Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
Daily Crime and Information Report

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

Click on the highlighted headlines to hear an audio recording of the story


February 28, 2008

Search warrant served in Marathon

Marathon - Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigations Division served a search warrant Wednesday at an apartment on 23rd Street in Marathon.

When detectives entered the residence just after 9 p.m. at 152 23rd Street, apartment #3, 44 year old John Davis of Homestead was in the act of cooking crack cocaine. When he heard the officers, he threw the six grams of cocaine he was cooking at the wall. One gram of cocaine was found in Davis' shirt pocket. An additional four ounces of crack cocaine liquid was near the stove, waiting to be processed. Eight more grams of powdered cocaine were also located in the kitchen, in a butter dish, along with an operational drug lab with chemical beakers, crack cooking utensils and cutting agents.

Davis was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine and tampering with evidence. Three others were in the apartment with him. 33 year old Christie New of Stock Island and 45 year old Dorothy Howard of Marathon were charged with possessing drug paraphernalia  after both were found to have pipes in their possession. 44 year old Joseph Brandon of Homestead was charged with possession of cocaine after he was found to have powdered cocaine on his hands, and on his shirt and pants.

Assisting in the investigation and in service of the warrant was Marathon road patrol and the Homestead Police Narcotics Unit.

Marathon man charged with burglary, battery

Marathon - A 32 year old Marathon man is in jail for breaking in to his wife's residence Tuesday night, then beating and choking her.

The victim, and a friend who witnessed the attack, told Deputy Colen Bradford they were on the computer and the victim's two small children were in their bedroom when 32 year old Santiago Fernandez burst in, breaking a chain lock on the door. He hit the victim in the face and, during the course of the attack, choked her. According to the report, she had bruising on her cheek and her neck.

When the victim's friend threatened to call the police, Fernandez finally left the home. A warrant was obtained for Fernandez and on Wednesday he was arrested and booked at the jail on charges of burglary and battery.

February 25, 2008

Homestead man returned to Monroe County to face bank robbery charges

Marathon - A Homestead man has been returned to Monroe County to face charges he robbed the Orion Bank in Marathon in December of 2006.

37 year old Alexis Perez-Herrera is in the Monroe County Detention Center. In January 2007 he was identified as the man who robbed Orion Bank in Marathon on December 7th 2006. Detective identified him using surveillance tapes and fingerprints; a warrant was issued for his arrest just a month after the robbery, but he was in custody in Miami-Dade County for seven similar robberies in the Homestead area.

February 22, 2008

Marathon man in jail for stabbing another man

Marathon - A Marathon man is in jail this morning charged with stabbing another man after an argument.

35 year old Abel Gutierrez and the 22 year old victim were at a home on Coco Plum Drive at 9:45 p.m. Thursday with a group of men. The two got into an argument which escalated into a physical fight. During the fight, the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim in the upper left chest. The victim left that residence and went to another location on Coco Plum Drive.

the Sheriff's Office was called and found the victim bleeding from the wound on his chest. He was taken to Fishermen's Hospital for treatment. The victim told them where to find the suspect.

Deputy Gregg Johnson and Key Colony Beach Officer Smith located the suspect and several witnesses. The witnesses said they saw Gutierrez stab the victim during the fight. Gutierrez was still on the scene. During the course of his arrest, Gutierrez refused to follow the officers orders and struggled with them as they took him into custody. He was charged with aggravated battery and he was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center

February 17, 2008

An accident Saturday afternoon killed two people on Card Sound Road. The vehicle, reportedly a Sport Utility Vehicle, went off the road and into about 6 - 8 inches of water at about 3:45 p.m. just south of the Card Sound Bridge. Two people were reportedly killed inside. Card Sound Road was closed until 7:30 p.m. as the Florida Highway Patrol conducted it's investigation. Call FHP for more details.

February 16, 2008

Sketch of suspect

Detectives search for man who attacked a woman in her home

Key Largo - Sheriff's detectives say they are looking for a man who may have followed a woman, then attacked her in her home Friday.

The 30 year old victim lives on Michelle Drive in Key Largo. She told Deputy Francisco Gaete she left work shortly after noon and thought she saw a vehicle following her. To be safe, she stopped at her boyfriend's place of employment, a short distance from her home. When she didn't notice the car anymore, she decided perhaps she'd not really been followed after all, so she went home.

She went inside and walked into her bedroom. When she went back out into her living room, a man had entered through her unlocked front door and was standing inside. He pushed her down and grabbed a necklace she was wearing, pulling it off. She began yelling loudly and he fled.

The suspect is described as a white male, 5' 11" to 6' 1" tall, over 45 years of age, and between 260 - 270 pounds. He had short "buzz cut" hair, turning grey. He was wearing shorts, and was possibly driving a silver colored Ford Taurus with a University of Miami tag on the front.

Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff's Office or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if the information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Drug operation nets seven

Stock Island - Sheriff's detectives from the Special Operations Division conducted a reverse drug sting operation at 4th and 3rd Avenues on Stock Island Friday night, with an undercover operative selling crack cocaine. Seven people were arrested. Lower Keys detectives, road patrol officers and the Sheriff's Special Weapons and Tactics Team assisted in the operation.

Man arrested for selling stolen lap top to undercover operative

Islamorada - A Marathon man is in jail, charged with dealing in stolen property after he sold a stolen lap top computer to a undercover operative with the Sheriff's Office.

In August of 2007, an Islamorada woman told deputies she gave a ride to two men and, when they got out of her car, they took a bag with a number of items inside including a lap top computer. Detectives assigned to investigate received information someone was trying to sell a laptop. They were able to make contact and set up a meeting in the parking lot of a Key Largo business. At that time, an undercover operative purchased the lap top for $200 from a man named "Barry". Barry told the undercover operative two friends of his stole it from a woman in Islamorada.

Further investigation identified "Barry" as 37 year old Barry Zinger of Marathon. A warrant was obtained for his arrest on charges of dealing in stolen property. On Friday, Zinger was arrested and booked into jail on the warrant. Bond is set at $20,000.00.

Marathon teen charged with having sex with young girl

Marathon - An 18 year old Marathon teen was arrested Friday, charged with having sex with a 14 year old girl.

In December, the young girl confided in a teacher that she was having sex with 18 year old Vantrail Moore. She told the teacher another girl knew about the activity and told her mother about it and she was concerned about what her mother would do. At about that same time, after hearing her daughter was having sexual relations, the mother went to the school to file a complaint.

Detectives were assigned to investigate. The mother told them she realized the sex between her daughter and Moore was consensual, but she felt he should know better than to have sexual relations with a 14 year old. She said she wished to press charges.

A warrant was obtained for Moore and on Friday he was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child under the age of 16 and he was booked into jail. His bond is set at $10,000.00.

February 15, 2008

Little Torch man charged with burglary

Big Pine Key - A Little Torch man was arrested early Thursday when he was found wearing two gold bracelets stolen in the burglary of a Big Pine residence.

The burglary took place in the early morning hours Thursday at a house on Palmetto Avenue. The victims said they believe someone entered their home through a sliding glass door while they were sleeping and took several items including two large gold bracelets, a watch, a laptop case, sunglasses and a wallet with credit cards and cash inside. Deputy Freddy Rodriguez was parked in a parking lot just off of U.S. One working on the burglary report when he saw 25 year old Alexander Chavez riding through the lot on his bicycle. The deputy noticed Chavez was wearing two large gold bracelets similar to those stolen earlier from Palmetto Avenue.

The deputy stopped Chavez for further investigation. Chavez gave several different explanations for where he got the jewelry he was wearing. Deputy Rodriguez took the bracelets and detained Chavez in connection with the burglary. When he told Chavez why he was being detained, he at first denied being involved. He then began to plead with the deputy not to arrest him. He said he'd tell Deputy he'd help him find the other stolen items if he would agree to let him go.

Chavez was charged with burglary and grand theft and he was taken to jail. The bracelets were positively identified by the victim as the ones stolen from his house. They were returned to the owner.

Key Largo woman charged with trafficking cocaine

Key Largo - A Key Largo woman was arrested for trafficking in cocaine after she was caught with 78 grams of cocaine in her car.

Detectives from the Special Investigations Division received information a black Lincoln Navigator was being used to transport cocaine in the vicinity of Key Largo. Just before 11 a.m., an SUV fitting that description was spotted southbound at the 102 mile marker of the highway. The vehicle was pulled over and the driver was identified as 50 year old Martha Collins-Matthews of Key Largo.

The detective began to talk with her and she spontaneously said, "What you are looking for is in the back seat." She opened the back door and lifted the center console of the back seat to reveal a blue plastic container with a white lid. The 78 grams of cocaine were inside.

Collins-Matthews was placed under arrest for trafficking in cocaine and she was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

February 14, 2008

Plantation Key woman charged with burglary

Plantation Key - A Plantation Key woman was arrested Tuesday, charged with burglarizing a trailer she was watching for the owner.

The burglary took place in late December or early January. Deputy Ralph Williams responded on January 13th to Seabreeze Trailer Park after the owner called from out of town to report the burglary. She said a neighbor called her and told her the door to the trailer was open. She had a friend check and he found items missing from inside including two television sets, a DVD player and a VCR.

Further investigation by Deputy Williams revealed the stolen items had been sold to other residents of the trailer park by 48 year old Marie Gillan, who had a key to the trailer and was charged with watching the property for the owner. The stolen items were recovered and a warrant was issued for Gillan's arrest. On Tuesday, she was charged with burglary, theft and dealing in stolen property and she was booked into jail.

Stock Island man charged with helping burglarize residence

Stock Island - A Stock Island man was arrested Wednesday, charged with helping another man burglarize a house on Roberta Street, Stock Island.

On February 6th, 21 year old Yoandry Alfonso drove the car that took 21 year old Orestes Ferrer to the residence in question. He waited as Ferrer forced open the door, went inside and took a gun and other items. Later, when the victim confronted Ferrer, Alfonso drove Ferrer back to Roberta Street where he threw the stolen gun into a boat in front of the residence.

Alfonso admitted to driving Ferrer and he also allegedly knew Ferrer was going to commit the burglary. He was charged with burglary and theft for assisting with the crime and he was booked into jail.

February 12, 2008

Trauma Star picks up sick man on Boot Key

Click here to see photos

Marathon – The Trauma Star crew was called on Saturday to pick up a man suffering from an illness in unusual circumstances.

The man was on Boot Key in Marathon. He called Sheriff’s dispatchers at 11:50 a.m. to say he needed help, but he was losing consciousness and was disoriented and he couldn’t give them his location. Because the bridge is no longer accessible by motor vehicle two Monroe County Fire Rescue Paramedics jumped on a couple of bicycles, took some medical packs with them and headed over the bridge to look for him. The Trauma Star crew on duty was monitoring radio traffic and said they would take off and look for the man and pick him up if they could.

The man was located by both the paramedics and Trauma Star. The helicopter was able to land on Boot Key and pick him up. He was flown directly to Fisherman’s Hospital in Marathon for treatment.

Woman injured after fall from third story balcony

Islamorada – A West Palm Beach woman is in critical condition today, being operated on for injuries she sustained in a fall from a third story balcony at the Holiday Isle Resort in Islamorada.

Deputies responded to the call at 3:20 a.m. today. When they arrived, they found 52 year old Donna Gornto injured. She had somehow fallen from a balcony on the third floor. She’d been staying at the resort with her boyfriend and her 12 year old son.

Her boyfriend, 49 year old Cyrille Wendling, said after they went to sleep he woke up once and saw that she’d moved from the bed he was in to her son’s bed. He said he went back to sleep, then woke up again to find her gone from the room. He said he noticed the balcony door was slightly open so he went out to look for her there. He looked down and saw her on the sidewalk below. He told the son to call 911 and he went downstairs to see what had happened.

The victim was rushed to Mariner’s Hospital where she was airlifted to a Miami hospital for treatment of her injuries. As of  this morning, she remains in critical condition and is undergoing surgery for her injuries. Detectives are continuing to investigate the case.

February 11, 2008

Man arrested for armed burglary

Stock Island - A Stock Island man has been arrested and charged with burglarizing a house and stealing a handgun, thus committing armed burglary.

The break in took place February 6th. According to the victim, he returned home at 3 p.m. to find someone had forced the door open to his trailer on Roberta Street. A handgun, jewelry and cash were missing from inside. He told Deputy Kim Trullender the only one who knew where to find the cash, besides he and his wife, was his wife's cousin 21 year old Orestes Ferrer.

The victim called Ferrer and told him he'd been video taped inside the house and he had 15 minutes to return the stolen items or he'd call the police. Ferrer admitted to breaking in and agreed to return the items he stole. A short time later, he drove by in a car and threw the handgun into a boat outside the house. The handgun was recovered from the boat by the owner. he did not, however, return the cash or the jewelry. The victim called the Sheriff's Office to report the incident.

Detective Juan Llera was assigned to investigate. He interviewed Ferrer, who admitted taking the gun, but denied taking the cash or jewelry. He said another man drove him to the house knowing he was going to break in. A warrant was issued for Ferrer's arrest and today (Monday) he turned himself in. He was charged with armed burglary and grand theft and he was booked into jail. Another arrest may be pending in the case.

February 10, 2008

Homestead man charged with burglary of a business

Ramrod Key - An employee of a Ramrod Key restaurant has been charged with stealing a 24 pack of Budweiser beer from his employer after the business closed.

The owner of Boondocks Grill and Drafthouse responded to the restaurant at 4 a.m. Saturday after an alarm went off indicating a break in. He found nothing out of place, so he left. A short time later, he responded to a  second alarm call and found one of his employees, 23 year old Abram Ailon carrying a box of Budweiser out of the business without permission.

Deputies David Brummer and John Underwood arrived on the scene and took Ailon into custody. They charged him with burglary and theft and he was taken to jail.

February 8, 2008

Key Largo man charged with attempted burglary, battery

Key Largo - A Key Largo man is under arrest, charged with battering another man and attempting to break into his house by forcing open the windows.

The victim called the Sheriff's Office at 7:30 p.m. to report the incident. When Deputies Ian Barnett and Richard Bellon arrived, they found the suspect, 34 year old Erik Johnson, standing on the front porch yelling threats at the victim, who was inside, and demanding to be let in. He was detained as the deputies investigated the circumstances.

The victim said he works with Johnson, and another man who was on the scene. He said the two men, who he works with, showed up at his house on Rose Place. They were reportedly angry with him and demanded he give them a work cell phone he had so they could get some phone numbers from it. When he refused, he says Johnson "bumped him in the chest", at which time the victim went inside and locked the door.

When he refused to open the door, he said Johnson began trying to force the windows open. That is when he called the Sheriff's Offfice. Two windows did, indeed, appear to be damaged. Johnson was arrested, charged with battery and attempted burglary and he was taken to jail.

Detectives seek information about stabbing death

Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Division are hoping someone saw something that will help them in their investigations of a stabbing death on Big Pine Key.

On January 31st at 6:30 a.m., Deputies responded to reports of a man's body found in a shack just off of Lucretia Street in the Koehn Subdivision on Big Pine Key. 46 year old Jose Antonio Hernandez was found by his brother, stabbed to death in the shack where he was known to stay while in the Keys. Hernandez lives in Miami with his wife, but spent considerable time on Big Pine Key, where he worked as a fisherman.

Sheriff's Homicide Detective Terry Smith is the lead investigator on the case. An autopsy confirmed stabbing as the cause of death. Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately, or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may receive a significant reward of up to $1,000  if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

February 7, 2008

Meteorite stolen at Winter Star Party

West Summerland Key - A meteorite was reportedly stolen sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning from a display at the Winter Star Party taking place this week on West Summerland Key.

The Star Party is a gathering of amateur astronomers from around the world who gather each year in the Florida Keys. The gathering is hosted by Miami's Southern Cross Astronomical Society. The meteorite, valued at $10,000, was being displayed at the gathering by a vendor from Pennsylvania. He had it in an unlocked display case which he'd covered with a tarp for the night.

The meteorite is described as greenish brown in color with Olivene crystals in it. According to the owner, Olivene crystals are a natural mineral found in the inner core of an asteroid. This particular meteorite weighs 99 grams. One side was cut and the other three sides were not. The cut side was approximately four inches across.

Anyone with information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office or call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and may receive a reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Door to door solicitors

Sheriff's Office dispatchers have received a number of phone call complaints county wide about people going door to door selling magazines.

According to callers, the solicitors are extremely aggressive in their sales tactics. They use sympathetic stories, some claiming to be college students trying to go to school; some saying they are raising money for charity. In many instances, they try to get a resident to let them inside the house, ostensibly in the hopes that once they get in, they'll have more of an opportunity to sell their wares. One girl insisted she had to use the restroom in order to gain access. Fortunately, the homeowner was wise to her tactics, refused and told her where to find a public restroom nearby.

If someone knocks on your door and tries to sell you something, you have the right to refuse them and ask them to leave your property. If they become insistent or refuse to take this as an answer, tell them you are going to call the Sheriff's Office to report them. Under no circumstances should a person ever allow a stranger into their home.

February 5, 2008

Man arrested for burglary, battery

Tavernier - A Tavernier man was arrested Monday, charged with breaking in to a man's house in December and attacking him in an argument over a woman.

33 year old Alfredo Yero broke into a home at the 92.5 mile marker of the highway on December 21st. He forced open the front door, woke the occupant who was sleeping in his bedroom. The two men argued, the victim told Yero to leave and that is when Yero attacked him, grabbing him around the neck. The two men fought, ending up outside the trailer. The suspect finally fled and the victim called the Sheriff's Office.

When Deputy Richard Bellon arrived on the scene, the victim told him Yero had attacked him. He said Yero was upset because Yero's current girlfriend - he victim's ex girlfriend - wanted to get back together with the victim.

Yero was caught after deputies responded to the Tavernier Winn Dixie store to reports of a shoplifter. According to Deputy Robert Dosh, the manager of the store detained Yero after he was caught walking out of the store with a six pack of beer in his hand and a package of ribs and a package of skirt steak down the front of his pants.

Yero was charged with retail theft and with the outstanding warrant for burglary with battery on the occupant. He was booked into the Monroe County jail.

February 4, 2008

Sgt. suspended after parking lot fight

Islamorada - A Sheriff's sergeant is suspended and Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs has opened an investigation into a fight Sunday night between two off duty officers in the parking lot of an upper Keys restaurant and bar.

Sergeant Todd Wyatt had reportedly been drinking and watching the Super bowl at Chilly Willies with a group of friends and was in the process of leaving when another deputy took his keys and told him he shouldn't be driving. An argument ensued in the parking lot between Wyatt and Detective Eric Thomas about the keys, and the argument escalated to a pushing and shoving match. At that point, the fight was reported to the Sheriff's Office and a number of officers responded.

When responding deputies arrived, the fight was over and Thomas was no longer on the scene. Wyatt admitted to having an altercation, but said it was over and "settled". Thomas was located and also questioned. He also said there had been an altercation between them over Wyatt driving, but that it was settled. At that point, another person who had not been drinking drove Wyatt home.

Sgt. Tom Kiffney responded and spoke to a woman on the scene who said her car was scratched during the course of the fight. As he was speaking with her, Wyatt showed up at the scene once again. It is unclear how he got there. According to reports, he appeared agitated. Sgt. Kiffney sent Deputy Patrick Crozier to control Wyatt and to keep him from causing any problems. Deputy David Minor was on the scene and also assisted Deputy Crozier with Wyatt who was again confrontational in his behavior. He was standing beside a truck in the parking lot which belonged to him. He had keys in his hand and resisted the deputies who were attempting to get his keys from him to keep him from driving the truck.

Lt. Tom Brazil arrived on the scene. Wyatt was again driven home. Investigations into the incident are continuing. Wyatt has been suspended until the investigations into the incident are complete.

Two search warrants lead to arrests in Marathon

Marathon - Two search warrants served Friday by the Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Division led to the arrest of four Marathon residents on drug charges.

A search warrant at a trailer on 23rd Street turned up 3.2 ounces of cocaine in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. The search also turned up two pipes used to smoke crack cocaine and $668 in cash.

The resident, 51 year old Maralyn Williams was arrested and charged with trafficking in cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A search warrant at one of the rooms at the Sea Cove Motel led to the arrest of three people after detectives found drug paraphernalia, cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs. 48 year old Alicia Halley was found to have eight crack cocaine rocks, a crack pipe and illegal prescription drugs in her purse. She was charged with possession of cocaine, paraphernalia and a controlled substance. 52 year old Ronald Jenkins was charged with possessing three marijuana cigarettes and drug paraphernalia. 36 year old Bobby Mitchell was charged with possession of marijuana and cocaine.

All suspects were booked into the Monroe County Detention Center. Assisting in the service of the warrants was the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, the Drug Enforcement Administration, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


 Labelled with ICRA