Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Click here to read press releases on other Sheriff's Office events and occurrences


March 31, 2010

Ramrod man charged with burglary

Stock Island - A Ramrod Key man, hired to detail a boat and a truck for a Key Haven resident, was arrested for burglarizing his employer’s home.

Deputy David Fernandez responded to the home on Cypress Avenue Tuesday afternoon to find the suspect, 26 year old Kyle Arnold, being detained by the victim. The victim said he’d noticed several items missing from his home while Arnold was working for him. When he confronted Arnold about it, Arnold admitted to entering the home and taking the items, which included several rings and some medication, from the house.

He was arrested, charged with burglary and theft. A syringe was found in his pocket which he said was used for illegal substances. He was further charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

March 23, 2010

Detectives investigate burglaries

Islamorada - Sheriff's detectives are investigating a series of burglaries that have taken place at various Islamorada resort properties over the past nine months.

The unusual aspect of these burglaries are that they've all been committed while the rooms have been occupied. Fourteen rooms at six different resorts have been entered while the occupants slept. Most of the entries were made through unlocked doors, many of them rear sliding glass doors. Suspects stole wallets, purses, briefcases, cameras, cell phones, cash and credit cards. In one case, the victims woke when they heard change hit the floor. They saw a suspect wearing a dark colored "hoodie" sweatshirt flee out the door taking their belongings with him. In another case, a victim woke up when the phone rang. She saw a man in her room who fled at the sound of the phone.

Six of the burglaries took place between July and December of 2009, with eight taking place in the past two months. Detectives say whoever is committing these crimes is stepping up the pace recently, with burglaries taking place on February 27th at Caribbean Resorts, March 8th at the Kon Tiki resort, on March 12th at Maison Matecumbe, on the 13th at the Pines and Palms resort and on the 22nd at the Moorings.

According to investigators, most of the burglaries could have been prevented if victims had locked doors and windows before going to sleep at night. They would like to remind everyone living in the Keys and visiting the Keys to lock doors and windows when leaving their home, or their hotel rooms and when going to sleep for the night. Simple preventative measures such as these can prevent most crimes from taking place.

The burglaries are under investigation. Captain Don Fanelli, who heads up the Sheriff's Office Islamorada District, says he is not at liberty to say specifically what measures are being taken to solve these crimes.

"But I can tell you," Captain Fanelli said, "that we are doing everything we can to track down the perpetrators. We take all crime very seriously, but burglary of an occupied home or hotel room is serious business and we are working hard to make sure we stop whoever is committing these crimes."

Anyone with information about these crimes should call the Sheriff's Office. 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 substantial cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at

Brother, sister arrested for burglary

Lower Matecumbe - A brother and sister from Miami were arrested after they were found sleeping in an unoccupied house in Lower Matecumbe Key Monday night.

Deputies responded to reports of suspicious activity at a house on Columbus Drive at 9:45 p.m. They found 41 year old Donna and 44 year old Kenneth DeMatteis lying in bed, watching television in an apartment on the property. They said they had permission from the owner of the property to be there.

Deputies contacted the owner who said she is familiar with the two, who own a mobile car wash and who she has hired to wash her cars in the past. She said she never gave them permission to stay there, however.

Both suspects were arrested and charged with burglary and theft. They were booked into jail.

March 19, 2010

Drug arrests in Islamorada

Islamorada - Sheriff’s Special Investigations Detectives arrested four people on drug charges Thursday. The four are accused of selling cocaine, marijuana ecstasy and prescription medication.

Detectives made undercover purchases of the illegal substances over a period of time. Warrants were then served Thursday and the following people were arrested:

March 14, 2010

Fire destroys local restaurant

Key Largo - A fire destroyed Snook’s Bayside Restaurant in the early morning hours today.

Firefighters and deputies are still on the scene this morning at the 99.4 mile marker of Highway U.S. One. The fire was reported at 4:30 a.m. Southbound traffic was halted as firefighters ran fire hoses across the highway. Traffic was impacted until about 7:15 a.m.  as firefighting efforts continued.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. The State Fire Marshall’s Office is en route to the scene and will be investigating.

March 13, 2010 – 3 a.m.

Trailer burns on Big Pine Key

A vacant trailer on Big Pine Key was destroyed by fire today.

Callers reported the fire to Sheriff’s dispatchers at 3:45 p.m. Firefighters had the fire under control within 15 minutes of the reports. It is unknown what may have caused the blaze.

Dive death, Key Largo

A Tallahassee woman died while diving offshore of Key Largo Friday.

51 year old Carol Strickland was on board the commercial dive vessel Mr. Tropical Adventure from Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Key Largo. The boat was moored at French Reef and she and her friend surfaced from a dive at about 2:40 p.m. and signaled to the boat they were okay. They both began to swim back to the boat, but Strickland began having trouble.

A mate from the boat swam out to meet her. She was reportedly unresponsive. She was pulled onto the boat, which began returning to shore. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed until the boat met paramedics at shore. Paramedics continued treatment en route to Mariner’s Hospital where Strickland was pronounced dead.

Detectives  are investigating.


Hit and run kills pedestrian

An accident at 2:15 a.m. today at the 101.4mm of Highway U.S. One in Key Largo killed a pedestrian who was crossing the highway with two friends.

According to witnesses, a gold colored Pontiac Sunfire reportedly hit the man and then fled the scene, northbound. The Florida Highway Patrol is the investigating agency on this case.

Northbound traffic is impacted, however officers are diverting traffic around the accident so cars are getting through the area.

Anyone with information about the case can contact 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 or on line tips can be submitted at

March 12, 2010

Highway Interdiction operation, in the Lower Keys and Key West.

A Joint Highway Interdiction operation in the Lower Keys Thursday night resulted in one drug arrest, and two notice to appear in court for drugs.

Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigations Division conducted a joint operation with the City of Key West Narcotics Unit. They stopped 48 vehicles during the operation, which was conducted between mm 10 and North Roosevelt Blvd in Key West  They issued five citations, one criminal citation, and thirty two warnings. They conducted 24 K-9 vehicle searches and arrested one person found to be in possession of drugs.

Assisting in the operation were the City Of Key West Narcotics Unit and their K-9 team, U.S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigations, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the City of Marathon K-9 team.

Detectives look for missing woman and her two friends

Sheriff's detectives are investigating the disappearance of a Key West woman in February. They want to talk to the two men who reported her missing to the Coast Guard.

Detectives say 37 year old Michelle Henson was last seen February 24th and was reported missing the next day. Two male acquaintances - 44 year old Brendan Coughlin and 44 year old Darrell Henshaw - called the U.S. Coast Guard that day. Since their call to the Coast Guard, no one in law enforcement has been able to find them to talk to them. Detective Mark Coleman would like to talk to them and is asking them to call, or for anyone who knows where they are or might be to call his office at 305-289-2410.

Henson lived on board a houseboat offshore of Key West, in Cow Key Channel.

March 11, 2010

Teen charged with drugs after reckless driving

A Cape Coral teen was arrested for possessing marijuana and cocaine after being stopped for reckless driving.

Deputy Christian Galls was on patrol at 10:30 p.m. in Marathon when he spotted a green Honda Acura weaving from one lane to another near the Marathon Community Park. Deputy Galls recognized the car from a previous notice to be on the lookout for a reckless driver.

When he pulled the car over, and began speaking with the 17 year old driver, Eric
Zornes, the deputy could smell a strong odor of marijuana. He asked Zornes if he’d been drinking or doing drugs. Zornes admitted smoking marijuana and having some in the car and in the car’s trunk. He was arrested.

When a search turned up a digital scale, Deputy Galls asked Zornes why he had it. Zornes said he had it to weigh his drugs. A plastic bag with cocaine was found in Zornes’ wallet.

Zornes was charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia and he was booked into jail.

March 9, 2010

Two spring breakers face drug charges

Stock Island - A traffic stop for speeding led to the arrest of two spring breakers on drug charges.

Deputy Evan Calhoun was on patrol, stopped at Key Haven road when a silver vehicle sped past him on the highway southbound. Estimating the speed at 85 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone, he pulled out behind it as it turned onto 3rd Street. He turned on his overhead lights to stop the vehicle on MacDonald Avenue.

Deputy Calhoun noticed the front passenger acting furtively as he looked in the glove box for insurance paperwork. Being concerned about the possible presence of a weapon, the deputy told all three people in the car to raise their hands, and he looked for weapons in the vehicle. Instead, he found plastic bags with a white powder inside on the front floorboards of the car. Total amount of the cocaine was three grams.

The driver and front passenger were identified as 21 year old Andrew Crites and 21 year old Brett Shambach, both of St. Augustine. They both admitted to purchasing the cocaine on the mainland and bringing it down for Spring Break. Some pills with white power inside were found in the car as well. They said it was a dietary supplement pill they were using as a "cutting agent" for the cocaine. A digital scale was also found in the car, along with plastic bags used for packaging the drugs. Both of Crites and Shambach said the third person in the back seat was not involved with the drug activity, so he was released with no charges.

Crites and Shambach were both arrested. They were charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Crites, who was driving, had a driver's license with a "business only" restriction, so he was also charged with that violation. Both were booked into jail.

March 6, 2010

Man charged with auto theft, burglary

Marathon - A Key West man was arrested in Marathon at 4 a.m. driving a stolen car.

Deputies Paul Bean and Joel Slough were on patrol when dispatchers received a report of a stolen 1995 Mercury sedan. Deputy Slough responded to speak to the car’s owner; she said she’d been at a bar and the car had been stolen from the parking lot while she was inside.

Deputy Bean remembered seeing the car at a 63rd Street just a few minutes before. A man was standing beside it, pumping gas into the vehicle.

Deputy Bean began searching for the vehicle and found it at 15th Street. The same man was standing beside it, again pumping gas. He was identified as 38 year old Reuben Nolt, of Key West. Nolt claimed to be the owner of the car. He had no valid driver’s license.  He has a suspended Indiana license and a suspended Florida ID card.

A clerk at one of the gas stations said he’d tried to pay with a credit card with a woman’s name on it. The clerk kept the card, not charging it and turned it over to Deputy Bean when he arrived. Nolt had pumped $20 worth of gas. Marijuana was found in Nolt’s pockets.

He was arrested, charged with burglary, grand theft auto, two counts of theft and possession of marijuana. He was booked into jail.

March 4, 2010

Texas man dies diving

Key Largo – A man from Rockwall, Texas died while diving offshore of Key Largo Wednesday.

57 year old Thomas Pickett was on board a dive vessel operated by Silent World Dive Center, diving at     when the incident occurred.

Witnesses told Deputy Derek Paul Pickett had been diving at approximately 20 feet in depth. His dive buddy said he did not appear to have trouble during the dive. Other witnesses say Pickett surfaced and began to have trouble. He was pulled into the boat and was unconscious. He quit breathing so crew on board the boat began to perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. He was brought in to shore at Garden Cove Drive at the 106 mile marker of the highway. Paramedics met the boat at shore and transported Pickett to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be done t determine the cause of his death.

March 1, 2010

Businesses checked that sell alcoholic beverages

On February 27, 2010 the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division conducted an undercover operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in Marathon. Sixteen businesses were checked using an underage undercover operative who entered the business and attempted to purchase an alcoholic beverage. The businesses included restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Three of the businesses served alcohol to minors during the investigation. The 3 people were given notices to appear before a Monroe County Judge. 

The following are a list of the business, and suspects who sold the alcohol:

Villa Blanca Restaurant 2211  Overseas Hwy, Marathon.  Attendant – Fernando Davalos DOB 5/27/62 notice to appear issued.

Fairway Market 39th St, Marathon. Attendant – Mohammed Shiraj Hossain DOB 1/2/50 notice to appear issued

Belly Deli, 13333 Overseas Hwy, Marathon. Attendant – Sydonnies Scarlett DOB 1/2/80 notice to appear issued
The Sale Clerk violations are up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, $235 in court cost, $75 in cost of prosecution, and $40 in cost of investigation.

The Licensee Violations are:
1st offense $1000 fine and 7 day suspension
2nd offense $3000 fine and 30 day suspension
3rd offense Revocation of license.

The remaining business checked were in compliance with the law. This operation was conducted in cooperation with the Monroe County Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community.