Issued by the Media Relations Office,
Public Information Officer Deputy Becky Herrin
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December 31, 2014
Tailgate stolen in Marathon
The tailgate from another Ford truck was stolen from a parking lot last evening in Marathon as the owner was in the grocery store.
The victim said he backed the 2015 Ford F250 truck into a parking spot between the Publix grocery store and Bank of America at 7 p.m. and went into the store. He was there for about 20 minutes. He pulled out of the parking lot and began driving away when he noticed the gas cans that were in the back of the truck had fallen out. He then noticed the tailgate was missing.
Marathon man stabbed in the neck
A Marathon man was airlifted to a Miami hospital to be treated for a stab wound in his neck. The man who stabbed him was taken into custody, charged with aggravated battery.
The stabbing took place at 125 41st Street. The 59 year old victim – Ronald Jenkins - told deputies he was sleeping on the couch when 31 year old Terrence Ennis burst into the residence through the front door. The victim said Ennis attacked him for an unknown reason, stabbing him in the neck.
The victim was able to break away from Ennis and flee from the residence. He went to a residence on Louisa Street, where responding deputies found him. When Deputy Ben Elmore and Reserve Deputy Paul Petek arrived at 10 p.m. they found the victim lying face down on the front porch. Another person was holding a towel to his neck attempting to stop the bleeding. The victim was taken to Fishermen’s Hospital and then airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Ennis was found at a home on Washington Street and was taken into custody. In his pocket, Deputy David Lopez found a plastic prescription bottle with a white rock-like substance inside which later tested positive for cocaine.
Ennis was charged with aggravated battery, burglary with battery on the occupant, possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.
Man dies while diving
A Summerland Key man died while diving offshore of Key West Tuesday.
50 year old Robert Carney was on a private vessel – a 32 foot Contender - on a dive and spearfishing trip with five others. They were in the Dry Tortugas. The victim was on his first dive of the day with a dive buddy in about 72 feet of water at 1 p.m. when the incident occurred. The dive buddy said they were spearfishing and had been on the bottom for about 10 minutes when he noticed Carney’s regulator was out of his mouth. He then noticed Carney was limp and not moving.
He said he tried to pull Carney to the surface, but he was too heavy. He surfaced to get help.
Others on board the boat were able to get the victim up to the surface. The U.S. Coast Guard was notified. The vessel returned to Key West to the Coast Guard station where Carney was pronounced dead.
Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch responded and the victim’s dive gear was taken and will be examined. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of his death.
December 30, 2014
Gun confrontation with naked neighbor results in arrest
A man frustrated with his neighbor over loud music confronted him in the street with a gun early this morning and was arrested.
When deputies arrived on Palm Drive, Bay Point at 1 a.m., they found 29 year old Thomas Kerrigan pointing a loaded .44 magnum at his 56 year old neighbor, who was lying on the street completely naked. Kerrigan told Sgt. Trevor Wirth and Deputy Boyd Williams he was angry with his neighbor, who he says often plays loud music. He said on this occasion he walked down the street to pick up mail for a neighbor who is out of town. He said he heard loud music coming from the victim’s residence. He said he took the mail back to his home and retrieved the loaded firearm. He then went to the victim’s house to confront him.
Kerrigan said he pounded on the side of the residence and the victim came out of the house, naked. Kerrigan said he was startled and retreated into the street with the victim following. He said at one point, the victim came so close to him he had to push him away.
Kerrigan ordered the victim onto the ground, and then yelled for his girlfriend to call the Sheriff’s Office. When the officers arrived, they found Kerrigan still armed, holding the victim at gunpoint in the roadway. The officers said both men showed obvious signs they had been drinking alcoholic beverages.
Kerrigan was arrested. He was charged with carrying a concealed firearm and improper exhibition of a firearm. He was booked into jail.
December 26, 2014
Christmas Eve attack injures one
A Christmas Eve attack on Stock Island led to one man receiving stitches and another going to jail.
The 20 year old victim, who received five stitches to close a head injury, told detectives he was playing Xbox games on the front porch of a trailer in Roy’s Trailer Park at 1:30 a.m. His friend who’d been playing with him had gone to bed and his friend’s parents were inside.
He said he was attacked by a group of men who began throwing bottles, cans and Christmas decorations at him. He said the others in the trailer came outside when they heard the commotion. They all began to fight back as the suspects continued to throw things at them.
When Deputies Sean Moran and Aaron Coller arrived at the trailer park on Maloney Avenue, they saw the group of men described by the victim. As they drove up, the men ran. Deputy Moran was able to catch one of them. 21 year old Ricardo Demosthene was held as the investigation continued. He was later arrested. Demosthene was charged with two counts of battery on a person 65 years of age or older, battery, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. He was booked into jail. Investigations into others who were involved in the attack are continuing.
While giving charitable gifts, man’s vessel is burglarized
A Marathon man’s live aboard vessel was burglarized while he was handing out gifts to the needy.
The victim told Deputy Rosa DiGiovanni he was at the Marathon homeless shelter giving out Christmas gifts on December 23rd at 10 a.m. He said he returned home to his boat anchored in Boot Key Harbor to find someone had been on board.
The exterior of the vessel was vandalized, his batteries, generator, and solar panels were stolen along with cash, gift cards, electronic equipment, a knife collection, a television and medications.
December 22, 2014
Woman arrested for knife threats
A Big Pine Key woman was arrested Friday night after she threatened to kill a man and his small child.
The victim, his girlfriend and their two small children aged 7 and three months’ rent a room from the suspect, 55 year old Mary Woodrum at her house on Avenue B, Big Pine Key. They told Deputy John Gabay she has been making threats since they moved in two weeks ago. They said she accuses them of going into her bedroom and stealing her cocaine.
On Friday at 10:45 p.m. they were watching television in their room when they heard her yelling. When the victim opened the door, he saw her approaching with a butcher knife pointing at him. She told him she was going to decapitate him and then do the same to his baby. He told his girlfriend to call the Sheriff’s Office.
When Deputy Gabay and Sgt. Trevor Wirth arrived they spoke with Woodrum who said she had just smoked the last of her marijuana and there were no more drugs in the house. She denied making threats with a knife, although admitted making threats. The girlfriend and the 7 year old child, who were both present at the time of the confrontation, confirmed hearing the threats to decapitate her sibling.
Woodrum was charged with aggravated assault and she was taken to jail.
Miami man charged with business burglary
A Miami man was arrested Friday, charged with breaking in to a Key Largo business and attempting to steal a brand new all-terrain vehicle. The incident took place between 10 p.m. on December 13th and 5 a.m. on the 14th.
The owner of the business came to work on the 15th and noticed one of his new ATVs had been moved. It appeared that someone had tried to “hot-wire” the vehicle. When he checked his surveillance camera he saw the crime taking place so he called the Sheriff’s Office. ON the video was a red colored Ford Ranger pickup truck with oversized tires.
Detective Yunier Galvez received information a truck matching that description was at a construction site at the 88 mile marker of the highway. He went to that location and contacted the owner of the truck, 19 year old Christian Mandri of Miami.
When he was questioned, Mandri admitted to entering the business property and attempting to steal the ATV. He said entered the property of Riva Yamaha at the 102.5 mile marker of the highway. He said he attempted to install a battery in the vehicle, which did not have one. He said he brought fuel which he put in the vehicle. He said he brought pieces of wood to use as a ramp to put the vehicle in the back of his truck.
When asked why he didn’t end up taking it, he said “just could not do it”.
Mandri was charged with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief. He was booked into jail.
Boat in Key Largo is stolen, recovered
A 35 foot Everglades boat with three 350 HP Yamaha engines on the back was stolen from a Key Largo storage lot overnight between Thursday night and Friday morning. The boat was recovered in Medley, Florida and investigations into who took it are ongoing.
Deputy Edward Askins took a report of the stolen boat Friday morning. An employee of Gus’s Toy Box at the 104 mile marker of the highway showed up and found the side gate to the business open, an empty boat trailer used to block the entrance was moved and the boat had been stolen.
The boat, engines and the trailer they were on were all entered into both the Florida and National Criminal Information databases. Sunday afternoon, the Sheriff’s Office was notified the boat, intact with the engines and trailer, were all recovered by the Medley, Florida Police Department. Detective Bob Dosh has been assigned to investigate the case and will be working with a Medley Police detective in an effort to identify the person or persons responsible for the crime.
December 18, 2014
Deputies make marine violation arrest
Deputies on foot patrol on Big Pine Key arrested a man after finding he was in violation of his saltwater products license.
Deputies Donald Stullken and Wendy Negron were patrolling at an area known as the Horseshoe at the 35 mile marker of the highway at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. They spotted a man in a wetsuit, wading in waist deep water with a five gallon bucket. A woman was on shore nearby holding a mesh bag that appeared to be half filled. When the deputies asked what they were doing, the man, later identified as 33 year old Jonathan Pessas of Clearwater, Florida, said he was collecting marine invertebrates. He told the deputies he has a license, but could not produce it. In the back of his pickup truck there were numerous coolers with battery powered air hoses running to them. In the coolers were numerous species of marine life including soft coral, snails, sea urchins, sea cucumber, starfish, crabs and scallops.
Deputy Stullken called the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to check on the status of any licenses Pessas might have. FWC confirmed he does have a saltwater products license with a marine life endorsement. FWC Officer Adam Garrison told Deputy Stullken that Pessas was required to collect the marine life from the boat that is registered with the license; he said Pessas is not allowed to harvest marine life wading along the shore without the boat.
Approximately 1,300 live marine animals were returned to the water. Marijuana was found in Pessas truck, including 16 grams in the glove compartment which he said was his and 8 grams in a purse in the truck. The purse belonged to his girlfriend, Nicole 27 year old Hajewski. Pessas was charged with five counts of the applicable marine violation, Florida Statute 379.401.2a. He was also charged with possession of marijuana and he was booked into jail. Hajewski was issued a notice to appear in court for possessing marijuana.
Two charged with stealing storage containers from CVS
Two Miami residents were arrested Wednesday after an employee of the CVS Pharmacy in Islamorada saw them stealing storage containers from behind the store.
The witness said she saw 20 year old Michel Galindo and 19 year old Nicole Escorcia of Miami loading the containers into the back of their truck. She called the Sheriff’s Office and gave dispatchers a description of the truck – a green colored Dodge with some kind of wooden camper on the back.
Detective Sgt. Mark Coleman spotted the truck at 5:30 p.m. northbound at the 87 mile marker. He pulled it over as back up deputies arrived.
One hundred containers were found in the back of the truck. All of the containers had the CVS logon on them. The containers have a value of $75 each.
The witness identified the two as the people she saw stealing the containers. Escorcia and Galindo were both arrested. They were charged with grand theft and they were booked into jail.
December 17, 2014
Sobriety checkpoint leads to two DUI arrests
A sobriety checkpoint on Stock Island Friday night into Saturday morning led to the arrest of two drunk drivers. Officers working the stopped a total of 621 vehicles during the course of the checkpoint. Numerous traffic related citations were issued as well as warnings for minor safety violations.
29 year old Hugh Wells of Spring Hill, Florida pulled into the checkpoint in his blue pickup truck at 9:20 p.m. The vehicle smelled of alcohol, and there were numerous open containers of alcoholic beverages inside. Wells’ father and mother were also in the vehicle. Wells admitted to drinking alcohol prior to driving. After field sobriety exercises were administered, eh was arrested and booked into jail for driving under the influence of alcohol. His truck was towed because the other two occupants had also been drinking and were not able to drive it.
An FHP K-9 team was on scene at the checkpoint and alerted on the pickup truck indicating the possible presence of illegal drugs. Inside the truck a search turned up a small amount of marijuana on the front passenger side. Wells’ mother, Jill Wells claimed ownership of the marijuana and a smoking pipe also found. Jill Wells was issued a notice to appear in court for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
A white Avalanche pulled into the checkpoint just after midnight and had window tint which appeared to be darker than allowed by law, so deputies asked the driver to pull over so they could check the tint. When the driver, 24 year old Bradley Wells of Summerland Key, lowered his driver’s side window, deputies could smell the odor of alcohol. He was asked to exit his vehicle and, while he was walking he showed clear signs of being impaired. After field sobriety exercises were administered, Wells was arrested. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. He was also cited for having window tint darker than the allowable limit by law.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office organized the checkpoint, with assistance from the Key West Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
December 16, 2014
Two charged in connection with Stock Island burglary
Two Stock Island residents were arrested Monday, charged with dealing in stolen property. The two are accused of pawning jewelry stolen in a burglary that took place on November 20th.
Two women who live in an apartment on 12th Avenue, Stock Island called to report their residence was burglarized. They returned home from a trip to Miami and found jewelry and prescription medication missing from their apartment. Several days later, Detective David Cruz, who was assigned to investigate, was checking recent pawn records. He found a piece of jewelry from the burglary had been pawned at Southernmost Pawn Shop in Key West.
Records showed the jewelry had been pawned by 26 year old Erin Russo of Stock Island. The owner of the pawn shop told Detective Cruz a man had come into the shop with her to pawn the property. He identified the man as 32 year old Ruben Hernandez of Stock Island.
Detective Cruz obtained warrants for Russo and Hernandez and they were picked up Monday. Russo was charged with fraud and dealing in stolen property. Hernandez was charged with dealing in stolen property. Both were booked into jail.
December 15, 2014
More Lower Units stolen in Marathon, Lower Keys
Sheriff’s detectives in the middle and lower Keys are investigating marine related thefts over the weekend.
On Sunday morning, deputies took two reports of items stolen from Knight’s Key Campground in Marathon. Two Mercury 250 HP engines on a boat had the lower units stolen and a second boat was missing a GPS. Both boats were parked in a boat storage lot on the property. Also, a man who parked his boat at a friend’s house on Copa de Ora in Marathon called Sunday to report lower units taken from his two Yamaha 250 HP engines.
Sunday afternoon, a man who lives on Constitution Avenue on Big Pine Key called to report it looked like someone had stolen items from his neighbor’s boat. When deputies arrived, they discovered two GPS units and stereo equipment had been taken from the boat; the bottom floor of the residence had also been entered and a large amount of dive equipment had been taken.
Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.
December 12, 2014
Drug investigation results in two arrests, one person still wanted
Two people have been arrested on drug charges and one is still at large in connection with a search warrant served last week on Big Coppitt Key.
The search warrant was the result of an ongoing investigation by Monroe County Sheriff's Office HIDTA detectives, Homeland Security investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
On December 3rd at 6 a.m. the search warrant was served at 728 Prado Circle on Big Coppitt Key. The search turned up a large amount of marijuana – 479 grams – in the bedroom of 47 year old Michael Graziano, who was not at home at the time the search warrant was served. A small amount of marijuana was found in the bedroom of 54 year old Joseph Clements, who was at home. His girlfriend, 24 year old Taylor Elizabeth Krumenacker, was also on the premises. Clements told investigators cocaine, a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia found in the adjoining bathroom belonged to her. One roommate who was home at the time was not charged in connection with this case.
Clements, who is also known as “Joe Weed”, was found to have numerous ledgers. The ledgers implicate numerous local individuals who are allegedly involved in a large gambling operation. He said he is the person who takes the bets, manages the accounts and collects the debts. He said he is paid a percentage for his work.
The large amount of marijuana found in Graziano’s bedroom was packaged as if for sale. Clements told investigators Graziano travels to Miami on a weekly basis and picks up Marijuana, which he brings back to the Keys for resale. Graziano was arrested on Monday and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Clements was arrested today for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. At the time of his arrest he was found holding additional ledgers with names and amounts of recent bets.
Investigators currently hold an active warrant for Krumenaker regarding possession of cocaine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. She is still at large.
The investigation is continuing into the narcotics and gambling operation and more charges are expected.
December 10, 2014
Woman reports occupied burglary
A Marathon woman reported to the Sheriff’s Office a man broke into her house while she was sleeping.
The victim, who lives on 74th Street in Marathon, told Deputy Ben Elmore the incident took place in the early morning hours on Saturday. She said she woke up at 5:40 a.m. and found a man standing beside her bed. She said he was whispering things she could not understand and that he climbed in bed with her. She said they struggled and she managed to get away, and went into the bathroom adjoining her bedroom. When she came back out she said he appeared to be gone. A few minutes later, he reappeared and she grabbed her phone, telling him she was going to call police. That is when he fled from the house. She left the house and went to a friend’s house, but did not call the Sheriff’s Office.
The victim went to work that day, but decided to call the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident after several friends told her she should. She gave Deputy Elmore a piece of rope she said was left behind by the suspect. She describes the suspect as a white male with a heavy Hispanic accent. He was in his 30s, about 5 ‘ 7” tall with a muscular upper body, dark short hair, no facial hair and he was wearing a blue and white striped polo shirt.
Sheriff Rick Ramsay would like to remind people that even though the weather is cooler and some residents like to open windows and doors to let the cool air inside, it is important to make sure your home is secure before you go to bed, or before you leave the house. While we all like to think we live in a safe place, and for the most part we do, we still have to make sure we take pro-active steps to keep ourselves and our families safe.
December 8, 2014
More lower unit thefts in Marathon
Sheriff’s deputies took reports of more lower unit thefts in the Marathon area over the weekend.
All the boats were on trailers, most of which were parked in residential neighborhoods. Detectives are investigating the following cases:
Boat owners should take steps to secure their property using locking devices or by backing up their boat as close as possible to a wall or other solid object and lowing the engine so thieves cannot access the lower units. Residents of Marathon should check their own boats and any boats on neighboring properties whose owners are not home to see if lower units or other marine property has been stolen. If a crime is discovered, call the Sheriff’s Office immediately to report it.
Detectives have processed all the crime scenes for possible evidence and are checking all the locations for possible surveillance video of suspects and/or vehicles. Anyone who has information which might be pertinent to any of these cases should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 305-289-2430. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.
Man charged with unlawful conveyance of fuel
*****the record of this arrest has been expunged*****
Key Colony Beach man arrested for illegal dumping
A man from Key Colony Beach was arrested after he was caught dumping a large amount of yard waste at the end of Pescayo Avenue in Marathon.
The Sheriff’s Office was patrolling in the area of Coco Plum Drive on Friday just before 11 a.m. because of numerous complaints from residents in the area of illegal dumping. While on patrol, Sgt. Joel Slough saw a black Lincoln truck parked at the end of Pescayo Avenue. As he approached in his patrol car, the truck left the area. At that point, Sgt. Slough saw several piles of yard waste dumped in the area the truck had just left. One large pile appeared to be fresh tree trimmings.
Sgt. Slough followed the truck and pulled it over at the intersection of Coco Plum Drive and highway U.S. One. The driver was identified as 64 year old Lawrence Blessinger. There was also a female passenger in the truck. Blessinger told the sergeant he’d been looking at homes in the area to rent for a special occasion. There were fresh tree trimmings in the back of the truck which matched that dumped on Pescayo Avenue.
The passenger was interviewed. She told officers Blessinger hired her to do landscaping work for him at his Key Colony Beach home. She said he had driven them to Pescayo Avenue on several occasions to dump yard waste. She was taken back to Pescayo Avenue where she identified the waste they had dumped.
The waste was in excess of 500 pounds, making the crime of illegal dumping a felony. Blessinger was arrested and taken to jail. His truck was seized for possible forfeiture.
Sobriety checkpoint results in arrests
A sobriety checkpoint held Friday night into Saturday morning at the 103 mile marker of the highway in Key Largo resulted in the arrest of seven people on various charges.
Six people were arrested during the checkpoint for possession marijuana. One was arrested for not having a driver’s license. There were no arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol during the event.
28 year old Terence Gaffney of Key Biscayne, Florida was arrested after his 2013 Ford pulled in to the checkpoint and deputies noticed the distinct odor of marijuana coming from inside. A glass jar of marijuana was found in a backpack in the car. Three bags of what looked like candy were also found. The candy turned out to have a marijuana derivative in it. Gaffney was charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana. The passenger, 27 year old Christina Pasparakis of Key Biscayne, was issued a notice to appear in court after a small amount of the marijuana candy was found in her possession.
23 year old David Odio of Palmetto Bay, Florida failed to stop when ordered to at the checkpoint. His Honda Civic was stopped just past the checkpoint by deputies, who could smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside. A jar with marijuana was found behind the driver’s seat. He was arrested for possession of marijuana.
A gray Ford sport utility vehicle pulled up to the checkpoint and officers could immediately smell the odor of marijuana coming from inside. There were four young men in the vehicle. A passenger, ****this information is expunged**** had marijuana in his pocket and was arrested and charged with possession of the illegal substance. More marijuana was found in one of the rear seat pockets. The pocket was directly in front of rear passenger Marcus Riley of Tennessee. Riley admitted the marijuana was his, so he was charged with possessing the marijuana and also with possessing a small grinder found in the pocket with the marijuana. A bottle of vodka was found in the back seat of the vehicle which none of the vehicle’s occupants claimed ownership of. ****this information is expunged**** and Riely were booked into jail. The other two in the car were released.
Elmer Francisco Murillo Hernandez was stopped at the checkpoint driving a Honda van. Hernandez did not have a driver’s license and had never been issued one anywhere in the United States. He was arrested for driving without a license. He was booked into jail.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was assisting at the checkpoint and arrested a man for possession of marijuana. No further information available about this arrest.
Also assisting the Sheriff’s Office in the operation were members from the Key Largo Fire Department.
December 5, 2014
Fire at Marathon apartment complex
A fire at an apartment complex in Marathon overnight send one deputy to the hospital for smoke inhalation and caused an entire building at the complex to be evacuated.
When Deputies Orlando Alvarez, Ryan Aper and Tyler Blanton arrived on the scene at 240 Sombrero Road in Marathon at 2:40 a.m. people outside the apartments told them a child was still inside one of the two apartments that was on fire.
The three deputies, along with FHP Trooper Perlman found the bottom portion of apartment 10C in flames with heavy smoke in the area and the door to the apartment locked. As they were using a pry bar to try to open the door, a man carrying a child ran out of the door. The officers and firefighters then evacuated the rest of the building – which included a total of eight units - and City of Marathon firefighters began fighting the fire, which was reported as extinguished at 3:23 a.m.
All the deputies were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation and Deputy Aper was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital for more extensive evaluation. The county and state Fire Marshalls were notified and will be investigating the cause of the blaze.
Search warrant results in one arrest on drug charges
Tavernier - A search warrant was served this morning on a Tavernier residence. Detectives from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit, along with agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration served the warrant at 162 Jo Jean Way. Inside the residence detectives found 35 year old Richard Edward Thibeault.
The search turned up over 25 grams of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, over $1,100 - suspected proceeds from drug sales. Also found were over 12 grams of morphine (83 Pills), over five grams of Alprazolam (22 Pills), and two grams of Oxycodone (5 Pills). Thibeault was charged with possession of marijuana over 20 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, trafficking of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription.