Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

May 31, 2001

DL Checks on Stock Island

Lower Keys – Sheriff’s deputies will be performing driver’s license checks Friday and Saturday nights in various locations on Stock Island.

The checks will be taking place between the hours of 7:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. in the vicinity of Key Haven Road, 5th Street on Stock Island and Shrimp Road on Stock Island. Deputies will be stopping drivers and checking for valid driver’s licenses. If a person’s license is not valid, appropriate action will be taken.

If a driver is intoxicated, he or she will be arrested and taken to jail.


May 29, 2001

Accidents over the holiday weekend

Monroe County – The holiday weekend was a busy one for accidents, with 59 reported county wide to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers between Friday morning and Tuesday morning, according to a search done in Sheriff’s Office computers.

The search, using information entered by Sheriff’s dispatchers as calls came in over the weekend, may not be completely accurate, but can be used as a yardstick when gauging the pace of activity over the busy holiday weekend.

From minor parking lot crashes to vehicle rollovers, area law enforcement agencies were kept busy, particularly in the upper Keys. Out of the 59 accidents reported, 43 of them occurred from Long Key north to the 18 mile stretch. Eleven occurred in the middle Keys, with only 5 being reported from Big Pine Key south to Stock Island.

According to preliminary information, thirteen of the 59 accidents involved some level of physical injury to the people involved in them. Twenty-nine of the collisions were handled by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, 28 by the Florida Highway Patrol and two by Key West Police.

Most notable among the accidents reported, according to Sheriff’s dispatchers:

·       A five car accident with a roadblock Friday afternoon at 2:22 p.m. at the 107.9 mm (handled by FHP).

·       A three car accident with injuries at the 107 mile marker at 2 p.m. Saturday  (handled by FHP).

·       A four car accident with minor injuries and a slight road block at the 84 mile marker at 3:30 p.m. Saturday  (handled by FHP).

·       A vehicle versus pedestrian accident with injuries Sunday at 2:07 p.m. at the 101 mm (handled by FHP).

·       A vehicle versus pedestrian accident with injuries Sunday at 5:08 p.m. at the 94.8 mile marker  (handled by FHP).

·       A three car accident with minor injuries and a road block at the 83 mile marker Sunday at 8:06 p.m.  (handled by FHP)

·       A vehicle versus a Key Deer Monday at 6:20 a.m. at the 26 mile marker, resulting in the death of the deer (handled by the Sheriff’s Office).

·       Two vehicles and an overturned boat with leaking fuel at the 69.5 mile marker Monday at 6:35 a.m.  (handled by FHP)

·       A single vehicle rollover accident at the 115 mile marker Monday at 5:10 p.m., involving injuries  (handled by FHP).

·       A single vehicle, motorcycle accident involving injuries at the 75.4 mile marker Tuesday (today) at 3:48 a.m. (handled by FHP).

Man found floating may be man from Cuba

Lower Keys – The body of a man found floating in the water off of Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West may be that of a Cuban refugee.

Detective James Norman says he has checked for other local missing person reports in an attempt to find a match, with no results. He says the black Hispanic male may very well be a refugee who attempted to make the crossing from Cuba.

An autopsy of the body was inconclusive about the cause of death because the body was severely decomposed. There were no serious injuries evident on the body, however. Detective Norman said the body may have been in the water as long as four or five days. The detective is attempting to make an identification. The case will very likely be turned over to Border Patrol for further investigation.

Teens caught in the act of business burglary

Big Pine Key – Two Big Pine Key teens were arrested Monday after a deputy spotted them acting suspiciously.

Deputy Manuel Cuervo was on routine patrol at 5:30 p.m. on Big Pine Key when he spotted the two boys. They were crouched down behind the Winn Dixie Plaza, and fled when they saw him looking at them.

They were found a short distance away. Investigations revealed one of them had a hammer, and both had gloves which had red paint on them. Further investigation revealed the back door of the Big Pine Laundry at the plaza had been removed from it’s hinges. Paint transfer on the gloves matched paint on the door.

17 year old Raymond Chojnowksi and 16 year old Christopher Benshetler were both placed under arrest for burglary. Benshetler was also charged with possession of burglary tools. They were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center then released to the custody of their parents.

Stock Island woman arrested for stabbing roommate

Stock Island – A Stock Island woman who stabbed her roommate in the chest Saturday in the early morning hours was arrested. The victim only sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

Deputy John Allen responded to a residence on Maloney Avenue at 12:30 p.m. When he arrived, the victim told him his roommate, 58 year old Rosa Hernandez, had stabbed him with a filet knife in the chest. He had a small wound in the center of his chest which was treated on the scene.

Hernandez told Deputy Allen she and the victim got into an argument and he pushed her out of her wheelchair. She said she got back in to the chair, went into the kitchen and got the filet knife. She said she held it at head level, and when he tried to push her again, he ran into the knife.

She told the deputy she did not mean to stab him, and if she had meant to stab him “he wouldn’t be walking.”

Hernandez was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. She was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Two arrested for store theft

Big Pine Key – Deputies, assisted by the Sheriff’s Office helicopter, arrested two people involved in stealing a large amount of merchandise from a Big Pine Key department store.

Employees of the Beall’s department store on Big Pine Key called the Sheriff’s Office Friday just after 11 a.m. to report a theft in progress at the store. Deputies arrived at the rear entrance and met with the store’s loss prevention officer. They all watched on a security monitor as two men and a woman loaded store merchandise into a suitcase also belonging to the store. One man then left the store and got into a black Ford Mustang outside, pulling it up to the entrance. The other man left the store carrying the suitcase, and got into the car. The car left the parking lot. Deputies rushed to their cars in an effort to head them off, but were not able to catch the car before it left. A witness in the parking lot did obtain the car’s license tag, however.

Marathon resident Yamira Julia Mayo, who remained in the store after the two men left, was placed under arrest for grand theft. Deputies in the area, along with the Sheriff’s Office helicopter, began searching for the two men and the car.

The helicopter spotted the car a short time later, parked at a remote trap yard near No Name Key. The driver, 32 year old Pablo Elier Gonzalez, of Marathon, was found walking a short distance away and was arrested for Grand theft and fleeing and eluding police.

Investigations are continuing in an effort to identify and arrest the third person involved in the theft. Store employees estimate that $600.00 worth of merchandise was stolen from the store.


May 22, 2001

Stock Island man charged with false imprisonment, burglary

Stock Island – A Stock Island man was arrested Sunday, charged with entering a woman’s apartment and holding her there against her will.

The victim told Deputy John Gabay her ex-boyfriend, 33 year old Gustavo Monzon, came to her apartment and knocked on the door at 11:30 p.m. Sunday. When she refused to let him in, he climbed through a window. She tried to flee from the apartment, but he refused to let her leave, pulling her back inside. A neighbor saw what was happening and called the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Gabay arrived minutes later and found Monzon still on the scene. He was arrested, charged with burglary, false imprisonment and battery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Miami man charged with burglary, grand theft

Marathon – A Miami man was charged Sunday with burglary and grand theft after he was caught stealing bicycles from a Marathon home.

An alert citizen saw 18 year old Anibal Vezzoso of Miami stop on 110th Street in Marathon, remove a bike from the back of his truck, wipe it off and leave it leaning up against a guardrail. The witness thought the actions were suspicious, and flagged down a passing detective to report it.

Deputy Steven Mahmood arrived as back up. His investigations revealed that Vezzoso had just stolen two bikes from a house on Porpoise Drive in Marathon. Vezzoso told the deputy he climbed over a fence and removed the two mountain bikes, putting them in the truck. He also admitted to stealing a bike from the city of Key West earlier in the day.

Vezzoso was charged with burglary and two counts of grand theft. The bikes stolen from Porpoise Drive were returned to their owner. When Sheriff’s dispatchers checked with Key West Police, they were told no bikes had been reported stolen in Key West that day. The remaining bike, a men’s “Giant Rincon” mountain bike, is currently at the Key Vaca Substation.

Missing man spotted in Brooksville, Florida

Monroe County – Detective Larry O’Neill, investigating a missing person’s case, says the missing man was recently spotted having a beer in Brooksville, Florida.

“I believe he’s all right, but I would like to find out where he is staying, so I can have law enforcement confirm that,” said Detective O’Neill.

The detective received a call recently from a friend of 75 year old Julius Fine, who was reported missing May 9th. The friend said he saw Fine last Wednesday having a beer at the Moose Lodge in Brooksville, Florida. According to that friend, Fine periodically visits Brooksville. He could not tell the detective where Fine might be staying.

The last sighting of Fine in the Keys was at the Publix grocery store in Key Largo May 2nd. He was seen by friends sitting on a bench in front of the store. The friends began worrying about him when they didn’t see him again for several days. A check of his apartment turned up no indication of his whereabouts.


May 21, 2001

Search warrant results in two arrests

Key Largo – A search warrant, served by the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division, resulted in the arrest of two Key Largo residents Friday morning.

The search warrant was served at 6:30 a.m. at 439 4th Road in Key Largo. Detectives knocked and announced their presence. When they entered, they found 31 year old Joseph Burgin in the bathroom, attempting to flush marijuana down the toilet. Approximately 200 grams of marijuana were found in the house, along with drug paraphernalia and $3,200 cash and two guns, a shotgun and a handgun. A bottle of an unknown type of pills was also found. The pills will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to be identified.

Marijuana residue was also found in Burgin’s Ford pickup truck. The truck was seized for possible forfeiture.

Burgin was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with evidence. His girlfriend, 34 year old Paula Wittke, was also arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

May 18, 2001

Attempted Robbery First State Bank, Summerland Key

Summerland Key - Alert employees at the First State Bank on Summerland Key foiled a robbery attempt today (Friday) just before noon.

Employees of the bank saw a man just outside the bank at 11:45 a.m. He was reportedly kneeling down by the ATM machine outside the front door, putting what looked like a mask on his face. They quickly locked the door, keeping him from entering the building. They then called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident.

When the would-be robber realized what had happened, he jumped over a railing in front of the bank and fled on foot toward the rear of the bank building.

In the brief time they saw the suspect, employees did register some descriptive details. He was a white male, medium height and weight. He was wearing long, dark colored pants, a long sleeved, dark green shirt or jacket, and an unknown type of hat.

Anyone with information about this robbery attempt, or about the identity of a possible suspect, should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 305-292-7075. 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 monetary reward. The Crime Stoppers Hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

May 17, 2001

Man apprehended after kidnapping his own son

Big Coppitt Key – A parental kidnapping case has a happy ending today. A mother and her  two year old son will soon be reunited after he was recovered at a California airport Wednesday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The boy’s father, who was trying to take him out of the country, is currently in federal custody.

The boy’s father, 51 year old Melvin Jenkins of Big Coppitt Key, took the boy from his mother, 37 year old Shin-Mei Wang Sunday. She has legal custody of the boy. She called the Sheriff’s Office to report that Jenkins left a letter saying he was going to take the boy out of the country to Taiwan

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit were assigned to the investigation. They contacted the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for assistance. Investigations revealed that Jenkins’ parents live in Rockford, Illinois. Detective Chris Scott called the Rockford Police Department and asked them to drive by the parent’s house. They found Jenkin’s car parked at the residence, but Jenkins was already gone.

Detectives traced Jenkins movements, finally narrowing their search to an American Airlines flight out of Chicago. The flight had a stop over in San Jose, California at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The FBI was at the airport when the plane landed. They caught Jenkins as he left the plane, taking him into custody.

“I can’t give enough credit to the local office of the FBI. They really helped us out with this case. We are all just so happy this story turned out to have a happy ending,” said Detective Scott.

Employees of the Florida Department of Children and Families were on hand in San Jose, and took custody of the boy. They will fly him back to the Florida Keys to be reunited with his mother.

Jenkins faces Florida state charges of interference with custody and taking a child out of state in violation of a court order. He may also face federal charges of parental kidnapping.


May 15, 2001

Big Pine teen charged with burglary

Big Pine Key – A Big Pine Key teen was arrested Monday and charged with burglarizing a car.

14 year old Shane Arthur Stevens is accused of taking a car stereo system out of the 1989 Chevy Camaro on April 29th. The car was parked on Avenue D, Big Pine Key at the time of the incident. Investigations by Detective Reace Thompson, assisted by Detectives Scott Robinson and Ben Lowe, revealed that Stevens had the stereo equipment.

During questioning by detectives Stevens admitted to the break in. He was charged with burglary and grand theft and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center. He is currently in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. The stereo was recovered and returned to the owner.

May 10, 2001

Three boys charged with raping young girl

Marathon – Three teenage boys were arrested Wednesday, charged with raping a 13 year old girl May 3rd after she consumed a large amount of alcohol.

Two of the boys admitted to Detective Krissy Games that the three of them raped her as she lay on the floor of a “tree fort” at one of the boy’s homes. The victim is 13 years old.

The victim said she and the boys went to one boy’s home on 68th Street where she consumed a number of alcoholic beverages. She said she remembers going to the tree fort next door to the house where she became disoriented. She remembers telling the boys “no” as one of them pulled her pants off, and remembers seeing condom packages on the floor.

After the rape, the boys say they tried to walk the victim home, but she was so intoxicated she could not walk. Her mother found them just before 9 p.m. as they struggled down the street with her and she called for assistance. At the time, the boys said they’d found her in the parking lot of Domino’s Pizza. They said they saw a car leaving at a high rate of speed and believed she’d been dropped off by that car.

The girl was taken to Fisherman’s Hospital where she was treated and released. Her blood alcohol level was extremely high, and she had numerous injuries on her arms and legs.

16 year old Sophea Seng, 14 year old Brandon Smith and 14 year old Carlos Delahoz were all arrested and charged with sexual battery. All three were booked, then released to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The case was investigated by detectives from the Sheriff’s Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit.