Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Follow us on Twitter @mcsonews and on Facebook at MCSO – Florida Keys. All of our press releases can be found on our blog at floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com

June 30, 2015

Deputies investigate mailbox damage

Sheriff’s deputies took numerous reports in the early morning hours today of someone damaging mailboxes on Duck Key.

A witness saw a gold colored Dodge truck speeding away from the area just before 2 a.m. He said he believes the occupants of the truck are responsible for the damages to the damaged mailboxes. At least 17 mailboxes were found to have been damaged with an object – possibly a baseball bat. Most of the mailboxes were located on South Indies Drive, with others on Bimini Drive, Antigua Street and Bahama Drive.

Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff’s Office.

Pirate charged with disorderly conduct

Deputies responding to a “shots fired” call on the old Seven Mile Bridge Monday night arrested a man in a full pirate costume, complete with operational black powder pistols in holsters on each hip, a sword and two knives.

Dispatchers received a call at 8:20 p.m. The caller wanted to report a pirate firing a gun on the bridge. When Deputy Garrett Bragg arrived, he found 58 year old Jamie Spiering, who said he is an entertainer. He said he was on the bridge with friends for sunset. He admitted shooting both of his black powder pistols. He said there was no projectile loaded in the pistols, just the powder. He said he shot the guns safely,  toward the water. Witnesses contradicted his story, saying he fired one shot toward the water and one toward cars traveling on the bridge.

Spiering was taken into custody, charged with disorderly conduct and booked into jail.

June 21, 2015

House fire kills three

A mother and her two small children, ages 5 and 7, died in a house fire in the early morning hours this morning on Anguila Lane, Ramrod Key.

Sheriff’s Office dispatchers began receiving calls reporting the fire at 12:35 a.m. When deputies and firefighters arrived on scene, the home was fully engulfed. An older male sibling of the two children who were killed was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center for severe burns he sustained from the fire. A female sibling escaped from the burning home without injury.

The State Fire Marshal and Sheriff’s detectives are working together to determine the cause of the deadly blaze. Detectives are also working to notify family members of those who died. Names will be released as soon as they are able to do that.

Update on the deadly house fire on Ramrod Key this morning:

The people who died in the house fire were 46 year old Robin Ferrer; her son, Roman, age 7 and her daughter Hazel, age 5. Robin Ferrer’s older son, 18 year old Jacob Shores, was burned attempting to save his family. He is at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami where he is expected to recover from his injuries. Robin Ferrer’s older daughter, 19 year old Courtney Shores, also attempted to save her family. She was not injured.

Neighbors, other family members and deputies who arrived minutes after the call was dispatched also attempted to rescue those inside the burning house, but the flames and smoke were spreading too quickly for them to be able to enter the building.

The State Fire Marshal and Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives are investigating the cause of the fire.

June 20, 2015

Marathon man faces gun charges

A Marathon man is in jail, charged with pointing a gun at another man in a confrontation over a woman.

Deputies responded to Trailerama Trailer Park at 8:15 a.m. to reports of a man with a gun. When they arrived, the 38 year old victim said he was walking through the trailer park when 37 year old Chris Cortes came out of a trailer at lot #57 and began yelling at him about a woman. Cortes then walked underneath a nearby trailer and came back out with a gun. He pointed it at the victim, who thought Cortes was going to shoot him.

The victim told Cortes he was calling the Sheriff’s Office. Cortes then fled toward the trap yard at the rear of the trailer park.

Deputy Rosa DiGiovanni spoke with a witness who said she saw Cortes take the gun from under a washing machine at a trailer at the trailer park. She said she saw him point the gun at the victim.

The gun was recovered from under a nearby trailer, where the suspect is believed to have discarded it. A check on the serial number revealed it was reported stolen in April from Stock Island.

A warrant was obtained for Cortes and he was found later that afternoon. He was charged with aggravated assault and grand theft of a firearm. He was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm – he has over ten felony convictions in the state of Florida and is currently on active felony probation with the Florida Department of Corrections.

Tip leads to arrest on Miami murder warrant

A tip called in to the Sheriff’s Office led to the arrest of a Miami man on a warrant for second degree murder.

33 year old Steve Singleton of Homestead was apprehended Friday at 7 p.m. at 20 High Point Road in Tavernier. At the time of his arrest, he had a Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun in a backpack which turned out to be stolen in April of 2013 from Miramar, Florida.

Singleton, who is a convicted felon, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and with the warrant for second degree murder from Miami-Dade County. Miramar police were notified of the recovered stolen weapon.

June 18, 2015

Boat burglaries, Islamorada

Four boats were burglarized Tuesday night at Bud and Mary’s Marina in Islamorada.

Deputy Ray Jodlowski responded to the marina Wednesday just before noon. He spoke with the victims. One boat owner said a GPS was taken from his boat. The other three owners were missing large Yeti brand coolers from their boats.

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.

Man working on garbage truck is killed in accident

An employee of Key Sanitation was killed while working on a garbage truck yesterday in Key Largo.

59 year old Stanley Salatowski of Tavernier died from injuries he sustained while working on the truck. There were no witnesses to what happened, so the circumstances are unclear. The driver of the truck said they were at the Hampton Inn at the 102.4mm just before 10 a.m. He said he was in the driver’s seat and could not see his co-worker. He said when he didn’t hear anything from him, he exited the truck and found the victim on the ground, next to a dumpster, unresponsive. He said he does not know what happened.

Salatowski was transported to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. Deputies responding indicated the victim may have sustained some sort of “crushing” injury.

Man arrested for stolen truck

Sheriff’s deputies arrested a Key West man Wednesday evening for stealing his girlfriend’s truck.

The clerk at the Tom Thumb Food Store at the 88 mile marker called the Sheriff’s Office at 4:50 p.m. to report two men who were intoxicated and were trying to leave the store in a Silverado truck. She provided the license number of the truck which, when checked through computers, turned out to have been reported stolen from Key West.

As Deputy Todd Wyatt arrived, he saw the two men standing by the truck. The suspect, 53 year old Stephen Heredia was in the driver’s seat. He told Deputy Wyatt the truck belonged to his girlfriend.

Heredia was arrested. He was charged with grand theft and he was booked into jail.

Dive death, Upper Keys

A 65 year old Texas man died today just after surfacing from a dive on the wreck of the Spiegel Grove offshore of Key Largo.

According to witnesses, 65 year old Arne Berg of Dallas, Texas surfaced from a dive this morning and became unresponsive. He was brought on board the dive vessel, operated by Rainbow Reef Dive Center, and CPR was administered as the boat returned to shore. Paramedics met the boat at the Port Largo Subdivision and transported the victim to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead just before noon.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of his death.

Search warrant leads to drug arrests

Five people were arrested after a search warrant was served at a Big Pine residence this morning.

The search warrant was served at 31036 Avenue D, Big Pine Key at 6:15 a.m. by the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit with assistance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security and Sheriff’s detectives. Five people were on the property at the time.

A search of the property turned up over 28 grams of cocaine, marijuana, various prescription pills and drug paraphernalia. All five people were arrested. They face charges stemming from the search warrant, and two of them face charges from outstanding warrants as well.

June 15, 2015

Marine related thefts county-wide

Sheriff Rick Ramsay wants to remind everyone that marine related thefts happen frequently in the Keys. Everyone should remove fishing gear and electronics from their vessels when they are not in use and should take precautions to protect motors and lower units as well.

Deputies took reports of a number of marine related crimes over the weekend in various areas of the county:

Body found offshore of Key West is identified

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit say the Medical Examiner’s Office has tentatively identified the body found on a sailboat offshore of Key West.

The body is believed to be that of 39 year old Jason Atkins. Initial examination and autopsy did not turn up any obvious signs of foul play involved in the death.

Atkins was found dead on his sailboat Thursday by a friend who heard his dog barking continuously and went to check on him.

Norwegian man reported missing; detectives ask for help

A Norwegian man who is believed to have traveled to the Keys in May has been reported missing by his family.

The son of 56 year old Giuseppe Codiglia traveled to the Keys to report his father missing on June 8th. Mats Codiglia Weberg told deputies and detectives his father usually calls him and other family members a couple times a week, but they have not heard from him since May 25th.

Weberg said his father traveled to the U.S. in February to visit a friend in New Jersey. The friend told Weberg his father had purchased a beige 1992 Chevrolet motor home in Las Vegas. The motor home was registered in the friend’s name because Codiglia was not a U.S. Citizen. The friend told Weberg Codiglia was staying in his driveway in the motorhome, but left suddenly on May 22nd, without giving a reason.  

The motor home turned up in the Florida Keys, a few days later in the parking lot of Big Pine Boat Rental. The manager of the business had it towed because she said it was parked in the parking lot for two days. Deputy Richard Wang checked to see if Codiglia rented a boat from that business or any other boat rental business, but did not find anyone who’d seen him or rented a boat to him. The manager of Parmer’s Resort on Little Torch Key told Deputy Wang Codiglia stayed at the resort on May 24th, checking out on the 25th.

A search of the motorhome at the two company where it was being stored revealed Codiglia left many personal items inside, including a cell phone and his Apple laptop computer and many items of clothing. An empty gun case was found in the motorhome. Paperwork in the case indicated it contained a .38 caliber Charter Arms revolver. Also not found: his wallet, passport, keys or a second I-phone he was known to have.

Codiglia is described as a white male, six foot four inches tall, 240 pounds with short brown hair and brown eyes. He has fair skin and is usually clean shaven. He has surgical scars on both knees and may be wearing a small gold necklace. Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo has been assigned to the case and has registered Codiglia with FDLE’s Missing Persons Information Clearinghouse, as well as ensuring Codiglia is listed with FCIC / NCIC as a missing person. Anyone who has any information about Codiglia, or who has seen him should call Detective Cuervo at 305-797-0064.

June 11, 2015

Update on death investigation

Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives are still investigating the death of a man offshore of Key West. His body was discovered on board a sailboat this morning by a nearby live-aboard boater.

The man who called to report the body said he’d heard a dog barking continuously from a nearby sailboat. He decided to go check on the dog and, when he did, he saw a hand on the deck of the boat. He took the dog – a one and a half year old Pit Bull - with him and called the Coast Guard to report the possible presence of a dead body.

The Coast Guard in turn called the Sheriff’s Office. Detectives responded to the sailboat with the help of the Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Their investigations on the scene revealed a white male, 39 years old, with no obvious signs of trauma that would indicate foul play. The body was badly decomposed. Detectives say their investigation indicated he was last seen alive on Saturday.

A syringe was found near his body with a liquid substance inside. His hand was missing, and was found outside on the deck where the dog was located. It appears from bite marks on the hand the dog may have pulled the hand off of the body after the man died.

The Medical Examiner responded to the scene and took custody of the body. He will be performing an autopsy to determine the cause of the  man’s death. The man’s name is being withheld until next of kin can be notified.

Death investigation

Sheriff’s detectives responded to reports of a dead body on board a sailboat offshore of Key West near Wisteria Island this morning.

A man called the Coast Guard this morning to report seeing the body. The Coast Guard then notified the Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit have confirmed the presence of a body and are currently investigating the circumstances of the death.

June 9, 2015

Attempted murder suspect turns himself in

A 26 year old wanted for the attempted murder of his mother’s boyfriend turned himself in to Monroe County detectives today.

Adrian Rodriguez is accused of hitting 47 year old Daniel Rivero twice in the head with a glass ashtray as he lay sleeping in bed on the night of May 12th. Rodriguez then allegedly broke two cell phones his step-father might have used to call for help and left the scene, northbound headed for Miami. As he was driving north, he called 911 and reached a Miami-Dade dispatcher, reporting that someone was bleeding from the head at 103100 Overseas Highway in Key Largo. He then hung up before the dispatcher could get more information. Information from the call was relayed to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, who sent deputies and paramedics to that address.

When they arrived, they found Rivero with a serious head injury. He was taken to Mariner’s Hospital and then airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center for treatment.

As detectives investigated at the scene the morning of May 13th, Rodriguez showed up. When investigators interviewed him, he admitted to making the 911 call but told them he’d found the victim on the floor of his bedroom bleeding from the head. He denied hitting the victim. During the course of the investigation, there were many inconsistencies found between the story the suspect told and the evidence found at the scene.

The victim told Detective Bob Dosh Rodriguez and he were the only ones home that night. He said he went to bed and woke up to pain in the back of his head. When he touched his head, he saw blood on his hand. He then tried to get up and fell to the ground, then saw a large amount of blood on the floor by the bed. When he was able to stagger into the kitchen, he found two cell phones – his and his girlfriend’s – broken. He said they were not broken when he left them there the night before.

He managed to make it outside and that is when deputies and paramedics showed up to help him. The victim had a fractured skull, a brain bleed and swelling on the brain. Medical personnel told Detective Dosh the injuries, if untreated, could have been fatal.

The victim told Deputy Dosh he believes Rodriguez hit him and left him to die over $550 rent Rodriguez and his mother owed him.

Rodriguez is in jail, charged with attempted murder and criminal mischief. His bond is set at $76,500.

June 8, 2015

Update on in-custody death: toxicology report indicates high level of cocaine in Clifford Greene’s blood

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement brought Sheriff Rick Ramsay up to date today in their ongoing investigation into the in-custody death of Clifford Greene. Greene died after being placed under arrest on April 8th after a traffic stop in Key Largo.

The preliminary toxicology report from the Medical Examiner’s office indicates a high level of cocaine present in Greene’s blood.

Greene was being transported to jail in the back of a Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle when he had what appeared to be a seizure. Deputy Thomas Hill, who was driving the patrol car, immediately stopped and rendered aid to Greene, but Greene subsequently died at Mariner’s Hospital. Deputy Hill reported finding a cellophane bag in Greene’s mouth with a white powdery substance in it. The bag was recovered and is being tested at an FDLE lab in Fort Myers.

“All of the information I have is consistent with an accidental overdose of cocaine,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “I have reviewed the audio and video evidence and I have not seen or heard any indication there was a struggle of any kind in the apprehension, arrest, or transport of Mr. Greene. While we will have to wait until the conclusion of the independent FDLE investigation and subsequent review by the State Attorney’s Office, it does not appear there was any wrongdoing on the part of the deputies involved,” Sheriff Ramsay said.

The FDLE investigation into Greene’s death is continuing.

June 5, 2015

Man charged with stealing fishing gear

An employee of a charter company in Marathon was arrested Thursday and charged with stealing rods and reels from two boats and pawning them at a local pawn shop.

25 year old Christopher Purcell is accused of stealing rods and reels from two charter boats at Sea Dog Charters in Marathon. He stole the items on several different occasions, and also took fishing gear from the owner of the charter company. He then pawned a number of them at a local pawn shop. After the crimes were reported to the Sheriff’s Office, detectives checked the pawn shop database and discovered the items had been pawned by Purcell.

When detectives questioned Purcell, he admitted to stealing the rods and reels. He returned some of them but said he pawned some and traded others for drugs.

After further investigation, warrants were issued for his arrest. On Thursday, he was booked into jail charged with four counts each of burglary and grand theft and three counts of dealing in stolen property. He was also charged with two counts of giving false information at the pawn shop.

Body tentatively identified

A body recovered from the waters offshore of Big Coppitt Key on Wednesday has been tentatively identified as a man reported missing from his Big Coppitt Key home in April.

Major Crimes Detective Manny Cuervo says the body was badly decomposed, and so far there is no scientific evidence to confirm the identification, but items found with the body are consistent with missing man Paul Brackens. Brackens was reported missing by his roommate on April 30th.

She told investigators she last saw him on the evening of April 27th. He left behind all of his personal belongings, including his parrott, his medications, cell phone, wallet, bicycle and all of his clothing.

Detective Cuervo says there are no obvious signs of foul play, but an autopsy has not been performed yet. He says all of his investigations so far indicate Brackens may have committed suicide.

Alcohol compliance checks, Middle and Upper Keys

On Thursday, the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit conducted alcohol compliance operations in the Middle and Upper Keys. The purpose was to check businesses that sell alcohol to see if they are in compliance with the laws regarding sales of alcohol to minors.

In the Middle Keys, 15 businesses were checked and all businesses were in compliance with the law.

In the Upper Keys, nine businesses were checked and five of them served alcohol to a minor:

•  Crazy Billy’s Convenience Store - 74052 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.    Attendant: Matthew R. Greenwald, 31 years of age.  Notice to appear issued (NTA).
•  Dion’s Quik Mart - 81644 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.   Attendant: Rashads A. Richards, 22 years of age.  Notice to appear issued (NTA).
• Two Martinis Fine Wine Liquor Store - 81655 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.  Attendant: Hat Sidor, 53 years of age.  Notice to appear issued (NTA).
•  Tiny’s Bait & Gas Station - 82788 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.   Attendant: Susan B. McKee, 62 years of age.  Notice to appear issued (NTA).
•  Marlin Food Store - 88601 Overseas Highway, Islamorada.    Attendant: Linda Kelly, 66 years of age.  Notice to appear issued (NTA).

The Sale Clerk violations are:

Up to 60 days in jail, a $500.00 fine, $235.00 in court cost, $75.00 in cost of prosecution, and $40.00 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 businesses 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.

June 4, 2015

Man arrested for entering aircraft with intent to stow away

A homeless man was arrested at the Key West Airport today after he broke into a plane and was found sleeping in the cargo area of the plane when airline employees got there  this morning.

32 year old Jamie Crabtree told Deputy Maureen Smith he arrived by Greyhound bus Wednesday night. He said he jumped the barbed wire fencing around the restricted part of the airport, walked over to a Delta plane parked on the tarmac. He was able to break the seal on the door to the aircraft and enter the plane. He fell asleep on the plane and was found still sleeping by Delta employees arriving at 6 a.m. today.

He told Deputy Smith he intended to stow away on the aircraft because he wanted to leave the country. Crabtree was charged with burglary and trespassing on posted airport property and he was taken to jail.

Key Largo man wanted for attempting to murder mother’s boyfriend

A 26 year old Key Largo man is wanted on an outstanding warrant for the attempted murder of his mother’s live-in boyfriend.

Detectives say their investigation revealed Adrian Rodriguez allegedly hit 47 year old Daniel Rivero twice in the head with a glass ashtray as he lay sleeping in bed on the night of May 12th. Rodriguez then allegedly broke two cell phones his step-father might have used to call for help and left the scene, northbound headed for Miami. As he was driving north, he called 911 and reached a Miami-Dade dispatcher, reporting that someone was bleeding from the head at 103100 Overseas Highway in Key Largo. He then hung up before the dispatcher could get more information. Information from the call was relayed to Monroe County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, who sent deputies and paramedics to that address.

When they arrived, they found Rivero with a serious head injury. He was taken to Mariner’s Hospital and then airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center for treatment.

As detectives investigated at the scene the morning of May 13th, Rodriguez showed up. When investigators interviewed him, he admitted to making the 911 call but told them he’d found the victim on the floor of his bedroom bleeding from the head. He denied hitting the victim. During the course of the investigation, there were many inconsistencies found between the story the suspect told and the evidence found at the scene.

The victim told Detective Bob Dosh Rodriguez and he were the only ones home that night. He said he went to bed and woke up to pain in the back of his head. When he touched his head, he saw blood on his hand. He then tried to get up and fell to the ground, then saw a large amount of blood on the floor by the bed. When he was able to stagger into the kitchen, he found two cell phones – his and his girlfriend’s – broken. He said they were not broken when he left them there the night before.

He managed to make it outside and that is when deputies and paramedics showed up to help him. The victim had a fractured skull, a brain bleed and swelling on the brain. Medical personnel told Detective Dosh the injuries, if untreated, could have been fatal.

The victim told Deputy Dosh he believes Rodriguez hit him and left him to die over $550 rent Rodriguez and his mother owed him.

Rodriguez is wanted for attempted murder. Anyone with information about his location 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 the apprehension of Rodriguez, 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.

June 3, 2015

Detectives investigate body found offshore

Sheriff’s Major Crimes detectives are investigating a body found offshore of the bayside of Big Coppitt Key today.

The body was first found by a fisherman who reported it to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission just after 1 p.m. FWC assisted with recovery of the unidentified and badly decomposed body of a man.

The Medical Examiner also responded and will be examining the body and performing an autopsy in the hopes of both identifying who he is and discovering how he died.

Detective Patricia Garcia is assigned to investigate the case.

Woman jogger attacked in Marathon – more information available

A 22 year old woman, jogging in Marathon, was attacked Tuesday morning.

The victim said she was on the bike path on Knight’s Key headed toward the old Seven Mile Bridge at 5:30 a.m. when a man grabbed her from behind. She said she yelled and screamed for help and fought him off. She was able to escape and hid in bushes nearby. When it became light, she came out of hiding and approached another jogger who helped her call the Sheriff’s Office.

She suffered minor injuries. Detectives say the description of her attacker is sketchy, but he may be a white male, approximately 5’9” tall with a thin build. He was wearing a gray long sleeve T-shirt and cargo shorts and his face was covered with a buff-type face mask over the lower part of his face, like those fishermen use to protect their faces from the sun. During the attack, the victim said she bit him on his hand, between the thumb and forefinger. Due to this, the attacker may have a visible bite mark in this area.  She also says after she broke away from him, he ran toward the parking lot of the bridge where she believes a white truck or SUV was waiting. A witness, who was parked on the bridge at the time of the attack, said he saw a white full sized Ford truck that quickly left the area.

“This is a very unusual crime for our county. Attacks like this one don’t happen often here,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We want to urge anyone who knows anything about this crime to come forward as soon as possible. We have a safe community and we would like to keep it that way by catching this man and putting him in jail.”

The investigation into this incident is ongoing.  Anyone with information about this crime 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.

Man dead after swim at Fort Jefferson

A 76 year old man from Amelia Island, Florida died while swimming at Fort Jefferson Tuesday morning.

According to Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch, Guy Maddox was at the fort with his wife and a group of friends. They were swimming when he became unresponsive. A woman he was swimming with noticed his unresponsive state and pulled him in to shore where there were unsuccessful attempts made to revive him.

Detective Zuelch responded to the fort with the help of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. His body was brought back to Key West and an autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death. At this time, there is no foul play suspected in his death.

June 2, 2015

Man reported missing, found dead in a canal

A 66 year old man reported missing by his roommate at 12:30 p.m. Monday was found dead, floating in a canal near his home a couple of hours later.

The 51 year old roommate said she last saw George Maichin at 9 p.m. on Sunday before she went to bed. She said he was drinking alcohol and taking pain medication for an injured shoulder. She said she went into his room at 7 a.m. and he wasn’t there, but his wallet, credit cards and cell phone were there. She said she thought that was strange and looked all over the property for him but didn’t find him. She said she also called all of his friends and his daughter, who asked her to call law enforcement and report him missing.

Deputy Freddy Rodriguez responded to the house on Pine Channel Drive on Little Torch Key and took a missing person’s report. He checked the property and the surrounding area and did not find Maichin. Several hours later, Sheriff’s dispatchers received a call from a woman checking on a friend’s house on Bayview Drive on Little Torch. She said she’d spotted a man’s body floating in a canal near the house.  When deputies arrived, they discovered the body was that of Maichin.

According to detectives there were no signs of foul play upon initial examination of the body. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Woman jogger attacked in Marathon

A 22 year old woman, jogging in the early morning hours in Marathon, was attacked this  morning.

The victim said she was on the bike path on Knight’s Key headed toward the old Seven Mile Bridge at 5:30 when a man grabbed her from behind. She said she yelled and screamed for help and fought him off. She was able to escape and hid in bushes nearby. When it became light, she came out of hiding and approached another jogger who helped her call the Sheriff’s Office.

She suffered minor injuries. Detectives say the description of her attacker is sketchy, but he may be a white male, approximately 5’9” tall with a thin build. He was wearing a long sleeve T-shirt and shorts and his face was covered.

“This is a very unusual crime for our county. Attacks like this one don’t happen often here,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We want to urge anyone who knows anything about this crime to come forward as soon as possible. We have a safe community and we would like to keep it that way by catching this man and putting him in jail.”

The investigation into this incident is ongoing.  Anyone with information about this crime 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.

June 1, 2015

Three charged with burglary

A phone call from an alert citizen resulted in the arrest of three people for burglary.

A man returning home at 1:30 a.m. spotted a suspicious vehicle towing a boat. The vehicle was leaving the Charley Toppino and Sons property on Rockland Key. He said it caught his eye because the vehicle was driving fast and was coming out of a gate that was usually locked. He followed the vehicle and called the Sheriff’s Office to report it.

He said the vehicle pulled in to the Circle K Store on Big Coppitt Key, but pulled out again onto the highway when the driver saw him. He continued to follow until Florida Highway Patrol Trooper McGlynn stopped it at the 20 mile marker, with the assistance of Deputy Jorge Prince. The witness then returned to Toppino’s property to give his information to Deputy Darren Jenson.

Evidence found at the scene of the burglary indicated someone had cut locks to the gate leading in, and to a tool shed. Locks were also cut to a separate part of the property, where the boat the vehicle was towing had been stored. The doors on the back of a large box truck had been forced open and a  vessel parked on the property appeared to have been entered as well. It looked like a radio had been removed from the boat.

The three people in the vehicle that was stopped were questioned. They gave inconsistent statements. The driver, 38 year old John Hayden of Bunnel, Florida, said the boat’s owner told him to take it because it had mechanical issues and needed to be worked on. In the vehicle deputies found tools and a marine radio all of which were possibly taken from the Toppino’s property.

Hayden, 26 year old Michelle Burrell of Key West and 35 year old Demetrius Randley of Summerland Key were all arrested. They were charged with burglary, possession of burglary tools, criminal mischief and loitering and they were booked into jail. They face additional charges once detectives can examine the scene and speak with victims in more detail.

Multiple vessel burglaries in Marathon

Several vessels kept at a Marathon marina were burglarized overnight between Thursday and Friday.

Seven boats at Shelter Bay Marina on Coco Plum Road in Marathon had electronics and fishing equipment stolen. Crime Scene Detective Barney Sajdak responded to the scene and processed all of the boats for possible evidence.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay continues to remind people to remove such items from their boats when they are not in use. This applies even if the boat is being kept in marina storage. It is also a good idea if you are keeping your boat in storage at a marina to ask detailed questions about security in place at the business, such as working surveillance cameras, proper lighting, and other security measures in place.

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.

Man found dead on boat

A 24 year old Islamorada man was found dead on a dry docked vessel at the Catamaran Boat Yard in Key Largo Saturday afternoon.

Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch says there were no obvious signs of foul play in evidence on the body. An autopsy will be done today in an attempt to ascertain the cause of his death.

Paramedics and deputies responded to the boat yard at 3 p.m. to a report of a medical emergency with someone having trouble breathing. When they arrived, they located 24 year old Jovan Hanna unconscious, not breathing on the boat. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Detective Zuelch has been assigned to investigate the case.

Man with drug warrant also charged with possessing drugs

A man with an outstanding warrant for sale of cocaine faces additional charges for possessing cocaine when he was arrested on the warrant.

Special Investigations detectives went to the Looe Key Tiki Bar Friday evening where they found 56 year old Vincente Blanco of Key West sitting at a table near the bar. They told him he was under arrest for the outstanding warrant. When the detectives asked if he was in possession of anything illegal, he admitted to having 20 grams of cocaine in individual plastic bags hidden in his pants. He was also found to have over $1,000 in cash, believed to be proceeds from drug sales.

Blanco was charged with sale of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

Two charged with lying after traffic accident

Two people were arrested Saturday afternoon after they lied about who was driving a vehicle involved in a traffic crash.

Deputy Greg Korzen responded to the crash site at U.S. One and the south end of College Road on Stock Island just before 1 p.m. A Chevy truck rear-ended a Hyundai Sonata at the traffic light. A woman identified herself as the driver of the truck. There were three other people in the truck. One of them – 31 year old James Moody of Atlantic Beach, Florida – turned out to be the actual driver at the time of the crash.

During his investigation, Deputy Korzen spoke with the driver of a vehicle which was also stopped at the light. The witness – who is a Border Patrol agent and former state trooper – said he saw the crash occur. He said immediately following the crash, he saw Moody climb into the back seat of the truck and saw the woman move from the front passenger seat to the driver’s seat.

When Deputy Korzen interviewed everyone in the truck, they all insisted the woman was driving. He finally confronted the woman with the information he had from the witness. She finally admitted she was not driving and Moody was. A second man in the truck – 23 year old Timothy Woodward of Merritt Island, Florida – continued to insist Moody was not driving even after being informed about the witness.

A check on Moody’s driving history showed multiple DUI arrests and multiple license suspensions. He was arrested and charged with driving with his license suspended with knowledge, giving false information during a crash investigation, having no proof of insurance and following too close. Woodward was also arrested and issued a notice to appear in court on charges of allowing an unauthorized person to operate his motor vehicle.

Hialeah man caught stealing truck running boards

An alert deputy on routine patrol caught a Hialeah man who had just removed the running boards from a truck on Knight’s Key in Marathon.

Deputy Tyler Blanton was on routine patrol at 4 a.m. Sunday when he spotted a sport utility vehicle parked on the side of Knight’s Key Boulevard, on the grass. When he shined his flashlight inside, he saw a woman sleeping in the passenger seat. When she woke up, she said her boyfriend had left the vehicle to go to the bathroom. She could not say how long he had been gone.

While checking the area nearby, Deputy Blanton spotted a man walking down Kyle Way. He had two large objects over his shoulder that turned out to be the running boards he had just removed from a truck. When the man – later identified as Michel Arnero of Hialeah – saw the deputy following him, he dropped the running boards and fled.

More deputies responded to the scene. Arnero continued running and hiding from deputies until they finally cornered him near Knights Key Boulevard. He was arrested. He admitted to stealing the running boards. He said he used a headlamp and a wrench to do so. He was charged with burglary of a vehicle, possession of burglary tools, grand theft and resisting arrest. He was booked into jail.