Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
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December 31, 2016
No major injuries in deputy involved crash
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating a crash in the early morning hours involving a deputy’s patrol vehicle and two other cars at the 16 mile marker of Highway U.S. One.
There were no major injuries involved in the crash. Deputy Daniel Hill reported that he was northbound at 12:30 a.m., returning to his Marathon duty post after transporting a prisoner from Marathon to the Stock Island Detention Center. He said he saw an oncoming vehicle pull into his lane of travel and it was too late to avoid the crash.
When other deputies arrived at the scene, they found Deputy Hill’s patrol car upside down in the roadway. He had gotten out of the vehicle, uninjured, and had gone to render aid to the occupants of the other vehicles.
The road was closed for approximately two hours as the Florida Highway Patrol investigated the circumstances of the crash. That agency will be releasing more information as they complete their investigation.
December 29, 2016
Man arrested for disturbance on bridge
A man from Knoxville, Tennessee was arrested early today after causing a disturbance on the Seven Mile Bridge.
Deputies responded to a call from a security guard at the Sunshine Key campground. The guard said a man was driving recklessly and yelling, causing a disturbance in the campground. When Deputy Christopher Schwartz arrived at 2:30 a.m., the guard told him the man was driving a smoke gray truck. He said the man – later identified as 22 year old Fortune Odendhal – had been yelling “they took my brother” and seemed to be on drugs.
Deputy George Zakariadze spotted the truck speeding northbound on the bridge. Drivers on the bridge called dispatch to report Odendhal was periodically stopping the truck, getting out and running in front of cars, yelling incomprehensibly. Deputy John Allen responded from Marathon and saw Odendhal jump onto the roof of a car on the bridge. He then jumped down and sat on the side of the bridge with his head down.
Deputy Allen ordered Odendhal to lay down and put his hands behind his back. Odendhal complied and was taken into custody. His truck was removed from the bridge. Odendhal was charged with disorderly intoxication and he was booked into jail.
December 27, 2016
Traffic stop leads to auto theft arrest
Deputies on patrol in Islamorada spotted a stolen vehicle and arrested the woman driving it Monday afternoon.
Deputies Eric Viergutz and Nicholas Thaler spotted the stolen Toyota Prius southbound at the 87 mile marker at 3:30 p.m. The car had been reported stolen from Miami Dade County. There were two women inside the vehicle when it was stopped.
The stolen car was driven by 42 year old Eleanor Smith, who told the deputies she’d just moved to Florida from Rhode Island. She said she’d borrowed the car from a man she knows as “Uber Man”, who lives at a motel in Homestead. She said he is known as “Uber Man” because he drives lots of different cars. She said she paid him $60 to borrow the car; she claimed she did not know it was stolen.
Smith was arrested and charged with grand theft auto. She was taken to jail. Once at the jail, deputies found a driver’s license in someone else’s name along with four credit cards under other people’s names.
Smith claimed the driver’s license and credit cards belonged to various friends and family members. Deputy Viergutz made contact with the family of the woman whose driver’s license was in Smith’s possession. They said no one had permission to have the identification.
Smith was additionally charged with possessing another person’s ID. More charges may be pending in the case.
December 26, 2016
Man charged with multiple burglaries on Little Torch Key
A Little Torch Key man is in jail charged with multiple burglaries on Little Torch Key.
Deputies responded to Lobster Tail Trail on Little Torch Key Christmas morning to reports of multiple vehicle burglaries. When they arrived, they began speaking with victims and discovered two attempted residential burglaries and a boat burglary as well.
Investigations led officers to a home on Coral Shores Road, Little Torch Key. They identified several people who lived in the house and obtained permission to search the house for any possible stolen property.
Inside the house, in a room belonging to 22 year old Jenner Pizarro, they found a large amount of stolen property from the burglary cases, including a prescription pill bottle, a state park pass, a makeup bag, a purse, a pair of shoes and some women’s clothing, dive gear, fishing gear, sleeping bags and several vehicle insurance and registration cards from the burglarized vehicles.
Pizarro could not explain how all the stolen items got into his room. He was arrested and booked into jail, charged with four counts of burglary, three counts of grand theft and one count of theft.
December 24, 2016
Man shoots, kills friend with shotgun
A Marathon man shot and killed his friend after an altercation Friday night in Marathon.
The 47 year old suspect, Gary Moore, called the Sheriff’s Office after shooting his 46 year old friend, John Stevens in the stomach with a shotgun.
The shooting took place at the suspect’s residence, 10660 7th Avenue Gulfside at 9:30 p.m. Stevens had been staying at the residence for the past four months in a travel trailer parked on the property. According to Moore, the victim hit him so he shot him in the stomach with his shotgun. The victim was dead at the scene. The suspect had a cut over his eye when deputies took him into custody.
Neighbors heard the shot and helped to direct arriving deputies to the house where the incident took place. Moore was outside the residence and was cooperative with law enforcement when they arrived. Witnesses interviewed about the two men say they got into a physical altercation a couple of weeks ago as well.
Moore has been charged with manslaughter. He was booked into jail on the charges this morning.
December 21, 2016
More charges in Sugarloaf burglaries
Detectives say they have brought more charges against a suspect in connection with burglaries which took place on Sugarloaf Key at the end of November.
There were at least two attempted burglaries and four actual burglaries that took place around the same time on Sugarloaf Key and on Bay Point, all of which are believed to be connected.
22 year old Yurisandro Leon was originally arrested on December 15th in connection with an attempted burglary on Banyan Lane, Sugarloaf Key. Detectives arrested him after receiving a Crime Stoppers tip. He has now been charged with two more counts of burglary, another count of criminal mischief and with grand theft in connection with burglaries on Bonefish Lane West and Hawksbill Lane.
A car found on property where Leon lives on Hansen Trail, Sugarloaf Key was searched at the time of his first arrest. Detectives found property which connected him to a burglary in the city of Key West. Leon cooperated with detectives from the Sheriff’s Office and Key West Police, and assisted them in their investigations. As a result, detectives have identified two other suspects in the burglaries.
16 year old Ignacio Valdez, who was charged by Key West Police with burglary and grand theft is believed to have been involved in the Sugarloaf Key and Bay Point burglaries with Leon; detectives are still investigating his involvement and charges may be pending against him. He is currently being held in a juvenile facility in Miami on a 21 day hold.
18 year old Josue Forno was arrested on December 13th on Stock Island after he was stopped by Deputy Lazaro Valdez and found to be in possession of a controlled substance – 47 Tramadol pills for which he had no prescription; he also had Marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He also is a suspect believed to have been involved in the Sugarloaf and Bay Point burglaries. His connection is still being investigated.
This investigation is ongoing. Detectives are still processing tips, evidence and information in connection with the cases.
December 20, 2016
Two charged with stealing pipe from construction site
Two Miami men were arrested Monday night, charged with stealing a large amount of both copper and CPVC piping from a construction site in Marathon.
Sheriff’s Office dispatchers received a call at 6 p.m. The caller said two men driving a U-Haul truck were at a construction site at 13351 Overseas Highway taking copper pipes and putting them in the truck. The caller, a supervisor at the construction site, said no one had permission to take the pipes.
Deputy Rosary Ponce was north of the construction site and saw the U-Haul truck as it left the area northbound. She stopped the truck and identified the two men inside as 57 year old Lazaro Gregoria Salabarria and 47 year old Feliz Layva. Investigations revealed Salabarria works for one of the companies operating at the construction site. His supervisor is the one who called in the theft report; the supervisor said Salabarria was supposed to be working at a construction site in Miami Beach and did not have permission to take the pipes from the site in Marathon.
Both Salabarria and Layva were arrested. They were charged with grand theft and they were booked into jail.
December 19, 2016
Tampa man dies after diving
A 57 year old man from Tampa died today after scuba diving at Davis Reef offshore of Islamorada.
Lloyd Beale surfaced from a dive at about 10 a.m. and began to climb out of the water onto a dive vessel owned by Conch Republic Divers out of Tavernier Creek Marina. As he climbed on board, he collapsed. He was pulled onto the boat and CPR was performed as he was brought to shore. The boat was met on shore by paramedics who transported Beale to Mariner’s Hospital where he was deceased.
Major Crimes Detective Dawn Augusto was assigned as investigator on the case. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.
December 16, 2016
Man reports being robbed in Marathon
A 29 year old Marathon resident told deputies he was robbed of his cash Thursday night.
The victim said he was in the rear parking lot of the Dion’s gas station at 62nd Street in Marathon at 9 p.m. when the incident took place. He said a large black male riding a bike approached him and asked if he wanted to buy Marijuana.
The victim said he declined to purchase the marijuana and at that point, the man punched him, knocking him to the ground. He said the man jumped on him, punching him several more times, then ripped his pants pockets open and took his cash. At that point, the victim said a white truck drove up and interrupted the attack. The suspect fled on his bike.
The victim had minor injuries and refused medical attention. He said the man who attacked him was wearing a gray colored hoodie sweatshirt and red shorts with white shoes. Deputies canvassed the area for the suspect, but did not find anyone fitting the description in the area.
Detectives will be investigating.
Key Largo man charged with sexual battery
A 29 year old Key Largo man was arrested and charged with beating and sexually battering a woman.
The victim is an acquaintance of the suspect. On December 13th she told Detective Patricia O’Keefe that James Urban sexually battered her and beat her in July of this year.
The attack took place at the victim’s home. At one point, Urban hit her and knocked her out. He also put his hands around her neck and choked her during the attack. She told the detective he had sex with her against her will and that she was afraid he would kill her.
Urban was arrested on Thursday and charged with sexual battery. He was booked into jail.
Man arrested for Sugarloaf burglary
A 22 year old Sugarloaf Key resident was arrested Thursday, charged with committing an attempted burglary on Banyan Lane, Sugarloaf Key.
A caller to Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys identified Yurisandro Leon as one of the suspects in a video posted on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. The video depicts three men attempting to break in to a home at 16623 Banyan Lane, Sugarloaf Key on December 3rd.
After receiving the tip, Deputy John Gabay and Detective David Brummer interviewed Leon in connection with the burglary. He was also interviewed in connection with a burglary that took place in the city of Key West.
He was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted burglary and criminal mischief. He was also charged by Key West Police with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief.
Detectives are continuing to investigate other burglaries that took place in the Sugarloaf Key and Bay Point areas around the same time as this one.
December 11, 2016
Two charged with gun threats
Two Stock Island men are in jail charged with threatening a couple with guns Saturday night on Stock Island.
Deputies responded to Stock Island Apartments on 3rd Avenue at 9:30 p.m. to reports of a dispute involving guns. When they arrived, they found the two victims. The suspects had fled the area.
The 17 year old female victim said she and her 18 year old boyfriend were walking to the parking lot of the apartment complex when a Dodge Charger sped up to them. The driver was the ex-boyfriend of the female victim. She identified him as Adrian Zuniga Fuentes. A passenger in the car was identified as Alejandro Puentes Caridad.
She said Fuentes got out and pointed a silver handgun at her boyfriend. She said she pushed him away, but he grabbed her leaving bruises on her arm. She said Caridad then got out of the car with a shotgun, but didn’t point it at anyone. Witnesses who were in the area saw the incident and tell a similar story to the victim’s account of what happened.
The two suspects then got back into the car and left the area. Caridad was later located in the city of Key West. He was arrested. He told deputies Fuentes was headed out of the county. Fuentes was stopped in the Dodge Charger by Sgt. Evan Calhoun and Deputy Wendy Negron at the 22 mile marker of the Highway northbound.
Fuentes was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated battery; Caridad was charged with being an accessory to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. They were both booked into jail.
December 8, 2016
Search warrant on Stock Island
A search warrant was served this morning at a residence on Laurel Avenue on Stock Island.
Detectives from the Special Investigations Unit, along with Lower Keys Criminal Investigations detectives and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security served the warrant at 5700 Laurel Avenue, Lot-48, in Stock Island. Inside the residence detectives found 28 year old Shanon Jackson, 36 year old Mayo Anderson and two other adults, a woman and a man.
The search of the residence turned up approximately 3 grams of crack cocaine, twelve assorted pills including Oxycodone, Heroin, Marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Some of the drugs were found in a bedroom where two small children were sleeping.
Jackson was charged with possession of heroin, possession of crack cocaine with the intent to sell, child neglect, possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia. Anderson was issued a Notice to Appear in court for possession of Marijuana. Jackson was booked into the Key West jail.
Miami man charged with theft, dealing in stolen property
A Miami man was charged Wednesday with stealing tools from a co-worker and pawning them.
The theft took place in June. The owner of the tools reported they were located in a bin at a Key Largo work site and included a Makita electric drill, Makita electric hammer drill and a Makita handheld grinder. A man who used to work for the company and was fired a few weeks previously was seen near the tools just prior to them going missing.
Detective Ian Barnett discovered the tools had been pawned at a Miami pawn shop. Pawn shop records showed the man who pawned them was the same ex-employee who’d been seen near the tools before they were stolen. He was identified in the pawn records as 28 year old Daniel Greenidge.
A warrant was issued for Greenidge’s arrest and on Wednesday he was booked into jail on charges of grand theft and dealing in stolen property.
Detectives investigate Lower Keys burglaries
Sheriff’s detectives are investigating residential break-ins which have taken place in the areas of Sugarloaf Key and Bay Point recently. Two attempted burglaries and four actual burglaries have taken place in that area since November 30th.
On the 30th, in the early morning hours, residents of a home on Starfish Lane on Lower Sugarloaf Key called to report an attempted break in. They said they were sleeping when they heard a bang and their alarm went off. Investigations showed pry marks on several doors and a sliding glass door had been lifted from its tracks. While deputies were on the scene, they discovered a break in next door, at a vacant residence. A door was found open and the inside had been ransacked. It appears nothing was taken from the home, despite the damage done.
Just a few hours later, the owner of a home on Rosaland Road, Upper Sugarloaf reported his home had been burglarized. He told detectives the house is vacant and he has cameras at the residence; he found someone had disabled the cameras overnight. Investigations showed the cameras had been broken. Suspects had entered the residence and taken computer and electronic equipment; they also took tools and damaged a number of items as well. A short time later, plumbers working on a vacant home on Bonefish Lane East found a back door pried open. Papers in the house had been strewn about and drawers left open inside but it appears nothing of value was taken.
On December 3rd, shortly after midnight, deputies responded to an alarm call and found an attempted burglary at a home on Banyan Lane, Sugarloaf Key. Surveillance cameras at the residence were smashed. And sometime between December 5th and the 7th, a vacant residence on Bay Drive, Bay Point was burglarized. A handyman who works at the home came over to pick up a tool he’d left there and found a window shattered and the door unlocked. Someone had ransacked the inside, left the fridge open and had taken two televisions; a third television was damaged when someone apparently tried to pull it from the wall.
Detectives are investigating. They say it appears the suspects are primarily targeting vacant homes. On at least two occasions, alarms have interrupted their efforts. People who live in the area should be particularly vigilant and should be on the lookout for anyone suspicious in the neighborhood. If you see a person or a car that is unfamiliar, or acting suspiciously, particularly near homes that are unoccupied, they ask you call the Sheriff’s Office right away at 305-289-2351. Deputies can respond immediately and check out the suspicious person or vehicle. Keep a close eye out for changes at homes that are vacant, such as lights suddenly turned on or cars parked in the driveway. If you hear dogs barking in your neighborhood, look outside and see if anything suspicious is taking place. If you see something, make sure you call right away so we can send a deputy to check it out.
Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.
December 5, 2016
Woman arrested for animal cruelty
A Marathon woman was arrested Sunday for choking a six month old Siberian Husky in front of witnesses.
Those witnesses told Deputy Joshua Baer the incident took place on November 20th . They said they found the female, Lulu, wandering near Aviation Boulevard in Marathon. They recognized the dog and knew she belonged at Coconut Cay Apartments.
They took the dog home and returned her to 45 year old Diana Linares, who is the mother of the dog’s owner. After they returned the dog, they saw a man at the apartment lift the dog by her front paws and hit her with a knee to her chest several times. They then saw Linares repeatedly pick the dog up by the collar, lifting her completely off the ground and choking her. She choked her repeatedly for up to 30 – 60 seconds at a time.
The two witnesses managed to talk Linares into giving them back the dog. They took the dog to Marathon Veterinary Clinic for an examination. The dog had sustained an injury to one of her eyes which the veterinarian said was due to either asphyxiation or blunt force trauma.
Animal Control responded to the clinic and referred the animal abuse case to the Sheriff’s Office for investigation. A warrant was obtained for Linares who was booked into jail on Sunday, charged with cruelty to animals.
Key West man faces drug charges
A Key West man who was driving erratically is facing drug charges after a traffic stop Friday afternoon.
Deputy Matthew Corey stopped the white Chrysler at 1:45 p.m. Friday after he spotted it speeding northbound at 17th Street in Marathon. He had received previous information from a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent who had seen the vehicle passing in a no passing zone at the 15 mile marker of the highway and driving carelessly on the Seven Mile Bridge.
When he pulled the car over, he approached the driver, identified as Dwayne Ritchie of Key West. As he spoke with Ritchie, he could smell the distinct odor of marijuana coming from inside the car.
As he spoke with Ritchie, he noticed Ritchie was nervous. When he asked for Ritchie’s identification, Ritchie indicated it was in a backpack behind the passenger seat.
Deputy Josh Baer arrived on the scene as backup. The deputies asked Ritchie if they could retrieve the identification from the backpack for safety reasons. Ritchie agreed.
In the backpack, the deputies found a Glock handgun and two magazines with 20 rounds of ammunition. They also found what looked like a ledger containing information which appeared to be related to drug sales. In the main compartment of the backpack they found 218 grams of marijuana packaged for sale.
Ritchie was arrested. As he was being transported to jail, he said he was traveling from Key West to Marathon to sell the marijuana.
He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Inmate dies while in detention facility
An inmate at the Stock Island Detention Center died today of what appears to be natural causes.
The 54 year old man was arrested on December 4th by Key West Police on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court, ref. trespassing on the beach after hours.
At the time of his death, he was being held in the sick bay facility of the jail due to chronic health conditions. There are no signs of foul play. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.
December 2, 2016
Man arrested for threatening lieutenants life
A Florida City man with a violent criminal history was arrested Thursday, charged with threatening to shoot a Sheriff’s Office lieutenant in the head.
Sheriff’s detectives received information from a source that 47 year old Johnny Nash was planning to shoot Lt. Al Ramirez in the head because he holds the lieutenant responsible for his arrest in October for Sale of Cocaine. The information was Nash specifically said he planned to “ambush” the lieutenant at Friendship Park in Key Largo, take the lieutenant’s own firearm away from him and shoot him in the head with it.
Nash was arrested in October on an outstanding warrant for Sale of Cocaine. The warrant stemmed from a September incident where an undercover operative purchased cocaine from Nash on Hibiscus Lane in Key Largo.
Nash has a past arrest history which includes possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and attempted first degree murder. The attempted murder occurred in Florida City; he was convicted and served 8 years in prison.
He has also made other threats against law enforcement officers. Sources reported to law enforcement that he threatened to kill a Key West Police detective in September of this year and also had plans to kill a law enforcement officer during Fantasy Fest or Goombay in October of this year.
Nash was booked into jail on felony charges of making threats against a law enforcement officer. His bond is set at $75,000. Nash is being charged under a new Florida statute which just took effect on October 1st of this year, Florida Statute 836.12 makes it unlawful to make threats against law enforcement officers, state attorneys, assistant state attorneys, firefighters, judges, elected officials or family members of those persons.
“We take threats against anyone seriously,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay, “but this statute gives us a new tool when it comes to threats against law enforcement. We will not tolerate threats against our officers and will move quickly and decisively to make an arrest when someone threatens one of our own.”
Childcare Worker charged with leaving child in hot van
A worker at a Key Largo childcare facility was arrested today, charged with leaving a four year old child in a childcare van for 48 minutes. When the child was found in the van, he was dehydrated from the heat and was transported to Homestead Hospital where he recovered after treatment.
The suspect, 26 year old Kyle Lynch of Key Largo, told Detective Robert Dosh he was aware of the facility policy which requires a detailed accounting of each child. He admitted to violating that policy, causing the victim to be left in the van. According to investigations, the incident took place on November 25th. Lynch transported 14 children in a company van. When he arrived at his destination, he let the children exit the van without counting each child as required. Consequently, one child was left inside. Lynch then entered the child care facility and did not realize one child was missing until 48 minutes later. A short time later the child was found in the van and was removed and taken into the air conditioned building and cared for with cold towels and fluids as paramedics were called to the scene.
A warrant was obtained for Lynch’s arrest and today he turned himself in on charges of unlawful desertion of a child.
December 1, 2016
Marathon man charged with stealing tools
A Marathon man was arrested Wednesday for stealing tools from the Home Depot store in Marathon.
At 12:30 p.m. Sgt. Chuck Kellenberger was driving by a wooded area on the west side of Home Depot in Marathon when he spotted a man behind some trees. He stopped to investigate the possible trespassing. The man was identified as 48 year old Todd O’Quinn. He noticed that O’Quinn was removing a blue Makita tool bag from a cardboard box and had a yellow Dewalt miter saw box on the ground nearby.
O’Quinn told the sergeant that a friend gave the tools to him. During the course of the encounter with officers, O’Quinn changed his story several times about where he got the tools.
Deputies Joshua Baer and Willian Guerra arrived on the scene. Deputy Guerra got the SKU numbers from the tool boxes and went to Home Depot to see who might have recently purchased the tools. Home Depot told Deputy Guerra the tools were still on their inventory and had not been sold to anyone.
O’Quinn admitted to having been in Home Depot earlier that morning. He said he got a cup of coffee, but did not admit to having stolen the tools.
O’Quinn was arrested. He was charged with grand theft and he was booked into jail.