Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

November 30, 2001

Robbery in Key Largo

Key Largo – A 17 year old Key Largo youth was arrested overnight and charged with robbing the night clerk of a Key Largo resort at gunpoint, while wearing a mask over his face.

The victim and a security guard at the Marina Del Mar Resort called the Sheriff’s Office after the incident to report the robbery. He told Deputies Kirstin Adams and Joe Moran that he was talking on the phone at 10:20 p.m. when the incident occurred. A man wearing a mask over his face and carrying a shotgun confronted him. The robber racked the shotgun, chambering a round in it, pointed it at him and told him to hang up the phone. He then demanded money.

The victim handed over cash from his cash drawer. The robber then forced him into a back room and made him lay on the floor. He pointed the shotgun at the back of his head and started laughing. The victim, thinking he was about to be killed, grabbed the shotgun barrel and a struggle ensued. The shotgun went off, but did not hit anyone. The suspect then grabbed the gun and left the building. Both the victim and the security guard saw him walking away toward the highway.

The victim and the security guard both said they recognized the gunman as a former employee of the resort, 17-year-old Logan Chappell of Key Largo. A notice to be on the lookout for Chappell was put out over police radios.

Two hours later, Chappell was located at a nearby restaurant by Deputy Kristy Jackson and Sgt. Pete Johnston. He was taken to the Plantation Key Substation for questioning. He admitted to committing the robbery and told Detective David Carey he’d thrown the mask and gun into a canal. He was arrested, charged with robbery with a firearm and wearing a mask while committing a felony offense and he was booked at the Monroe County Detention Center.

Search warrant served in Key Largo

Key Largo – Four people were arrested after detectives from the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division served a search warrant in Key Largo Wednesday afternoon.

The warrant was obtained after detectives received information from a Crime Stoppers tip and from other sources. Several drug purchases were made from the residence, located at 117 Point Pleasant Drive.

The search, which took place at 4 p.m.,  turned up 876 grams of marijuana in an upstairs “loft” bedroom. 23 year old Benjamin Morrison was arrested in connection with the marijuana and charged with possession of it with intent to distribute. He was also charged with three outstanding warrants for sale of cocaine.

Three others in the house were also arrested. 22 year old Matthew Stavor was charged with possession of 23 grams of cocaine, found in one of his pockets. 19 year old William Corbett was charged with possessing a small amount of marijuana. 21 year old Ricky Phillips was charged with an outstanding warrant for sale of cocaine.

Numerous items of drug paraphernalia were seized. All four people were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration assisted in the case.

Stock Island search warrant

Stock Island – A search warrant served at 8:30 a.m. Thursday by Special Investigations Detectives at a Stock Island trailer park resulted in two arrests.

The warrant was obtained after detectives received information from various sources including a Crime Stopper’s tipster. The search of the residence, located at #7 Coral Isle Trailer Park, turned up 40 grams of marijuana hidden under the kitchen sink, and smaller amounts of the drug and drug paraphernalia in a number of other places. Two grams of cocaine and various unidentified pills were also found in a jewelry box in a bedroom.

44-year-old Thomas and 42-year-old Linda Hersey were both arrested. Thomas Hersey was charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Linda Hersey was charged with possession of cocaine. Both were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. A .22 Caliber Ruger handgun and $711.00 in cash was also seized from the home.

The Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team assisted, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Stock Island search warrant

Stock Island - A search warrant served at 6 a.m. Thursday by Special Investigations Detectives at a 7th Avenue residence on Stock Island resulted in two arrests.

The warrant was obtained after detectives received information from various sources including a Crime Stopper’s tipster. The search of the residence turned up cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Ecstasy pills, and drug paraphernalia. Two men at the residence were arrested.

19-year-old Michael Preval was arrested after 50 Ecstasy pills, 18.5 grams of cocaine, a small amount of marijuana and numerous items of drug paraphernalia were found in his dresser. $682 in cash, found in his pants pocket, was seized, along with $64.00 found in the dresser.

21-year-old James Edwards was arrested after a small amount of marijuana was found in his bedroom, along with numerous items of drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with possessing five Xanax pills found in a kitchen cabinet and possessing 44 grams of marijuana found near a washing machine outside the trailer. Detectives seized $365.00 cash found in his bedroom as well.

Preval was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Edwards was charged with possession of a felony amount of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both men were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

The Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team assisted, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration.


November 29, 2001

Miami man charged with March carjacking incident

Marathon – A Miami man has been returned to the Keys to face charges of carjacking and aggravated battery on a person over 65 years of age. The incident took place in Marathon in March of this year.

The victim, a 67 year old Marathon man, was attacked as he sat in his car outside the Blockbuster Video store in Marathon. 22 year old Juan Perez of Miami, and another man grabbed the victim and tried to drag him out of the car.  When the victim refused to get out, they told him they would break both of his arms. He got out of the car, the two carjackers got in and drove away. The victim sustained minor injuries and his glasses were broken during the attack.

The stolen car was later recovered in Miami and Perez was arrested there for grand theft auto. Wednesday, he was returned to the Keys to face carjacking and aggravated battery charges. His bond is set at $10,000.00.


November 19, 2001

Man charged with having open house party

Marathon – A Marathon man was arrested Sunday in the early morning hours after deputies found he was having a party at his 79th Street home. Juveniles were found at the party, consuming alcoholic beverages.

31-year-old Edilberto Lopez was arrested after deputies responded to complaints of a loud party taking place at 4 a.m. Sunday, at 1077 79th Street Oceanside in Marathon. When Sgt. Sam Cassel and Deputies Joel Slough and Gerry Leathers arrived, there was a loud party in progress inside the home. The deputies could see, through windows, a number of people who appeared to be under the age of 21 consuming alcoholic beverages.

They knocked on the door, and saw the young people trying to hide the alcohol they were drinking. Once they got inside, they confirmed that there were underage people there. Lopez, who lives at the residence, admitted to knowingly serving juveniles alcohol.

He was transported to the Monroe County Detention Center on charges of holding an open house party, a second-degree misdemeanor. Once at the detention center, a bag of white powder was found in his pants pocket. The powder tested positive for cocaine. He was further charged with possession of cocaine and he was booked into the jail.

Man charged with firing flare gun at marina owner

Stock Island – A Key West man who lives on board a boat moored off of houseboat row was arrested Saturday morning after he fired a flare gun at the owner of Robbie’s Marina on Stock Island.

The victim told Deputy James Williams he spotted a boat belonging to 45-year-old Luis Lao at the shoreline of his property at 7:45 a.m. Saturday. He confronted Lao, asking him to leave the area. He said Lao became agitated, then loaded a flare gun, firing it at him, missing him by approximately three feet.

Deputy Williams arrived after the victim reported the incident to Sheriff’s Office dispatchers. Upon questioning, Lao admitted to firing the flare gun. He said he fired it at the water after the victim allegedly threw rocks at him.

Lao was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.


November 16, 2001

Attempted Carjacking and  kidnapping in Marathon

Marathon – A Lower Matacumbe Key man fleeing from the Guidance Clinic in Marathon was arrested for attempting to carjack two cars Thursday afternoon. Both cars had passengers in them at the time. One of the passengers was a five-year-old girl.

Dispatchers received a report from the Guidance Clinic that one of their residents had escaped by jumping over a fence at the facility. The caller said 18-year-old Ross Patterson then reportedly ran across the street to the vicinity of the Fairway Market on 39th Street.

Deputies responded to the Fairway Market just before 4 p.m. According to reports by Deputy Patrick McCroskey, Patterson ran up to a Mustang convertible parked at the gas pumps. He jerked the gas hose from the car, spraying the car’s owner with gasoline. He then jumped into the car with the owner’s wife and 16-year-old son still inside and attempted to drive away. The owner, Richard Preble of North Port, Florida, threw Patterson out of the vehicle.

Patterson then ran to a pickup truck belonging to Lyle Cameron of Marathon as Cameron was pulling away from the market. Patterson tried to open the pickup truck’s door but was unsuccessful.

He then ran to a white van parked in a nearby car wash stall. The driver, Kristen Schumacher of Marathon, was outside of the van washing it. Her five-year-old daughter was inside the car. Patterson jumped into the van and started the vehicle. Schumacher struggled with him as he tried to drive away. A witness to the incident, Jeffery Christensen of Key West, then came to her aid, grabbing Patterson and attempting to pull him from the van.

Patterson put the van in reverse and ran into a car, pushing it backwards. The impact knocked Christensen to the ground. The van then spun around and crashed into the nearby Columbia Propane lot, running over a number of propane tanks. Christensen and Cameron both pulled Patterson from the van, detaining him until deputies arrived.

Patterson was arrested and charged with carjacking, attempted carjacking, kidnapping and aggravated assault. He also received citations for reckless driving, improper backing and having no valid driver’s license. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

An examination of the propane tanks showed none of them to be punctured by the impact of the van. Schumacher and Christenson suffered minor injuries during the struggle, but required no medical treatment.

November 13, 2001

Key Largo Bank Robbery

 A suspect wearing a ski mask and possibly brandishing a handgun robbed the Community Bank at Key Largo (mile marker 100) this afternoon.

Bank tellers described the suspect as a white male, approximately 18 or 19 years old, who was wearing a black ski mask.

The robber reportedly confronted a teller with what looked like a black handgun.  The suspect jumped over the bank counter, grabbed cash from the till and fled from the bank.  Witnesses stated the suspect ran into a nearby wooded area.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies and Detectives searched the area with no results.  The Sheriff’s helicopter was also called out to help in the search.

No one was injured in the robbery attempt.

Anyone with information should call the Sheriff’s Office.  Crime Stoppers will pay cash reward of up to one thousand dollars for information leading to an arrest in the case. The Crime Stoppers hot line is 1-800-346-8477.


November 7, 2001

Miami couple charged with Heroin trafficking

Monroe County – A Miami man and his girlfriend, both wanted an outstanding warrants for Heroin and Oxycodone trafficking, were picked up Friday (November 2, 2001) as they were driving southbound in the Keys. They were both further charged with possessing Heroin after 34 grams of the illegal substance were found hidden in the car, and a small amount was found in the girlfriend’s purse.

Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at 7:45 a.m. at the 14 mile marker of Highway U.S. One. 45 year old Christopher Meyers was driving and his girlfriend, 35 year old Jean Borras of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida was a passenger. Both were arrested on outstanding warrants for trafficking in Heroin.

Their car was taken to Key West, where a Key West Police K-9 Unit was called for assistance. The K-9 unit alerted on the car, indicating the presence of drugs inside. 34 grams of Heroin were found hidden in the battery pack of a lantern in the back seat. A small amount of Heroin was found in Borras’ purse. Also found in the purse was $2,411 in cash

Meyers was further charged with trafficking in Heroin and Borras with possessing Heroin. They were both booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

November 5, 2001

Car Chase ends in Tavernier

A lengthy and dangerous car chase originating in Dade County ended at the 88.5 mile marker at about 2:15 p.m. Monday when Monroe County Sheriff's deputies spiked the tires of the fleeing man's car, flattening them. He was taken into custody without further incident.

The man, 26 year old Gil Costello of Homestead (DOB 04/17/75), reportedly severely injured a person in Dade County and stole an SUV. He was eventually forced to pull the vehicle to the side of the road after driving on the rims of the flattened tires for quite a distance past the spikes, which were thrown in front of the vehicle at Tavernier Creek. A previous attempt to spike the vehicle was unsuccessful. He jumped out of the still rolling vehicle on to the grassy strip at the side of the road and, as he was lying on the grass, the back tire of the SUV rolled over his leg. After he was subdued and searched for weapons, he was treated at the scene by Monroe County Emergency Services, after which he was taken to Mariner's Hospital for further treatment.

Costello also received other injuries when people, standing by the side of the highway as he passed, threw rocks, bricks, a bicycle and other items at the car. At one point, the driver's side window shattered, and the brick and a number of rocks were recovered from inside the car. Deputy Becky Herrin, spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office, said it was very lucky that nothing more serious occurred when the items were thrown. "People need to know that throwing items at the car was very dangerous. They could have hit another vehicle by accident, they could have hit a deputy, or they could have caused the fleeing vehicle to crash into another car. Someone could have been killed." In addition, Sheriff's dispatchers were deluged with phone calls from the public giving advice on how to stop the fleeing vehicle. "Our people are trained in how to handle incidents such as this. We know how to stop a fleeing car safely. For people to tie up emergency phone lines with calls such as these is not a good idea at all. Those lines are for emergency calls only," Herrin added.

Officers from Miami-Dade County followed the fleeing vehicle southbound on the 18 mile stretch as Costello ran a large number of cars off the road while passing in oncoming traffic. The Miami-Dade officers broke off when Costello reached Monroe County, and Sheriff's deputies from Monroe County picked up his tail shortly after that.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office policy dictates that deputies don't participate in "high-speed chases" due to the danger such chases cause to the public, but deputies kept the car in view while they readied Stinger Spike strips, used to stop fleeing cars slowly and safely. The car missed the first set of spikes thrown, but hit the second set at Tavernier Creek, puncturing at least one and maybe two of the tires. The SUV continued for some time after that, but was eventually forced to stop.

Costello will be charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding police and other charges may be brought in Monroe County as well. The most serious charges, however, will likely be brought by Miami-Dade Law Enforcement, who will be handling the actual incident which preceeded the flight to the Keys.

Costello is being evaluated at Mariner's Hospital in Tavernier. Depending on the extent of his injuries, he may face a judge in Monroe County Tuesday or Wednesday, where he will attend a First Appearance Hearing. At a First Appearance Hearing, arrestees have bond set and the judge determines if he or she is qualified for a Public Defender. It is unknown if he will face a judge in the upper Keys, or if he will be taken to Key West to the Main Detention facility and face a judge there.

Mug shots of Costello may be available tomorrow morning. After his first appearance, he will be returned to Dade County to face charges there.

Television helicopters followed the entire incident, filming the man as he fled south on U.S. One through Key Largo and into Tavernier. Commentators speculated that Monroe County Sheriff's Office might open one of the two drawbridges in the Keys to stop the man, however such action is against the policy of the agency, as is any type of stationary road block. Most law enforcement agencies have abandoned the use of such road blocks because of the dangers involved to members of the public and to law enforcement officers, and, in the case of a drawbridge, because of the danger of causing harm to the bridge itself.