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 highlighted headlines to hear an audio recording of the story

February 26, 2007

Sheriff's detectives assist Miami-Dade in missing couple case

Key Largo - Monroe County Sheriff's detectives and road patrol officers are working to assist Miami-Dade County Police with locating a couple missing and last seen in the Key Largo area.

Amarylis and Jose Lopez live in Miami and own a house on Anne Bonny Drive in Rock Harbor in the upper Keys. On Friday, Detective Greg LaRochelle went to their house at the request of Miami-Dade Police in an attempt to locate them. They were reportedly scheduled to show the house, which is for sale, on Thursday. Neighbors in the vicinity say they saw Jose Lopez Wednesday evening. Family of the couple, who are caring for their 3 and 6 year old children, say the couple called Thursday morning to say they were on the way home. They never arrived.

There was reportedly no sign of them, or of any thing unusual, at the home on Anne Bonny Drive. The couple was reported to be driving a white Toyota van. According to reports by Sgt. David Carey, the van has not been located. Sgt. Carey directed deputies to travel Highway U.S. One and Card Sound Road to ascertain there was no sign of an accident which could explain the disappearance. The deputies could see no sign of such an accident. According to family members of the missing couple, they have called hospitals and the Florida Highway Patrol and ascertained the couple was not involved in a reported accident and are not in any area hospital.

The case is being investigated by Miami-Dade Police detectives. Anyone with information about this incident should call the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

February 23, 2007

Three arrested for multiple burglaries at campground

Key Largo - Three Miami teens have been charged with burglarizing seven trailers at Calusa Campground in Key Largo.

The seven burglaries took place November 25th while the three Miami teens were staying at the campground. Investigations led Detectives Don Dalton and Jason Madnick to question 17 year old Pablo Castro, Jr. of Miami about the break ins. He admitted to committing the crimes with two of his friends, 17 year old Javier Morales and 17 year old Ignacio Torres, also of Miami. He said the three of them had stayed at his father's trailer that weekend, without his father's permission. They broke into the trailers, stealing a large amount of electronic equipment, including DVD players, television sets, a Sony Playstation and an X Box, and other items as well.

Detectives obtained warrants for the arrest of the three boys for seven counts of burglary, four counts of theft and criminal mischief. Castro was arrested January 30th, Torres was arrested February 21st and Morales on the 22nd. All three were booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 20, 2007

Sexual battery arrest

Lower Keys - Sheriff’s detectives arrested 24-year old Ryan B. Moe on sexual battery charges for allegedly raping a 26-year old woman last Saturday night at his residence on Key Haven. The victim told detectives that she met Moe at a celebration of life service Saturday night and that they left together with a friend who dropped them off at Moe’s residence. The victim said that Moe sexually assaulted her, despite being told to stop numerous times. Moe told detectives that the sex was consensual. After conducting a thorough investigation of the incident, detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Moe, who was taken into custody at his residence Tuesday afternoon. Detectives booked Moe at the county jail on charges of sexual battery. Bond was set at fifty thousand dollars.

February 19, 2007

Stock Island teen charged with choking a woman, threatening her with swords

Stock Island - An 18 year old Stock Island man is in jail charged with choking a woman until she passed out, and swinging swords at her.

The 20 year old victim told Deputy Evan Calhoun she went to the 10th Avenue apartment at 7:20 p.m. Friday. She said she got into an argument with two brothers who live there. She said 18 year old Romeo Hernandez grabbed her around the neck with his arm and choking her until she passed out. She said she awoke to find him holding what she described as a "ninja type" sword. He chased her with the sword, swinging it at her. She said she ran to her vehicle and sped away, stopping near Bernstein Park.

When deputies first met with the victim, she was having trouble breathing. Paramedics arrived and transported her to the hospital for treatment. A friend in the car with her witnessed Hernandez chasing her with the sword. Hernandez arrived on the scene while the deputies were still investigating. They went to his apartment where they found three swords fitting the description of the one the victim said Hernandez threatened her with.

Hernandez was placed under arrest. He was charged with violating an injunction, aggravated assault and battery. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Marathon man charged with possessing marijuana

Key Largo - A Marathon man was arrested in the early morning hours today, charged with possessing marijuana.

Deputy Robert Dosh was on patrol near the 101 mile marker of the highway at 1:45 a.m. when he spotted a Chevrolet SUV speeding, traveling 64 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. He pulled the car over and noticed the driver, a 17 year old Marathon boy, was acting nervously. Deputy Dosh asked the driver if he had anything in the car that he should be aware of. At that point, one of the three passengers in the car admitted to having Marijuana.

20 year old Andrew Flis said he had some Marijuana in the car for personal use. He handed over a black plastic bag. Inside the bag were some smaller bags with a green leafy substance inside. Deputy Lyle Agins, who arrived on the scene to back up Deputy Dosh, told Flis he thought it was a lot of marijuana just to be for personal use. Flis then admitted he was going to sell the Marijuana when he got home to Marathon. He said he sells drugs to support his mother and brother.

Flis was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell. The 112 grams of the illegal drug were seized and will be destroyed

February 16, 2007

More GPS units stolen from boats in the Lower Keys

Lower Keys - Seven expensive GPS units have been stolen from boats in the Lower Keys. Detectives are now working county wide on a total of 16 of these cases.

Between February 13th and the morning of the 14th, employees of Murray Marine on Stock Island reported three GPS units stolen from boats at their boat yard and four more were reported stolen from Garrison Bight Marina. At the time of these thefts, detectives in the upper Keys were already investigating nine GPS thefts in that area, with six of them occurring at Mangrove Marina in Tavernier.

Now, detectives from the upper Keys, the lower Keys and from the Key West Police Department are putting their heads together to solve these crimes. Total value of the stolen items is approximately $50,000.00.

In the meantime, the Sheriff's Office and the Police Department area advising the owners of these expensive GPS units to take whatever steps are necessary to secure them. They should also make sure they have serial numbers of their units in case they are stolen. If the equipment can be removed, then do so after you are finished boating. If the GPS cannot easily be removed, and is a built in unit, try installing a lock bar across the face, or try altering the screws which hold the unit to make them more difficult to remove. Another tactic is to make sure the GPS is not readily visible to someone passing by the boat. If your boat is docked behind your house, install security lighting. Boat alarms of various sorts are also available.

The Sheriff's Office also investigates many other thefts from boats in the area, especially the theft of rods and reels and other fishing and diving equipment which people regularly leave on board their boats. All such equipment should be removed after boating and secured somewhere where they cannot be easily seen and stolen.

Anyone with information about these crimes should call the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a $500 cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

February 13, 2007

Drug arrest on Stock Island

Stock Island - A Stock Island man is in jail on drug charges after a routine traffic stop on Stock Island in the early morning hours Monday.

Deputy Henry Amole spotted the white Chevy Monte Carlo driving with its high beams on and a tag light out at 2 a.m. Monday on Cross Street, Stock Island. As it turned onto the highway northbound, he pulled it over. As he stopped behind the car, he saw the driver and the passenger switch places. He recognized the original driver as 22 year old Angelo Borges. He knew Borges had a suspended license, so he approached the car and told him he was under arrest.

Deputy John Underwood arrived as back up and performed a search of Borges. In his pockets, he found 11.5 grams of crack cocaine and 10 grams of powdered cocaine. Borges was further charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Key West woman arrested for renting cars with fraudulent credit card information

Key West - A Key West woman is in jail, charged with using a fraudulently obtained credit card to rent a car.

52 year old Debra Chalmers was working for Budget Rent -a-Car in December of 2006 when the incident took place. According to reports by Detectives Henry DelValle and Donald Catala, she used a credit card belonging to a New York man to fill out a rental agreement for a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer. She used the name of another woman on the rental agreement. The vehicle was reported stolen by the manager of the rental car company in February. Before reporting it stolen, he tried numerous times to contact the woman whose name was on the agreement. Company investigators finally contacted her and she denied any knowledge of the car.

The victim whose credit card was used also denied renting a car from Budget. He said he had previously rented a car from them, and said that is probably how Chalmers got his credit card number. The car was recovered by Miami Dade Police on February 10th. Chalmers, who was already in jail on drug charges, was charged Monday with identity theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and theft by Detectives Catala and DelValle.

February 12, 2007

Grocery store clerk robbed by armed man

Tavernier - The clerk of a Tavernier grocery store says she was robbed shortly after closing out her cash register Sunday night.

The victim works at the Winn Dixie grocery store at the 91.2 mile marker in Tavernier. She told Deputy Lance Hernandez she closed out her cash drawer and went to the store's office at about 10:30 p.m. She said as she put her key in the lock, an armed man put a gun to her head and forced her inside. He reportedly tore her gold bracelet from her wrist, handcuffed and shackled her. She said he then ransacked the office taking the cash she had and the cash from the safe before leaving the store. The suspect reportedly took a video surveillance tape with him. The victim said she was able to call another employee for help. At the time of the robbery, the store was still open for business and there were a number of other employees and a few customers in the store.

The victim was unable to describe the suspect except to say he was a black man. No one else witnessed any part of the incident. Detectives will be investigating.

Anyone with information about this crime should call the Sheriff's Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Miami man charged with illegally transporting fuel

Key Largo - Deputies arrested a Miami man who was illegally transporting a large amount of fuel in his boat Friday afternoon.

Deputy Lee Cowart stopped at 1:30 p.m. at the 101 mile marker of the highway to back up a Department of Environmental Protection Officer who had stopped a truck pulling a trailer. The truck was stopped because one of the brake lights on the trailer was not working. A search of the boat turned up nine 15 gallon containers of gas hidden in various compartments. The truck's driver, 39 year old Nelson Acosta, told the officers he was going fishing.

Acosta was placed under arrest. He was charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel, a third degree felony. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. His boat, a 1991 Mako with twin 225 hp Mercury engines, and his trailer were seized for possible forfeiture.

Thieves targeting high end GPS units

Upper Keys - Sheriff's detectives are investigating the theft of nine high end GPS units over the past two weeks.

Nine high end global positioning satellite systems have been removed from boats in the upper Keys between January 26th and February 9th. Of those nine, six were taken from the same location - Mangrove Marina in Tavernier. Those six were reported missing from boats at the marina sometime between February 5th and February 8th.. According to Detective Sgt. Gene Thompson, thieves are carefully removing the units, which are each valued at between $2,500 and $3,500.

Owners of any kind of GPS or other electronics on a boat are advised to take steps to secure them. If the equipment can be removed, then do so after you are finished boating. If the GPS cannot easily be removed, and is a built in unit, try installing a lock bar across the face, or try altering the screws which hold the unit to make them more difficult to remove. Another tactic is to make sure the GPS is not readily visible to someone passing by the boat. If your boat is docked behind your house, install security lighting. Boat alarms of various sorts are also available.

The Sheriff's Office also investigates many other thefts from boats in the area, especially the theft of rods and reels and other fishing and diving equipment which people regularly leave on board their boats. All such equipment should be removed after boating and secured somewhere where they cannot be easily seen and stolen.

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

February 9, 2007

Woman charged with stealing jewelry from elderly woman she was caring for

Key West - A Key West woman is in jail charged with stealing jewelry from the elderly woman she was caring for, then pawning one of the rings she stole.

On February 1st, Deputy David Cruz was called to a Big Pine residence because an elderly woman wanted to report three rings stolen from her jewelry box. The rings were valued at over $25,000.00. The 83 year old victim told Deputy Cruz that she was using a caregiver service and two nurses had been assigned to her. She suspected one of them might have taken the jewelry. She said the jewelry was priceless to her because one of the rings belonged to her mother, and the other two rings belonged to her deceased husband.

Detective Paul Schultz was assigned to investigate. He discovered that one of the rings had been pawned by one of the nurses caring for the victim. 41 year old Dominique Jarrett had pawned the gold and diamond ring, valued at over $8,000.00, at a Key West pawn shop for $300.00. Detective Schultz helped the victim recover the ring and had a warrant issued for the arrest of Jarrett.

On February 8th, Deputy Juan Llera went to Jarrett's Key West home. He stopped her as she was backing out of her driveway in her car. He placed her under arrest, charging her with driving with her license suspended, fraud, grand theft and dealing in stolen property. Jarrett was transported to and booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. She refused to tell Detective Schultz where the other two rings were located.

Homeless man charged with grabbing boy in parking lot

Stock Island - A homeless man is in jail charged with grabbing a boy in the parking lot of a Stock Island restaurant.

According to witnesses, and reports by Deputy Brian Luth, the 9 year old victim and several other children were playing hide and seek in the parking lot of Chico's Cantina at 8:30 p.m. Thursday while they waited for their parents to exit the restaurant. The victim was reportedly hiding beside a bike rack which had one bike chained to it. Suddenly, the owner of the bike - 37 year old Andrew Roberts - began yelling, "That's my bike!" The victim became scared and started to run toward the restaurant. Witnesses say Roberts then grabbed the 9 year old by the shirt front, picked him up and began dragging him back toward the bike rack.

Another child ran inside to tell his mother what was happening. The victim's father and several others then confronted Roberts. Deputies were called to the scene. After speaking with all those present, Deputy Luth placed Roberts under arrest charging him with child abuse. Roberts was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 8, 2007

Man in custody in Ohio for defrauding grieving families

Monroe County - A man is in custody in Ohio, charged with fraudulently posing as a funeral director and defrauding four families out of thousands of dollars to bury their loved ones.

According to Sheriff's detectives, 38 year old John Peffer lived on Stock Island and worked for the Dean Lopez funeral home as a Funeral Arranger for about a year and a half. In October, he was terminated from his employment with the funeral home. On October 20th, ten days after his termination, owner Robert Dean discovered Peffer had been taking money for funerals, but not filing paperwork and not turning the money over to the funeral home. He immediately contacted the Key West Police Department. The case was referred to the Sheriff's Office after it was discovered Peffer was working in Big Pine when he committed the crimes.

Detective Jeremy Davy began investigating and discovered that between the end of September October 20th when the crimes were discovered, Peffer, who was not a licensed funeral director, had fraudulently arranged funerals for four families. All four families paid him a total of over $22,000 for various funeral related services, including grave site services, delivery of the body by hearse, police escorts and cremation. In all four cases, Peffer kept the money they paid him, made arrangements for the burial or cremation, and never filed any paperwork with the Dean Lopez funeral home.

In the course of the scam, Peffer represented himself as the owner of a mortuary called Paradise Mortuary. He claimed once to be in partnership with Dean Lopez and, on another occasion to be purchasing the Dean Lopez business. He asked the victims to make their checks out to Paradise Mortuary. He set up a web site at where he claimed to have a close working relationship with the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office. In fact he reportedly approached the Medical Examiner's Office after his termination from Dean Lopez asking that Paradise Mortuary be included in the "rotation list" for picking up bodies.

The whole thing came to light October 20th when Robert Dean got a call from Hospice requesting a death certificate for a person who had died. When Dean found no record of the death, and no payment for funeral services he began to investigate further. He spoke with the son of the deceased, who said he dealt with Peffer and that Peffer had given him a receipt for services. When Dean saw the receipt, he called Key West Police immediately. Subsequently, a crematorium in Miami contacted one of the victims to report they had issues with the license number given to them by Peffer. He had the body of a man transported to the crematorium and signed the order for cremation using a Funeral Director's license number that, when checked, came back as not legitimate. After being notified of this, the victim cancelled her check to Peffer immediately.

While in the Keys, Peffer had been living in a residence owned by Robert Dean on Spoonbill Lane, Stock Island. Neighbors say he moved out on or around October 16th. Investigations revealed he'd been receiving phone bills registered to "Paradise Mortuary" at that address. Detectives also found that after his termination from Dean Lopez on October 10th, he forwarded the phones from the Dean Lopez office on Big Pine Key to his cell phone and kept taking calls from bereaved families who wanted their deceased buried. He was able to do this because, according to reports, the Big Pine Key office is not always open and no one knew he'd forwarded the phones.

Peffer fled the area, driving a white Suburban he'd purchased from Robert Dean. Unbeknownst to Dean, he'd used the Suburban on at least two occasions to transport bodies whose funerals he'd arranged, telling the victims that the Dean Lopez hearse was unavailable, or was not working. When Dean tried to cash the check from Peffer for the Suburban he found out a stop check had been issued, so a grand theft auto case was also filed against Peffer.

Investigations led detectives to a Daytona Beach address where Peffer had been staying, but he was no longer there. On Monday, Detective Donnie Catala received a call from Peffer's ex wife who lives in Ohio. She said Peffer was in Ohio, so detectives notified authorities in two different counties that he might be in the area, giving them a description of the Suburban. On Tuesday, a call to Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys gave an address where Peffer could be found. Detectives with the Cuyahoga Sheriff's Office in Ohio went to the address and picked Peffer up. He is being held on the Monroe County warrant and will be returned to face charges of four counts of Practicing Funeral Directing without a License, four counts of Using the Title of a Funeral Director without a license, four counts of Grand Theft, two counts of Obtaining Property by Fraud.

Woman arrested for knife threats

Stock Island - The clerk of a convenience store called the Sheriff's Office to report being threatened with a knife Wednesday morning.

The clerk told Deputy Kim Trullender she was working when 29 year old Michelle Gomez of Homestead walked in to the Stock Island Chevron and asked to use the restroom. When she exited the restroom, she put several items on the counter and tried to pay for them with change that was wet. The clerk said she refused to take the wet coins. She said Gomez became upset and knocked over several items in the store. Gomez then went out to her car, a Dodge Charger, and got a large kitchen knife. She began threatening the clerk with it. Two witnesses were there and saw her make the threats with the knife.

One of the witnesses yelled at Gomez and she left in her car. After deputies arrived, they put out a notice to be on the lookout for Gomez over police radios. A short time later, dispatchers informed Deputy Trullender that a woman fitting Gomez' description was sitting in the lobby of the Stock Island jail. The deputy responded there and found Gomez' car in the jail's parking lot. She was sitting in the lobby. She was returned to the Chevron Station, where she was positively identified by the victim and witnesses. She was charged with trespassing and aggravated assault and she was returned to the Monroe County Detention Center for booking.

February 6, 2007

Man charged with throwing large rocks at his mother

Big Pine Key - A 20 year old Big Pine man is in jail, charged with threatening his mother's life and throwing large rocks at her and at her house.

The incident took place at his mother's home on County Road, Big Pine Key, the morning of January 31st. The victim was sleeping at 7:30 a.m. when she heard a loud banging on the side of the trailer. It was her son, Bradley House, demanding to be let in. When she refused to let him in, he shouted obscenities at her, and threatened to kill her.

She heard objects hitting the outside of her trailer, and suddenly a large rock broke her bedroom window. She went into the kitchen to arm herself with a barbecue fork and, as she was standing by the kitchen window, a rock the size of a volleyball flew through the window hitting her in the head then landing on the floor.

She called the Sheriff's Office for help and House fled the scene. Deputy John Gabay was the first responding deputy. He asked the victim if she needed medical help, but she said she did not. Detective Paul Schultz was assigned to investigate. He obtained a warrant for House's arrest. On Monday, House was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and throwing a deadly missile into a dwelling. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 5, 2007

Drug sting nets seven

Stock Island - A drug sting operation netted seven arrests Friday night on Stock Island.

Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigations Division organized the drug sting in which undercover operatives sold crack cocaine and the buyers were subsequently arrested. They were assisted by road patrol deputies, Key West Police and the Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics team. They set up the operation near the intersection of Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue at 8 p.m. Over the next three hours, five people were arrested for purchasing crack cocaine from the undercover operative. One person was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and one with trespassing.

50 year old Danilo Castro of Stock Island was the first arrest at 8:07 p.m. when he purchased $40 of crack. He was followed by 36 year old Zachary Polk of Key West who bought $50 of crack at 8:27 p.m. Just minutes later, at 8:39 p.m., 54 year old John Brock of Stock Island bought $50 of the illegal drug. At 10:08 p.m., 23 year old Kyle Arnold of Big Pine Key bought $40 of crack and was arrested.

Then, at 10:30 p.m., a 1998 Ford Ranger pickup truck pulled up to the area of the drug operation. 53 year old Debra Chalmers of Key West got out of the passenger side of the truck and purchased $100 worth of crack. She charged for that crime and a check of her name turned up a warrant for possession of ecstasy, manufacturing cocaine, trafficking in cocaine and possession of marijuana. Bond on the warrant was $141,000.00. The driver of the truck was arrested after he was found to be intoxicated. 49 year old Joseph Johnson refused to tell deputies who he was, but they easily identified him by the Florida identification card in his pocket. His license had been suspended nine times, once before for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was charged with DUI, resisting arrest and driving with his license suspended.

The last arrest of the night was 41 year old Michelle Llama of Key West. She was found hanging out nearby and warning people about the drug sting operation. She was charged with trespassing and was taken to jail.

Traffic stop leads to drug arrests

Islamorada - A traffic stop at the 82.7 mile marker of the highway led to the arrest of two men, one for outstanding warrants and one for possessing illegal narcotics.

Deputies David Minor and Patrick Crozier pulled the maroon colored Mitsubishi over at 1:30 a.m. today (Monday) because it's tags came back to a black truck. A check of the driver, 19 year old David Gilliland turned up outstanding warrants for failure to appear in court ref. burglary and grand theft charges, and issuing a worthless check. He also had a suspended driver's license. He was placed under arrest on all those charges, and for attaching a tag not assigned to his vehicle. Further investigation led to the arrest of back seat passenger 22 year old Jean-Marc Benjamin after marijuana was found on the floorboards and 2.36 grams of cocaine was found in four plastic bags on the seat next to him, along with scales to weigh the drug.

Benjamin was charged with resisting arrest when he fought officers as he was being handcuffed. He was further charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Both men were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Marathon woman charged with cocaine possession

Marathon - A Marathon woman was arrested Saturday afternoon after a deputy caught her smoking crack cocaine.

Deputy Kevin Lantigua responded to a residence on 15th Street and U.S. One at 4:30 p.m. to a routine call when he noticed a woman sitting on the front steps smoking a glass pipe. When he asked her what she was doing, she said "smoking crack."

38 year old Evelyn Gaston was placed under arrest, charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia and she was taken to jail.

February 2, 2007

Stabbing leaves one man in the hospital, one in jail

Boca Chica - One man is in the hospital with severe knife wounds and one is in jail for stabbing him following a violent incident at the Boca Chica Bridge in the early morning hours today.

At 1:40 a.m., Deputies Marc Maison and John Underwood had stopped a gray colored Kia with a head light out at the 10 mile marker when they received a report from dispatchers that a man had been stabbed at the 7 mile marker of the highway. Deputy Maison responded immediately while Deputy Underwood finished the traffic stop, then he responded as well.

They found a man and a woman at the north end of the bridge, in the median of the highway. The man had numerous stab wounds. The woman, covered in blood, had flagged down a passing motorist to call 911 for help. The man had stab wounds on his neck, his chest and a large cut on the back of his head. Detective Henry Hamilton was called out to investigate. The victim told Detective Hamilton he, the woman and several others had been drinking underneath the bridge when one of them "freaked out" and stabbed him. He described the others, who he said fled the scene after the stabbing.

Deputies Maison and Underwood recognized the people he was describing as the people in the gray colored Kia they had stopped just prior to receiving reports of the stabbing. They put out a notice to be on the lookout for the car over police radios. A short time later, the gray Kia was stopped in Marathon. There were three people inside. Statements from the witnesses led to the arrest of 28 year old Lucas Cater. Cater had blood on his shirt and signs he'd been in an altercation. He was later identified in a photo line up by the victim.

Cater was charged with aggravated battery and was booked into jail. Cater told Detective Hamilton he'd just been in prison for "the same thing", although he would not specifically admit to stabbing the victim. The victim is in Lower Keys Hospital where he is expected to recover.

Cocaine and money seized during service of search warrant in Marathon.
Click the photo for a larger version

Search warrant leads to arrests

Marathon - A search warrant served at a Marathon residence led to the arrest of two men on drug charges.

Just before 8 p.m. Thursday, the Sheriff's Office Special Weapons and Tactics team entered the residence at 9102 Aviation Boulevard in Marathon. Once they secured the residence, they were followed by detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Unit who performed a thorough search. They found three plastic bags with 64.2 grams of crack cocaine inside. The bags were found next to 31 year old Corey Mills, who was lying on the floor when the SWAT team entered. They also found marijuana next to 32 year old Rudy Mentor. Further investigation turned up over $1,300.00 in cash, drug paraphernalia and drug residue in various locations.

The crack cocaine seized during the search has a street value of approximately $6,000.00. Both suspects were arrested. According to detectives, Mills and Mentor are both from Homestead. Their method of operation is reportedly to sell drugs from drug user's homes, compensating the users for the use of their homes by giving them free drugs. Mills was charged with trafficking in cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia; Mentor was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. More arrests in this case are pending.

Detectives were assisted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other law enforcement agencies.


February 1, 2007

Key West man caught speeding, arrested for drugs as well

Boca Chica - A Key West man traveling at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour was arrested after he was found with marijuana and cocaine Wednesday morning.

Deputy Nick Pham was working on the Boca Chica four lane at the six mile marker at 10 a.m. when a silver colored Infinity sped by him. The deputy clocked the vehicle, driven by 22 year old John Davila, at 112 miles per hour. He pulled behind the car, activating his lights and siren. The deputy pulled the car over at the 7.5 mile marker of the highway.

The driver was acting strangely, moving around in the car so the deputy asked him to exit the vehicle. When Davila got out, Deputy Pham noticed a bulge in one of his pants pockets. Davila initially refused to comply with Pham's orders to put his hands on the trunk of the car. After he was threatened with a Taser, however, he complied. A search of his pockets turned up 43 bars of Xanax, three grams of marijuana and three grams of cocaine. Three more plastic bags with four grams of crack cocaine inside were found on the floorboards of the car. Davila claimed he took the Xanax from his father.

Davila was arrested and charged with reckless driving, possession of cocaine, possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Stock Island man charged with auto burglary, not paying cab fare

Big Coppitt Key - A Stock Island man was arrested Wednesday afternoon after he failed to pay cab fare and broke into a vehicle, stealing a woman's purse.

22 year old Joel Hernandez traveled by taxi from Key West to Boca Chica beach and then was not able to pay cab fare so Deputies Tom Walker and Richard Bellon were dispatched to the area to assist. At about the same time, dispatchers received a call about an auto burglary at the same location. When the deputies arrived, the cab driver told them Hernandez had walked away, past the barricades at the end of the beach. They walked in that direction and spotted him. As they approached, he saw them and began walking away.

As they took him into custody, he resisted their attempts to handcuff him and, once handcuffed, he refused to walk with the deputies or tell them his name. Further investigations revealed Hernandez was in possession of a number of items stolen from the burglarized vehicle. The victim was still at the location and identified a glasses, keys and other items belonging to her.

Hernandez was charged with resisting arrest, two counts of theft and burglary. He was also found to have outstanding warrants, and was charged with two counts of violation of probation and one count of failure to appear in court. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Paint ball bandit booked

Plantation Key - The man suspected of shooting a number of people with orange colored paint balls over the past two months was booked into jail Wednesday.

21 year old Juan Melendez of Homestead was charged with six counts of battery. His total bond is set at $10,000.00.

Sgt. David Carey, who investigated the cases, says the suspect drives to Islamorada to work. He says on the way to work, the man would shoot his paint ball gun out the window of his van, aiming at area businesses and at people standing alongside the highway.

The first reported case was November 3rd at 8:30 a.m. A man doing landscaping work at the 98 mile marker of Highway U.S. One said he heard several shots and was hit in the back with a paint ball, knocking him to the ground. He described the suspects vehicle as an older model white van. About ten minutes later, a Key Largo business owner called to say his business and several others had been hit by paint balls.

On November 8th, a woman riding her bike was hit by what she initially thought was a rock. When she stopped to take a look, she found out she'd been hit by a paint ball. She also described the suspect's vehicle as an older model white van.

On November 10th, at 5 p.m. two construction workers at the Jewfish Creek Bridge reported being hit with paint balls, one in the hip and one in the shoulder. Four vehicles at the site were also hit. The victims said they saw the shots come from an older model white van.

On January 17th, at 3 p.m. construction workers at the Jewfish Creek bridge were shot at again. Two men - one was a victim of the previous paint ball incident - reported being hit. This time a witness following the van was able to get a tag number, which he called in to Sheriff's dispatchers. Later that day, Sgt. Carey stopped the van at the 110 mile marker. The driver admitted to shooting his paint ball gun at signs, people and businesses. His blue Orion paint ball gun, CO2 canisters and a large bag of paint balls were confiscated.

Search warrant leads to drug arrest

Key West - Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Unit arrested a Key West man after serving a search warrant at his trailer early today.

The search warrant was served at 4:20 a.m. at a trailer on 14th Street. 18 year old Howard Schneider was present and was placed under arrest after the search turned up crack cocaine, Xanax, marijuana and several other unidentified pills.

Key West Police and other law enforcement agencies assisted in the service of the search warrant. Snyder was charged with possessing cocaine, marijuana and a controlled substance and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

Dolphin finds strange object

Islamorada - Theater of the Sea was briefly evacuated after a porpoise at the attraction found a strange object in it's tank.

The porpoise brought a small, round glass object to the surface Wednesday. According to Detective Sgt. Gene Thompson, the object had a dark substance inside resembling mud, was sealed with a waxy type substance at the top and had some kind of cloth wrapping it. The Sheriff's dispatched a bomb squad member to the scene who took the item into custody for further investigation. It is unknown at this time what the item is.

Fugitive apprehended after Crime Stopper tip

An anonymous Crime Stopper tip led Sheriff's detectives to the apprehension of a fugitive at a residence on Grassy Key Monday afternoon.

29-year old Crystal Dinklocker was taken into custody after detective confirmed that she was wanted in Ohio on a felony violation of probation warrant.

Dinklocker is currently in the county jail awaiting extradition by Ohio authorities.

The tipster in this case is eligible for a Crime Stoppers' reward and should call the Crime Stoppers' hotline at 1-800-346-TIPS for details about how to arrange for picking up the money.

Questions or Comments?
Contact Deputy Becky Herrin, Public Information Officer and Web Author or Sheriff Rick Ramsayvia e-mail
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