Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Click on the headline to hear an audio recording of the story

March 26, 2004

Teens arrested for stealing truck in Georgia, breaking into Islamorada condo

Lower Matecumbe Key - Two Georgia teens were arrested Thursday for stealing a truck in Georgia, driving it to the Keys and breaking into a condominium belonging to the stepfather of one of them.

Deputies received information from Georgia authorities that the boys had stolen the 1999 GMC Truck and might be on their way to the Keys. The truck belongs to the stepfather of 17 year old Sheldon Foster. The stepfather also owns a condominium on Lower Matecumbe Key and he told authorities he believed his stepson would be headed to that location. He also said his stepson and his friend, 19 year old Joseph Morris, might be armed, He said a number of his guns were missing, and the boys might have taken them.

When deputies arrived at the condo on El Capitan Drive at 1:45 p.m., they found a door open and evidence that someone had been inside. Just as they were leaving the residence, the boys drove into a nearby parking lot. They were spotted by Deputy William Guerra. The boys were taken into custody without incident. No guns were found in the truck or in the condo.

Upon questioning, the boys admitted to breaking in to the condo. They said they took a set of golf clubs and a television set to a local pawn shop for cash. Both Foster and Morris were charged with burglary, grand theft, criminal mischief and dealing in stolen property and they were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 24, 2004

Miami man arrested for stealing sea life, selling to pet shops

Marathon - A Miami man is in custody today, accused of stealing sharks, live rock and other sea life from a business in Marathon, then selling the items to pet shops in Miami.

The theft occurred March 4th. The suspect, 19 year old Jesus Larralde told Detective Lionel Vargas he is an acquaintance of a former employee of the victim, and knows what types of sea life is kept at the victim's business, located on 20th Street in Marathon. He said he entered the business the morning of March 4th and removed sharks, live rock, sea anemones, starfish, snails and an angelfish. He put them in bins with sea water, and took them to Miami where he sold them to several different pet shops.

During the course of the investigation, Detective Vargas received information that some of the sea life had been spotted in Miami pet shops. He enlisted assistance from Lt. Pat Reynolds with the Fish and Wildlife Commission in Miami and they were able to recover some of the stolen creatures. According to Larralde, he heard that investigators found some of the creatures and he decided to return the rest to the owner and turn himself in. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant Tuesday for burglary and theft. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Escaped Inmate returns

Stock Island - An inmate who failed to return from a furlough turned himself in at the Stock Island Detention Center Tuesday evening.

Judge Richard Payne granted the furlough to 19 year old Eugene Govan for March 19th through the 22nd. When Govan failed to return on the scheduled return date, a notice to be on the lookout for him was issued to all law enforcement agencies in the vicinity. Govan, who is in jail on drug and traffic related charges, was arrested December 21, 2003 by Key West Police.

Govan was booked on a charge of escape and is now back in custody at the Detention Center.

March 23, 2004

Three business burglaries on Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key – Deputies and detectives from the Sheriff’s Office are investigating three business burglaries committed overnight on Big Pine Key.

One of the break-ins triggered an alarm at 3:47 a.m. at Dion’s Quik Mart. When deputies arrived, they found the front door smashed in and the cash register missing. A surveillance video from the store showed a van driving into the front of the store. The van is an older model, white or light colored with windows on the sides. A man wearing a long sleeved shirt and long pants entered the store and removed the cash register. There is no further description of the suspect because his clothing covered him completely.

This morning, when employees arrived at Aroma’s Coffee and Paradise Insurance, they also found the fronts of the businesses smashed in. A suspect had entered the insurance office, but did not take anything. It appears the suspect who smashed the front of the coffee shop was interrupted by something before he could enter. Due to the close proximity of the businesses and the time frame during which the crimes were committed, it is likely that all three crimes were committed by the same person.

Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward if the information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Inmate fails to return after funeral furlough

Eugene Govan

Key West - An inmate is now considered to be an escapee from the Stock Island Detention Center after he failed to return to the facility after being granted a three day furlough for a funeral.

Judge Richard Payne granted the furlough to 19 year old Eugene Govan for March 19th through the 22nd. When Govan failed to return on the scheduled date, a notice to be on the lookout for him was issued to all law enforcement agencies in the vicinity. Govan, who is in jail on drug and traffic related charges, was arrested December 21, 2003 by Key West Police. He is a black male, six feet tall weighing 210 pounds. He is a resident of Key West.

Anyone with information about his location should contact the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

March 22, 2004

Key Largo man charged with gun threats

Key Largo - A Key Largo landlord was arrested Saturday night after he threatened to kill his tenant's houseguest with a gun.

The victims told Deputy Edward Askins they were both inside a trailer on Cormorant Drive at 11:15 p.m. when 41 year old David Conner burst inside screaming that he wanted them out of the trailer. The female tenant escorted him back outside the trailer. On the front porch, she said he took out a gun, showed it to her and told her he wanted her and her guest out of the trailer immediately. He left and she went back inside.

A short time later, he returned and pounded on the door. He then walked inside, pulled out his gun, pointed it at the male guest's head and said he wanted them both out of the trailer or he would shoot him. After Conner left, the victims called the Sheriff's Office.

When Deputy Askins arrived along with Deputy Brian Cross, they found Conner still in the vicinity. After further investigation of the incident, they placed him under arrest. Conner was charged with armed burglary of an occupied dwelling, a first degree felony crime. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 19, 2004

Marathon man charged with robbery, battery with a knife

Marathon - A Marathon man has been arrested for robbing a 15 year old of money he was going to spend on a video game player.

The 15 year old boy flagged down Deputy Greg Korzen on March 8th and told him he'd been robbed of $420.00. He said he was on his way to K-Mart to buy an X-Box when the robbery took place. He told the deputy that he knew the man who robbed him. He identified the suspect as 22 year old Ramon Ruiz, nicknamed "Kiki". He said Ruiz pulled a knife and threatened him with it during the course of the robbery. He said when he denied having money, Ruiz swung the knife at him. The victim blocked the knife with his hand, sustaining a cut which required six stitches to close.

After being cut with the knife, the victim handed over his cash. Later when he saw the deputy he decided to report the crime.

A warrant was issued for Ruiz' arrest and on Thursday at 11 p.m., deputies responded to his home on 37th Street. He was placed under arrest on charges of Aggravated Battery and Robbery. A check on his name through computers revealed two additional outstanding warrants, both for violation of probation. He was also charged with those warrants. A check of his pockets subsequent to his arrest turned up a small amount of marijuana in one of them. He was further charged with possession of marijuana and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

March 18, 2004

Stock Island man charged with gun threats

Stock Island – A Stock Island man has been arrested for threatening two men with a gun.

The incident took place March 14 th at 6 p.m. at the home of one of the victims on 10 th Avenue , Stock Island . The victims told Deputy Paul Schultz that 50 year old Manuel Carmona pulled up to the residence in his pickup truck. He got out waving a gun, threatening to kill 25 year old David Estevez. A friend of the victim, 33 year old Brian Barroso, walked up at that point and saw Carmona waving the gun around. He tackled him from behind and they struggled over the weapon, which fell to the ground. While Barroso was struggling with Carmona, Estevez ran inside to call for help.

Carmona managed to get loose and regained possession of the gun. He pointed it at Barroso, pulling the trigger. The gun failed to fire, and Barroso ran behind a car for cover. Carmona dropped the gun in the driveway and left the area in his truck.

After leaving, he made several phone calls to Estevez threatening to kill him, and threatening to kill his mother, who reportedly dates Carmona. When Deputy Schultz arrived, he recovered the revolver which was fully loaded.

Detective Donald Catala was assigned to investigate the case. He obtained a warrant for Carmona's arrest and on Tuesday, Carmona turned himself in. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center for two counts of aggravated assault. Bond was set at $100,000.00.

March 17, 2004

Two arrested at upper Keys resort for drug possession

Islamorada – A deputy dealing with a civil dispute about a rental boat ended up arresting two Del Ray Beach men Monday night for possessing marijuana and other illegal substances.

During the course of dealing with the civil issue, Deputy Steven Pitts gave 19 year old Josh Hagedon and 22 year old Matthew Hoeffer a ride back to their hotel at 10:20 p.m. He accompanied them to their hotel room and watched as Hoeffer opened the room's door, then opened the safe. In plain view in the safe, the deputy saw five rolled up Ziplock bags with a green leafy substance inside. Also inside the plastic bags were several other controlled substances, including codeine, Xanax and Percocet. The room key and the key to the safe were both in the possession of Hoeffer, so he was placed under arrest.

Further investigation revealed that Hagedon was also in possession of marijuana in a pill bottle in his pocket, along with a marijuana pipe. He was also arrested.

At that point, hotel management asked the deputies to assist in evicting the two men from the room. As the deputies were removing the two men's bags from the room, they saw another plastic bag sticking out of one of the bag's pockets. In the bag was more marijuana. The bag belonged to Hagedon.

Both men were charged with possession of marijuana. Hoeffer was also charged with possession of the controlled substances and Hagedon was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. They were both booked into the Monroe County Detention Center .

$500 Reward for information about Burglary suspect

Crime Stoppers is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest and/or recovery of stolen property from a business burglary reported on March 1, 2004 at the Key Largo Dive and Resort, 97830 Overseas Highway. Over eleven thousand dollars worth of dive sports gear, including underwater cameras, scuba tank, dive light, spear gun, dive masks were taken along with a colt AR-15 rifle. Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-346-TIPS if you have information about this crime. Callers may remain anonymous.

March 12, 2004

Man wanted in Maryland for Child Molestation

Robert A. "Drew" Manger

The man in the above photo is believed to have been spotted in the Keys today (Friday) within the past few days. Sheriff's Office got a tip he was at a home on Upper Matacumbe Road at the 106 mm of Highway U.S. One. When they arrived at the location where he was reported to be, deputies were told he just left. Anyone who knows where he is should call the Sheriff's Office, or dial 911.

The following information was sent to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office by the Baltimore County Police Department, Family Crimes Unit,  410-853-3650 or 410-307-202

Name: MANGER, Robert (Drew) A.

Age: 35 yrs.    Sex: Male    Race: White
Hair: Brown       Eyes:  Brown       Height: 6'0  Weight: 240 lbs.

Identifying Marks: Reported to be legally blind w/eye twitch. Usually wears sunglasses.

Details: An active arrest warrant exists for suspect MANGER, Robert, in Baltimore County, MD. Case number003C00203864. The Warrant has been entered into NCIC. The Warrant pertains to Child Sexual Abuse Charges.Will extradite from Florida.

March 3, 2004

New York man drowns at Key Largo bar

Key Largo – A 23 year old New York man visiting friends in Key Largo is the victim of what appears to be an accidental drowning in the early morning hours today at a Key Largo bar.

Aaron Coonick of Endicott, New York was visiting friend in Key Largo when he died. He, the friend, and some others were at Cactus Jack’s bar at 12:30 a.m. They were playing darts and engaging in some horseplay when the incident occurred.

According to witnesses, Coonick was tossed into the water outside the bar during the course of the horseplay. His friends saw him surface, then saw him swim under water underneath a boat. They thought he was hiding, and began looking for him behind and around the boat, but they couldn’t find him. Someone called 911 for help and the friends jumped in the water to look for Coonick.

When Deputy Edward Askins arrived, he looked into the water and saw the outline of a body floating under the surface. He directed those in the water to the location of the Coonick and he was pulled out of the water and onto the dock. CPR was performed by Deputy Askins and another person on the scene until paramedics arrived. Coonick was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Detective James Norman was assigned to investigate. He says it appears that Coonick most likely died of accidental drowning. An autopsy will be scheduled to positively determine the cause of his death. He said initial examination of the body showed a small scrape above one eye and an abrasion on the back of his head.

Investigations are continuing.

Man found dead off Stock Island identified

Stock Island – A man found dead off of Stock Island has been identified by Detectives.

According to Detective John Ellsworth, the man, found dead in his dinghy Tuesday morning, is 54 year old James Harold Britt. Britt lived on board a 28 foot houseboat off shore of Stock Island, in the waters near the Boca Chica Bridge. Along with his body, groceries from Albertson’s grocery store were found in the dingy, with several empty cans of Busch Beer and a newly filled prescription for Oxycontin. The prescription was for 30 pills and there were only 17 left. An autopsy is scheduled for today to determine the cause of his death, but there are reportedly no obvious signs of foul play.

Detective Ellsworth is hoping the public can help him find Britt’s family, so they can be notified about his death. Anyone with information about Britt’s family should contact the Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division at 289-2410.


March 2, 2004

Man found dead in dinghy off shore of Stock Island

Stock Island – A 54 year old lower Keys man was found dead today, floating in his dinghy in the waters off of Stock Island.

A person traveling to shore in a boat spotted the dinghy at about 6:30 a.m., a couple of hundred yards off of the Boca Chica Bridge. The man’s body was in the boat, with his head hanging over the edge in the water. She called reported it to a friend, who called the Sheriff’s Office. The dinghy and the body were recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard and brought to shore at the Key Haven Boat Ramp. Sheriff’s deputies and detectives then took over the investigation.

Detective John Ellsworth was assigned to the case. According to the detective, there were no obvious signs of foul play when he did an initial examination of the body. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow to determine the cause of his death.

In the dinghy, the detective found several empty cans of Busch beer and a prescription the man had just filled Monday for Oxycontin. There were 17 pills left out of a total of 30 prescribed. There were also several bags of groceries. It appears he went shopping at Albertson’s at about 6 p.m. Monday night. He was apparently on his way back to the 28 foot houseboat he lived on when he died.

His name is being withheld pending notification of his next of kin. The investigation is continuing.

March 1, 2004

Key Largo teen charged a second time with school burglary

Key Largo – A teenager caught in the act of burglarizing Key Largo School Friday was arrested again Sunday morning inside a portable classroom at the same school. He’d broken a window to get in and was accessing the internet when he was apprehended.

16 year old Nicholas Walwer was again charged with burglary by Deputy Sean Heffron after he was caught in one of the classrooms at 1:30 a.m. The deputy was on routine patrol of Key Largo school when he looked into the classroom and saw Walwer inside, sitting at a computer. Walwer later admitted to breaking in by smashing a window with a brick. He said he committed the crime so he could access pornographic web sites on the internet.

Walwer was previously arrested on Friday in the early morning hours after deputies caught him in one of the portable classrooms. On that occasion, he also said he was accessing pornographic web sites. He was charged with a total of four burglaries at the school, all of which took place in a week’s time. During those four break ins, Walwer stole numerous items of computer equipment as well as using the school’s internet access.

Walwer was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center and was turned over to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Dead skinned cat found hanging from tree

Little Torch Key – The body of a cat was found by a member of the Fish and Wildlife Commission Saturday. It was hanging from a tree, and had reportedly been skinned.

FWC Biologist Randy Grau found the cat just before 11 a.m. and called the Sheriff’s Office to report it. The cat’s body was found in a wooded area just off of Winsom Avenue on Little Torch Key. The property belongs to the State of Florida. There was no evidence found to indicate who might have committed the crime.

The case is currently under investigation.

Teen arrested for possessing crack cocaine

Marathon – A deputy on patrol in Marathon Saturday arrested a teen for possessing crack cocaine.

Deputy Chuck Kellenberger was on patrol in the parking lot of the East Wind Apartments on Sombrero Boulevard at 2:40 p.m. He was shining his spotlight on parked vehicles when he saw movement in one. He saw an arm come out the window of a gray two door Buick and throw something into a field in front of the vehicle.

The deputy stopped to investigate. He found two people in the car: a young girl and 18 year old Adrian Calvo of Marathon. A search of the area in front of the car turned up a plastic container with 6.5 grams of crack cocaine inside. A search of the car turned up a crack rock on the seat where Calvo was sitting.

Calvo was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. The young girl was turned over to the custody of family members.

Homeless Marathon man charged with burglarizing restaurant

Marathon – A Homeless man was arrested early Friday after he was caught stealing meat from a Marathon restaurant.

Employees of the International House of Pancakes told deputies they arrived for work at 4:45 a.m. and spotted 53 year old John McGinty leaving the restaurant carrying a white box under his arm. When one of the employees yelled, “stop, I’m calling the police”, the man ran from the area. Investigation revealed a brick had been used to smash one of the windows.

McGinty was caught a block and a half away by Sgt. Gene Thompson and Deputy Joel Slough. The witnesses identified him as the man they saw leaving the restaurant. Four packages of fajita meat were stolen, and several packages of chicken were found moved from the freezer to the kitchen counter.

McGinty was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

12 cars burglarized at 96 mile marker

Key Largo – 12 unlocked cars were burglarized over the weekend at the Buttonwood Bay Condominium Complex.

Deputies responded to the condo complex Saturday morning to reports that a large number of vehicles in the parking lot had been entered. Between Saturday morning and Monday morning, 12 burglarized automobiles had been discovered. All 12 were left unlocked. Suspects took a large number of items, including a laptop computer, a GPS, a radar detector, credit cards, DVDs, CDs and video games, two Sunpasses, a cell phone and a bottle of Vodka.

Detectives are investigating.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office strongly recommends that everyone in the Florida Keys lock their car doors when the car is not occupied. This instance is a perfect example of why: chances are the suspects in this case tried the doors on many cars in the lot, only stealing from those which were easy targets – the ones with unlocked doors. Also, remember to remove all valuables from inside your car. Leaving expensive items in plain view in the car just serves to provide temptation to would-be thieves walking by.