverages. Allison was arrested. She was charged with burglary, theft and resisting arrest and she was booked into jail.
March 3, 2012
Woman charged with beating child
Key West – A 30 year old Rockland Key woman was arrested Friday, charged with beating a 9 year old girl.
The suspect, Shirnell Shuman, was caring for the girl at the time of the incident. She told Detective Manny Cuervo the girl was misbehaving so she disciplined her. She allegedly beat the girl with a sandal on her thighs and arms, leaving shoe print impressions on both of her upper thighs. She also hit the girl in the face numerous times; the girl suffered a bloody nose and contusions around her eye.
When the girl’s mother returned from work, she found her daughter injured. She called the Sheriff’s Office to report the crime. Detective Cuervo investigated the case, speaking with several witnesses, the victim and the suspect. Shuman was arrested, charged with cruelty toward a child. She was booked into jail.
Man charged with burglary, stolen auto and dealing in stolen property
Key Largo – A Quincy, Florida man is in jail charged with burglarizing a shed, stealing a vehicle and stealing and pawning several stolen items.
27 year old Peter Mack is accused of stealing a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche from a woman who lives on Morris Lane in Key Largo on July 30th, 2011. The victim woke to find the truck had been stolen overnight. She told Detective Robert Dosh she thought Mack was the suspect; she said he had been trespass warned from her business two days before and he’d called and threatened her. In addition, one of his friends called her and, despite the fact she said nothing to him about her truck, he told her he “had nothing to do with stealing her truck”. He also told her he was at Mack’s house when Mack had talked about stealing her truck to get back at her.
During the course of his investigation, Detective Dosh discovered Mack pawned two pieces of jewelry that were in the truck; one was pawned in Miami and one in Inverness, Florida. When he was recovering the pawned items, a pawn shop owner told him Mack had also pawned tools – a circular saw and a drill. Detective Dosh talked with neighbors of the victim. One of them discovered the tools had been taken from his tool shed.
The truck was recovered on September 1, 2011 by Miami Dade Police; it had been destroyed by fire – a fire suspected to be arson.
Based on the witness statements about what Mack said, and the evidence he’d pawned the stolen jewelry and the tools, Detective Dosh obtained warrants for Mack’s arrest. On Friday, Mack was booked into the Monroe County jail on charges of grand theft auto, two counts of grand theft and burglary.