Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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


February 28, 2003

Deputies pull unconscious woman from condo fire

Marathon – Deputies pulled an unconscious woman from a fire in her condominium Thursday night. One deputy was treated for smoke inhalation and another for minor injuries he received during the rescue.

Joan Walker Cummins was unconscious when Deputies Jake Brady and Joel Slough pulled her through a broken sliding glass door at the rear of her condo. She is currently being treated at the Miami Burn Center. She was transferred there in the early morning hours from Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon. She is reportedly suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.

They’d responded to reports of a fire at Country Club Condos on Sombrero Boulevard in Marathon at 10:30 p.m. When they arrived, they learned there was someone trapped inside. Deputy Sonya Morgan had already attempted to enter the condo through the front door, but she was overcome by smoke. She was treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation.

Deputy Brady approached the condo from the rear and found a neighbor trying to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose through a broken sliding glass door. The deputy could see Cummins inside, lying on the floor. He and Deputy Slough entered and were able to carry her outside. She was breathing but unconscious.

Fire Marshal Wally Romero is investigating the cause of the fire.

First “E-Mail” Crime Stopper Tip Arrest

Big Coppitt Key - A fugitive is in the Monroe County Detention Center thanks to an e-mail tip delivered to Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. 

The tip directed Sheriff’s Deputies to a residence on Big Coppitt Key where 25-year old Michael G. Boyett was staying.  Boyett is wanted for violation of probation stemming from charges of grand theft auto, leaving the scene of an accident with damages, and attempting to elude officers. Deputy David Lariz took Boyett into custody Tuesday night without incident.

The tipster in this case spotted Boyett’s name on the outstanding warrants section of the Sheriff’s website.  The website provides a link to Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys.  The tipster simply e-mailed the tip about Boyett’s location.  Crime Stoppers alerted Deputies, resulting in Boyett’s apprehension.

Boyett is now in the Detention Center and is held under a fifty thousand dollar bond.  The case marks the first time locally that an e-mail Crime Stopper tip has resulted in an arrest.  “The outstanding warrant list and Crime Stopper e-mail option on our website gives law enforcement yet another crime fighting tool,” said Sheriff Richard Roth.

The e-mail tipster in this case will receive a reward determined by the Crime Stopper’s civilian board of directors. Crime Stoppers pays up to one thousand dollars for tip information that leads to an arrest.  So far this year, Crime Stopper tips have resulted in six arrests and the closure of eleven felony cases in the Keys.  The Crime Stoppers anonymous hotline is 1-800-346-8477.  Tipsters can also contact Crime Stoppers through the Sheriff’s website at or via email at

Date: February 25, 2003

Corrections Officer arrested for contraband

Key West – A Corrections Officer with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was arrested today (Tuesday) after an investigation revealed he had smuggled tobacco and marijuana into the main Detention facility on Stock Island.

26 year old John Pita has been charged with introducing contraband into a Detention facility and with perjury. He was booked into the detention center on Stock Island at noon today, and was released almost immediately after posting a $5,000.00 bond.

The investigation into his activities began in November of 2002 when an inmate reported to a Corrections Sergeant that an officer was bringing tobacco products and marijuana into the facility. The case was assigned to investigators with the Sheriff’s Internal Affairs Unit. The inmate could not specifically identify the corrections officer, but he gave investigators the location of the contraband, which was later found during a “shakedown” of that particular area of the jail. Further investigation revealed the officer in question to be Pita.

Pita was confronted about the accusations and denied bringing in the contraband. Interviews with several other inmates also indicated that Pita had brought in tobacco and marijuana. Pita finally admitted to bringing a package containing what he thought was tobacco and a cigarette lighter into the facility and giving it to an inmate. He said in exchange, he was paid $50.00.

Pita has been suspended without pay pending a termination hearing scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday).

Sheriff’s Office to offer free car washes

Stock Island – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be offering FREE car washes this Saturday for residents of Stock Island who have been plagued by dust from street projects in that area recently.

Deputy Matt Dowling and a group of Sheriff’s Office Cadets will be at the Stock Island Chevron Station Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. washing cars. Anyone who wishes to take them up on this generous offer may do so.

“We just want to show that we are giving something back to the community on Stock Island,” said Deputy Dowling. “Many neighborhoods on Stock Island have been putting up with construction and street work for months now. Their cars are getting filthy from the dust, and we would like to offer them a free car wash.”

Dowling has been acting as the Community Policing Officer for the Stock Island area, and has been responsible for many clean up projects in that area, including the clean up of the bicycle path along Highway U.S. One, and the clean up of the Key Haven boat ramp area. He says the Stock Island Chevron Station has generously offered to allow their property to be used for Saturday’s activities.

The Sheriff’s Office Cadet/Explorer Group, Post 904, has volunteered to spend their time and energy washing cars Saturday. The car wash itself is free, but anyone who has their car washed is welcome to make a donation to the Post.

February 20, 2003

Origin of mystery bone is discovered

Key Largo – The origins of a bone found at a construction site in Key Largo have been discovered and the mystery is solved, according to Sheriff’s detectives.

The property was recently sold to new owners because the previous owner, Joe Hackney, died. Hackney’s son called Detectives Larry O’Neill and James Norman after seeing a story about the bone in the Keynoter newspaper Saturday. He told them he knew where the bone came from: a graveyard in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He said when he was ten years old, he and a friend found it and brought it home. The bone broke while they were playing with it, and he was able to describe to Detective Norman what the bone looked like and where it was broken.

He said his father took the bone away from him when they moved from Louisiana to Tennessee in the late 60s. He said he just assumed his father had thrown it away, but when he read about the bone in the newspaper, he realized his father had kept it for some reason.

“It is always nice when a mystery is solved,” said Detective Norman. “His description of the bone convinced me he was telling the truth. The bone was part of an above-ground gravesite in Louisiana the two boys found.”

The bone is now in the custody of the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Burglary sting leads to arrest

Key Largo – A burglar was foiled in his attempt to break in to a Key Largo business after detectives heard about his plans and set up a sting operation.

Detective Dillon Corr received information that 18 year old William Hume was planning to break in to Boater’s World in Key Largo Tuesday night. The owner of the business was contacted and a sting operation was set up to catch Hume in the act.

Tuesday night, detectives waited inside the store with the back door unlocked and the alarm system turned off. When Hume entered the store, just before 10 p.m., he was taken into custody. A search of his pockets turned up a pipe used to smoke crack cocaine. He was charged with burglary, attempted theft and possession of drug paraphernalia and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 13, 2003

Tavernier man arrested after search warrant

Tavernier - A Tavernier man was arrested Tuesday after a search warrant at his residence turned up powdered cocaine and marijuana.
Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Unit say they served the search warrant after several purchases of powdered cocaine were made from 32 year old Robert Senteno, Jr.s home on Hood Avenue. The search turned up 50 grams of powdered cocaine in a drawer in his bedroom and marijuana sitting in plain view on a kitchen table. Several items of drug paraphernalia were also found including rolling papers, pipes and an electronic scale.
Senteno was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Marathon man charged with drug possession

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested in the early morning hours Wednesday after he was found to be in possession of crack cocaine.
Deputy Chuck Kellenberger was on foot patrol in the area of  42nd Street at 2:45 a.m. when he spotted a van parked at the end of the street with the dome light on and the keys in the ignition. He waited until the driver returned, then asked if he was in the area to purchase drugs.
49 year old David Neil Banfield said he was not in the area for that purpose. When Deputy Kellenberger asked permission to search the van, Banfield agreed. As the deputy was searching, he saw Banfield reach into his pocket and toss something on the ground. The item turned out to be a piece of cellophane with seven crack cocaine rocks inside.
When the deputy placed Banfield under arrest for possession of the illegal substance, he began to struggle. Backup arrived and he was subdued, and further charged with resisting arrest. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Creative shoplifters arrested at Home Depot

Marathon - Three Marathon men were arrested after they stole over $200.00 worth of merchandise from the Home Depot store in Marathon.
Deputy Greg Korzen was called to Home Depot just before 7 p.m. When he arrived, the store's loss prevention manager told him he'd detained three men for shoplifting. He said he saw the men load a bathtub onto a shopping card. Then then put a faucet and other plumbing supplies into the bathtub through a hole in the cardboard surrounding it. After concealing the items in the bathtub, they put a toilet on top of the tub to conceal the hole in the cardboard and went to the checkout counter.
The three men paid for the visible merchandise, leaving the store without paying for the other items concealed inside.
18 year old Ricardo Gonzalez, 44 year old Jorge Martinez and 43 year old Gustavo Sanchez were all arrested for retail theft. They were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Man charged with burglary to boat

Islamorada - A man who lists himself as homeless was arrested for burglarizing a boat in Islamorada Wednesday.
Witnesses saw 23 year old George Rosendale, Jr. get on a boat parked on San Juan Drive in Islamorada at 5 p.m. He was attempting to remove fishing poles from the boat when he was confronted by a witness to the attempted theft. Rosendale told the witness the boat was owned by a friend. He then dropped the fishing poles and fled the scene driving a gold colored Acura.
The Sheriff's Office was notified about the incident and a notice to be on the lookout for the car was sent out over police radios. Deputy Jose Carballo spotted the car in the parking lot of McDonald's restaurant in Tavernier. The witness positively identified Rosendale and the man who tried to steal the poles. Rosendale was in possession of a suspended driver's license when he was arrested. A search of his vehicle also turned up drug paraphernalia. He was charged with burglary, attempted petit theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a suspended driver's license. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 10, 2003

Two men charged with stealing two vans

Long Key – Two stolen vans were recovered Sunday and two men arrested for stealing them.

Deputy Wilfredo Guerra responded to Long Key State Park to a report that a park ranger was pursuing two vehicles that did not pay to get in the park, and were driving recklessly on park property. When Deputy Guerra arrived, Sheriff’s dispatchers informed him the two vehicles in question, both vans, might be two vehicles reported stolen earlier in the day.

Deputy Guerra, assisted by a Florida Highway patrol trooper, managed to safely get all five subjects in the two vans out and on the ground. They were then handcuffed for officer safety reasons. Further investigation revealed both vans were, indeed stolen. One had been stolen from the parking lot of the Eckerd Drug Store in Islamorada; the other from the parking lot of Jo Jo’s Restaurant on Grassy Key.

The two drivers, 16 year old Michael Medina and 16 year old Manuel Chavarria, both of Miami, were arrested and charged with grand theft auto. They were further charged with criminal mischief because the ignitions of both vehicles had been broken when they were stolen. A check on their driver’s license status revealed both had been suspended, so they were also charged with driving with a suspended license.

The owners of the vehicles responded to the scene to retrieve their vehicles. The two boys were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center. The three passengers in the vans were released.

Man charged with animal cruelty

Fiesta Key – A Rochester, New York man was arrested Saturday and charged with animal cruelty for duct taping his dog’s muzzle shut to keep the dog from barking.

Deputy Greg Korzen responded to the Fiesta Key campground just after 9 p.m. to reports of a man mistreating his dog. When he arrived, he found the medium sized mixed breed dog with duct tape wrapped tightly around its muzzle. The dog was on a short chain and was whining; it had no food or water available.

The manager of the campground said the dog was barking, and he told the dog’s owner, 47 year old Michael Muehleisen, to take care of the dog because it was disturbing other campers. Muehleisen, who was drinking in the pub at the campground, left, put the duct tape on the dog’s muzzle, them returned to the pub, telling the manager he took care of the dog.

Deputy Korzen found Muehleisen still at the pub. He arrested him for animal cruelty and booked him into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Two arrested for possessing marijuana after traffic stop

Marathon – Two Key West residents were arrested for possessing a large amount of marijuana after their car was pulled over for having an expired license tag.

Deputy Greg Korzen was on patrol at 3:25 a.m. Sunday when he saw a silver Ford station wagon in the vicinity of 46th street with expired tags. He pulled the car over. There were two people inside.

Deputy Korzen noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming from inside the car. When he asked the two men about it, one of them pulled out a small bag of marijuana and handed it to the deputy. Deputy Korzen then asked for permission to search the vehicle. The men agreed to the search.

Under the front passenger seat of the car were two bags of marijuana with a total of 108 grams of marijuana inside. The two men, 20 year old Nicholas Posada and 21 year old Stephen Welsh, were arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. They were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 7, 2003

Sheriff’s detectives looking for fraud suspect

Monroe County – Sheriff’s detectives are looking for a man accused of defrauding a Big Pine Key couple out of $12,000.00.

The man, 47 year old Darwin Eldridge Singleton, was reportedly selling spas at the Big Pine Flea Market when he met and sold a spa to the victims. They paid him for a spa, giving him $1,500.00, followed by $1,000.00 and an Atocha Coin valued at $500.00 for the balance. The spa was subsequently delivered to their Big Pine Key home. Singleton told them he was the manufacturer of the spas and that his business was called Island Spas, located in Medley, Florida. He offered the victims a partnership in his business in return for $12,000 in cash. The victim’s agreed, and wrote him two checks, the first for $3,000.00 to Island Spas. The second check was written for $9,000.00 to Singleton personally.

On January 29th, the victims called Island Spas and talked to the real owner, who told them Singleton was just a spa salesperson for the business. The victims then called the Sheriff’s Office and a detective was assigned to the investigation.

The detective spoke with the owner of Island Spas and learned that Singleton gave him the $3,000 check written to Island Spas in payment for the spa that was delivered to the victim’s on Big Pine Key. No other money was paid to Island Spas, but the detective checked with the bank on which the $9,000 check was written and found that Singleton had cashed it on January 28th using a Texas driver’s license.

A warrant has been issued for Singleton’s arrest for Grand Theft, signed by Judge Susan Vernon. Bond on the warrant is set at $35,000.00. Anyone who knows Singleton’s whereabouts should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a caller’s tip leads to his 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.