Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

October 25, 2001

Two charged with drugs

Marathon – Two men were arrested Wednesday in Marathon for possessing marijuana and ecstasy pills.

Sheriff’s detectives from the Special Investigations Division spotted a car parked on 83rd Street in Marathon Wednesday shortly before 1 p.m. They knew one of the men inside the car, 23 year old Jean Paul Gonzalez, of Miami,  had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court. As they approached the car, they saw the other man, a 17 year old Marathon resident, throw a bag of what turned out to be 14 grams of marijuana onto the ground.

A search of the1999 Nissan turned up 50 ecstasy pills and 12 more grams of marijuana. Gonzalez was arrested for the warrant, and for possession of marijuana and ecstasy; the 17 year old was charged with possession of marijuana. Both were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.


October 23, 2001

Stock Island man charged with attempted murder

Stock Island – A Stock Island man attempted to kill one man with a machete, and severely injured another man Monday, apparently because he was enraged about losing his job.

34-year-old Landy Viera attacked the two victims at their place of employment, Car Keys Auto, at the intersection of Cross Street and U.S. One on Stock Island at 10:30 a.m. Monday. According to Deputy Cynthia Garcia, he was angry because one of the victims had fired him from his job there a week ago.

Viera got out of his car and began swinging a machete at 40-year-old Phillip Bethel, hitting him several times on the head, back and arms with the blunt edge of the weapon. As he was swinging the machete, he was reportedly yelling, “I’m going to kill you!” The victim ran away, but fell as he was running. Viera approached him as he lay on the ground, and he raised the machete up as if to strike him again, but the second victim, 17-year-old Chad Braschos, hit Viera with a paint scraper to stop him from striking Bethel.

At that point, Viera swung the machete at Braschos, striking him with the sharp edge of the blade in the forearm. Viera then fled, jumping into a car and driving away. Four witnesses who saw the entire incident assisted the two victims, and called the Sheriff’s Office for help. Braschos suffered a deep cut on his arm and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

A few minutes later, Viera gave himself up to a nearby Sheriff’s deputy, admitting to attacking the two men. HE said he threw the machete into some mangroves. The machete was not recovered. Viera was charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


October 22, 2001

Two men charged with marijuana possession

Islamorada – Sheriff’s detectives from the Special Investigations Division arrested two men Friday for possessing a large amount of marijuana.

Detectives received information that the two men may have been dealing in marijuana from their home at 77520 Overseas Highway, Lot #2. When the men arrived at that location Friday driving a rental car, the detectives asked them for consent to search the car. The men gave permission for the search. Inside the car, detectives found 11 pounds of marijuana inside two coolers. Also found was a semi-automatic rifle, and $1,080.00 in cash.

45-year-old William Norman and 21-year-old Eric Absten were both charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. The cash was seized for possible forfeiture.

Man wanted in Airport hoax bomb incident

Gayton, wanted for planting a hoax 
bomb at the Key West Airport

Key West – A homeless Key West man is wanted for planting a hoax bomb at the Key West Airport October 14th.

Detective Scott Robinson, a member of the Sheriff’s Bomb Squad, says 23 year old Adam Gayton deliberately placed a suitcase in front of the airport building, filled with items designed to look like a bomb. According to witnesses, Gayton rode up to the building on a bicycle with the suitcase. Went inside and borrowed a pen from the American Eagle ticket counter.

He then left the building and climbed on his bike, riding away without the suitcase. The suitcase was found a short time later hidden in bushes next to a door to the terminal. The Sheriff’s Bomb Squad responded, examined the suitcase and subsequently rendered it harmless. Further investigation and examination revealed it was a harmless hoax device made to look like a bomb.

Investigations led Detective Robinson to identify Gayton as a possible suspect. His photo was shown to a witness in a photo line up and he was identified as the man who rode his bike up to the terminal with the suitcase in question.

A warrant was obtained for his arrest on charges of planting a hoax bomb, a third degree felony with a possible penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.00. Bond on the warrant is set at $275,000.00. Anyone who knows were Gayton is should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. A tipster who has information which leads to Gayton’s arrest would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

October 18, 2001

Search Warrant leads to arrests

Islamorada – Detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigation’s Division arrested four people following a search warrant at an Islamorada apartment.

The search warrant was obtained after a month long investigation during which numerous drug purchases were made from 85361 Overseas Highway, apartment #3. As detectives approached the apartment at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, 30-year-old Thomas Holmes was walking down the stairs of the apartment building with two crack cookies in his hands. The crack weighed 37 grams total. He was placed under arrest, and the warrant was then served on his apartment.

His girlfriend, 29-year-old Yvonne Sherrod, another woman, 40-year-old Julie Ann Quarles, and a 16-year-old girl were all inside. The search revealed a drug lab set up in the kitchen where the group was in the process of making crack cocaine. Some of the illegal substance was cooling in a Pyrex dish full of water. Tests on the water itself revealed it was saturated with cocaine. Under those circumstances, detectives may charge a perpetrator with the total weight of the cocaine and the water it is sitting in. The total weight of the water and crack was 224 grams.

Holmes was charged with trafficking in cocaine, manufacturing crack cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with four counts of sale of cocaine because he sold the drug to an undercover operative on four different occasions.

Sherrod was charged with three counts of sale of cocaine and Quarels with two counts of sale of cocaine. Both made previous sales to the operative as well. The juvenile female was charged with possessing a small amount of marijuana.

$600.00 in cash was seized, along with two cars that had been used to deliver cocaine, a 1993 Mercury and a 1993 Mitsubishi.

All four were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

October 17, 2001

Search warrant served in Marathon

Marathon – Sheriff’s detectives from the Special Investigations Division served a search warrant this morning (Wednesday), arresting a Marathon man for possessing marijuana and cocaine.

The search warrant was served at 6:15 a.m. at 1040 81st Street in Marathon. Detectives searching the residence found 8.5 grams of cocaine in a kitchen drawer and 1,182 grams of marijuana in the refrigerator. Various items of drug paraphernalia were also found, and $12,208 in cash was seized from the house as well. A U.S. Border Patrol K-9 unit assisted in the house search.

26-year-old Oscar Zaldivar was arrested. He was charged with possession of the illegal substances and the drug paraphernalia. Detectives called for assistance from the Florida Marine Patrol after they found over 500 lobster tails at the residence. After examination of the tails, an FMP officer identified 150 short lobster tails and will be bringing additional charges as a result.

Zaldivar was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Sugarloaf Key man charged with raping, molesting girl

Monroe County – A Sugarloaf Key man is in jail charged with raping and molesting a young girl.

Detective Krissy Games, with the Sheriff’s Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit, arrested 50-year-old Gregory Scott Clark Monday. He was charged with Capital Sexual Battery, Sexual Battery and Lewd and Lascivious Molestation of a young girl.

According to Detective Games, Clark sexually molested the young victim numerous times between 1997 and September of this year. The victim told her mother, and the case was reported to the Sheriff’s Office for investigation.

Clark is in the Monroe County Detention Center being held on a $500,000 bond.

Reports related to terrorist threat tax Sheriff’s Office personnel

Monroe County – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and other emergency services are being taxed with the large numbers of calls being received about suspicious packages, and other calls related to the current terrorist threat to the United States.

Since the September 11th attacks, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 93 calls from people concerned either about suspicious persons, suspicious packages, or some type of suspicious activity they believe is connected somehow to the current terrorist threat. The breakdown is as follows (as of today (Wednesday) at Noon:

·       41 calls about suspicious packages or envelopes. 29 of those calls have been received since 10/14/2001 and 29 of those were people simply concerned about an envelope they received in the mail that was unusual in some way.

·       22 calls about suspicious persons. Generally the callers are concerned because they have seen “Arabic looking” or “Islamic looking” or “Muslim looking” people they feel are acting suspiciously.

·       9 calls about suspicious packages with powder on or inside them. All of these calls have been received since 10/14/2001.

·       8 calls about a suspicious substance found (other than in a package or envelope). 7 of those were received since 10/14/2001.

·       13 miscellaneous calls.


October 15, 2001

Chase leads to weapon and drug arrests

Middle/Lower Keys – Two men driving a stolen 2001 Lexus SUV fled from Florida Highway Patrol troopers and Sheriff’s deputies early Sunday. They were finally caught on Little Torch Key, where they were found to be in possession of a loaded firearm and drugs.

The silver colored SUV was spotted traveling at a high rate of speed by the Florida Highway Patrol north of Marathon. Just before 6 a.m. Sunday, deputies joined in the pursuit in Marathon, following the vehicle southbound on the seven-mile bridge. On several occasions, the driver of the Lexus pulled into the oncoming lane of traffic almost causing head on accidents.

The vehicle finally pulled off the highway on Little Torch Key. The two suspects inside jumped out of the car and fled into a wooded area. They jumped into  the water, but had trouble negotiating the swift current. They were finally pulled from the water and placed under arrest.

The driver, 22-year-old Warren Bruce Keller and the passenger, 20-year-old Dennis Henry Martinez, both of West Palm Beach, were arrested. A loaded .38 caliber revolver was found in an ankle holster strapped to Keller’s leg. Marijuana was also found in the car. A check on the Lexus revealed it had been stolen from Lake Worth, Florida. The Lexus had a tag on it stolen from a similar vehicle.

Keller was charged with grand theft auto, petit theft of the tag, reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, driving with a suspended license, aggravated assault, grand theft auto, carrying a concealed firearm, resisting arrest without violence and possession of marijuana. Martinez was charged with being an accessory after the fact to grand theft auto, petit theft, resisting arrest without violence, and possession of marijuana.

Both men were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Bay Point man charged with making bomb threat

Key West – A Bay Point man was arrested Saturday and charged with making a false bomb threat at the Key West Airport.

20-year-old Jeffery Fitch is an employee of Island City Flying Service. According to witnesses, Fitch was fueling an aircraft at 3:45 p.m. Saturday when he made a comment about placing a bomb under one of the seats in the aircraft he was fueling. The comment was reported to deputies working at the airport and Fitch was placed under arrest. The plane was searched and no device was found. Fitch was charged with making a hoax bomb threat and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Nursery owner finds pet bird’s head

Big Pine Key – A Big Pine Key man called the Sheriff’s Office to report finding the head of his pet parrot sitting outside the parrot’s cage on his front porch.

He said the parrot, a 20-year-old Amazon, was kept in a cage on his patio. When he woke up Saturday morning, he walked outside and found the parrot’s head beside the cage. There were feather’s scattered around inside the cage, but no feathers or blood anywhere else. The pin that holds the cage door closed was sitting beside the cage, and the door was shut. The body of the parrot was not found.

Deputies are investigating.

Bomb Squad explodes suspicious suitcase

Key West – The Sheriff’s Office bomb squad was called to the Key West Airport Sunday night to check out a suspicious suitcase found in front of the terminal.

According to reports by Deputy Hugh Gibson, a man was seen riding a bicycle up to the terminal at 9:30 p.m. carrying a suitcase. He went to an airline counter, used an ink pen, then left on the bicycle without the suitcase, which was found later hidden in some bushes beside a terminal door.

The terminal was evacuated as a safety precaution and air traffic was temporarily suspended. Detective Sgt. Bobby Randolph responded from the bomb squad. After examining the package, he moved it a short distance away from the terminal then rendered it safe. Upon examination, he said he believes someone placed a device inside the suitcase that was deliberately built to resemble a bomb.

Detectives will be investigating.


October 9, 2001

Burger King robbed at gunpoint

Marathon – Sheriff’s deputies, detectives and two helicopters searched the area surrounding the Marathon Burger King restaurant Monday night for two men who robbed the business at gunpoint.

According to the victim, who is a clerk at the restaurant, she was inside the office at 10:15 p.m. when two men smashed the drive through window with a rock. They climbed inside, and demanded money from the restaurant’s safe. One of the men was armed with a black colored handgun. Both men had covered their faces with black colored pantyhose.

Once the victim handed over the cash, the two men left the scene and she called the Sheriff’s Office to report the crime.

A Custom’s helicopter which was already in the area joined deputies and detectives in a search for possible suspects. The Sheriff’s Office KnightStar helicopter also assisted, along with a Border Patrol K-9 unit and officers from Florida Highway Patrol. No suspects were apprehended.

The victim described the robbers as two black males, approximately five foot six inches tall and 130 pounds. They were dressed in black.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 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 reward of up to $1,000.00. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.


October 4, 2001

Stolen vehicle recovered. Two arrested

Marathon – The owner of a vehicle reported stolen in September called the Sheriff’s Office after he passed his stolen car on the seven-mile bridge Tuesday afternoon.

The Marathon man was traveling southbound on the bridge when he passed his stolen Volvo, which was headed northbound. He’d reported the car stolen on September 28th from a condo on Sombrero Boulevard.

The victim called the Sheriff’s Office to report seeing his car. The black 2001 Volvo was stopped by deputies in front of a trailer park on 37th Street in Marathon. Two people inside were taken into custody without incident. 38-year-old Timothy Holmes and 39 year old Virginia Taylor were both charged with grand theft auto and they were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The Volvo will be returned to the owner.

Man charged with stealing car, credit cards. Missing South Carolina girl found.

Marathon – Marathon deputies who responded to a report of a stolen purse Wednesday wound up arresting a Tampa man on numerous charges.

A woman reported having her purse and credit cards stolen from her car at the Sombrero Country Club Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. An employee of the Club gave Deputy Lin Badman a description of a man who’d been in the area earlier acting suspiciously. The employee said the man was parked next to the victim’s car, in some type of red sporty looking car. A report was completed and the victim was advised to call her credit card companies to report her cards stolen.

At 9:40 p.m., Deputy Badman was dispatched to the Seaward Motel in Marathon, where one of the victim’s stolen cards had been used. The front desk clerk said the man who used the card had checked into the motel, but was not there at the time. He returned to the room a short time later. Deputies knocked on the door, and 26-year-old Christopher Cox answered. He fit the description of the man who used the stolen credit card, and the man who was at the Country Club earlier in the day.

Cox admitted to using the stolen credit cards to charge $282 worth of merchandise at a number of locations in Marathon., including K-Mart, Citgo, Winn Dixie and the Panda House restaurant.

A 16-year-old girl was in the room with him. Computer checks revealed she was reported missing by her parents from Greenville, South Carolina. She was taken to the Children’s Shelter in Plantation Key and will be turned over to the custody of her family.

A check on the 1993 Subaru station wagon Cox was driving revealed it had been stolen from South Carolina. A computer check on Cox revealed he had an outstanding warrant from Hillsborough County for failure to appear in court.

Cox was charged with burglary, theft, fraudulent use of credit cards, grand theft auto, and being a fugitive and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.