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

May 31, 2008

Dead man's name released

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division say they have notified the family of the man found dead this morning at the Key Haven Boat Ramp.

48 year old James Felix was found lying on an embankment in a mangrove area near the boat ramp at 7 a.m. by a female friend. He was last seen alive Friday night around 10:30 p.m. Detectives say his cause of death is not readily apparent. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

His next of kin, mother and sister, were notified today of his death. They live in Safford, Arizona.

Detectives investigate death

Stock Island - Detectives responded to the Key Haven Boat Ramp on Stock Island this morning to investigate the death of a man.

The victim was found lying in some mangroves on an embankment. The cause of his death is not readily obvious. Detectives say he did suffer from some injuries on his body but until an autopsy is done, they cannot tell whether the injuries were severe enough to be the cause of his death. They also say it is unclear whether someone else killed him, or if he was the victim of an accident.

The victim is a 48 year old man whose last known address is on Geiger Key. He was found by a female friend who called Sheriff's dispatchers just before 7 a.m. She said she last saw him at around 10:30 p.m. Friday when they walked together to the Shell gas station and convenience store across the street from the boat ramp.

Although the body was found in close proximity to several campsites in the area, no one detectives questioned said they heard anything in regards to the death. The victim's identity is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin.

Marathon man arrested for burglary

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested Friday afternoon, charged with breaking in to a home on Yellowtail Drive and stealing drugs.

The victim called the Sheriff's Office at 3:45 p.m. Friday. Deputy Marc Maison responded and found entry to the home had been made through a rear sliding glass door. A hasp lock on the door had been broken to facilitate entry.

The victim said the only thing missing was his medication, which was in a pill organizer. He told the deputy he believed the person responsible was 49 year old Brent Duffy.

Duffy was found sitting on the ground behind the Burger King restaurant. Next to him, on the ground, was the pill organizer with some of the pills remaining. Duffy was charged with burglary, theft, criminal mischief and possession of a controlled substance. He was booked into jail.

Key Largo man charged with child pornography

Key Largo - A video tape found during the course of a search warrant served in April led to charges of possessing child pornography.

The search warrant, served by detectives with the Special Operations Division, was for drugs. During the course of the search they found a video camera. The tape in the camera depicted 24 year old Ryan Steele having sexual relations with a young girl. Steele told the detectives the girl was his ex-girlfriend. He said they began having sexual relations when she was 16, but she may have been 17 when the tape was made.

The girl was interviewed and told detectives the sexual acts between she and Steele were consensual and they were dating at the time.

Steele was arrested on an outstanding warrant May 28th, charged with possessing obscene material, particularly photographs of a sexual performance by a child. He was booked into jail.

May 29, 2008

Woman charged with stealing two boat propellers

Stock Island - A Stock Island woman was arrested Thursday on cocaine charges. She was also charged with stealing two boat propellers from a Stock Island boat yard.

The boat propellers were stolen the night of May 22nd after the owner of the boatyard, located on 5th Avenue, locked up and left. He told Deputy David Smith when he left, the props were still on the boat. When he returned to work the next morning they were gone.

In the meantime, Deputy Evan Calhoun was on patrol the night of the 22nd and saw 29 year old Carla Pavon riding her bike in the vicinity of Sea Lobster on Stock Island, which is in close vicinity to the boat yard where the props were stolen.. He stopped her, arresting her for trespassing. She has been trespass warned previously for the property. In the basket of her bike the deputy noticed two boat propellers which he seized for further investigation.

The propellers were identified using their serial numbers as the two stolen from the boat yard. On May 28th, Pavon was picked up on an outstanding warrant for Sale of Cocaine. She was questioned about the propellers and admitted to stealing them. She said her boyfriend told her to take the propellers. She was further charged with burglary and theft. She was booked into jail.

May 28, 2008

Marine Service Business Owner arrested with stolen boat motor

Key Largo - For the second time in a week, the owner of a Marine Services business was caught with stolen marine related property by the Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's detectives received information that 26 year old John Strama, the owner of the Marathon based Strama Marine Services, was in possession of a stolen boat motor. The information led to a notice to be on the lookout for Strama, who was reported to be northbound in his work truck, pulling an 18 foot vessel with the stolen 115 hp engine on the back.

Detective Sgt. David Carey spotted the truck stopped at the 98.6 mile marker of the highway. Strama was in the boat, removing the cowling of the engine. When confronted by Sgt. Carey, Strama spontaneously said, "I knew I shouldn't have bought that engine from those Cubans."

Further investigation revealed the serial number had been removed. Strama told the officer he "knew there was something wrong with it since he only paid $2,000.00 for it." A hidden serial number was found, however, and when checked, the engine turned out to be stolen from Collier County in December of 2004. He said the vessel he was putting the engine on belonged to a Marathon resident. He said he was going to charge the boat's owner $2,500 for it. He said he bought the engine from two Hispanic people he does not know at a gas station.

Strama was arrested. He was charged with dealing in stolen property. A search of his truck turned up a plastic bag of cocaine. He was further charged with possession of the illegal drug and he was booked into jail.

On May 22nd, the owner of Liddy's Marine Service in Marathon, John Liddy, was arrested after he was caught stealing the lower unit from a boat at a Marathon boat yard.

"These arrests are significant because we have so many marine related thefts in the Keys," said Sheriff Rick Roth. "It is bad enough to deal with people coming from out of town to steal boats, motors and fishing equipment. But here we have the owners of two local Marine Services companies committing these types of crimes. Our officers did a terrific job of catching these guys in the act," he said.

May 27, 2008

North Carolina man identified

Plantation Key - Detectives say they have notified family members of the North Carolina man who died offshore of Plantation Key Monday .

The victim is identified as 57 year old Robert Frazier of Gastonia, North Carolina.

He was visiting the Keys with friends who were snorkeling with him on board a commercial dive vessel out of Florida Keys Dive Center. Snorkelers from the vessel were at Little Conch Reef at 2 p.m. Monday when the victim signaled to an employee on the boat that he was having trouble.

The employee jumped in the water to assist. The victim was brought into the boat. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed until the boat reached shore and the victim was transferred to an ambulance. He was pronounced dead on the way to Mariner's Hospital.

May 26, 2008

Snorkeling death off the upper Keys

A North Carolina man is dead today. He died after having trouble while snorkeling off shore of Plantation Key.

The 57 year old man, whose name is being withheld until his family can be notified, is from Gastonia, North Carolina. He was visiting the Keys with friends who were snorkeling with him on board the commercial dive vessel out of Florida Keys Dive Center. Snorkels from the vessel were at Little Conch Reef at 2 p.m. today when the victim signaled to an employee on the boat that he was having trouble.

The employee jumped in the water to assist. The victim was brought into the boat. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed until the boat reached shore and the victim was transferred to an ambulance. He was pronounced dead on the way to Mariner's Hospital. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

Accident wrap up

There were a number of accidents with injuries over the holiday weekend. Unless otherwise noted, road block was either minimal (less than an hour) or non-existent:

Burglary to occupied Marathon residence

Marathon - A burglar entered an occupied Marathon home on 24th Street in the early morning hours today (Monday) after the owner left his door open while he slept.

The victim told Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes he woke up about 2:10 a.m.when his dog started barking. He went out into his kitchen just in time to see a man running out the door. He just caught a glimpse of the man, who he said was young, possibly a Hispanic or Black, with short dark hair, possibly five foot eleven inches tall and approximately 140 pounds.

The victim said he left his door cracked open when he went to sleep, and it was through that door that the suspect apparently entered. A search of the area did not turn up any potential suspects. A purse stolen from the residence was found discarded a short distance away. Detectives will be investigating.

The Sheriff's Office would once again like to remind everyone that these types of crimes are easy to prevent. Most burglaries of homes and cars are crimes of opportunity where the victims leave doors or windows open, and leave valuables where they are easily accessible. Anyone with information about this or any crime should call the Sheriff's Office immediately or Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and if their information leads to an arrest in a felony crime, they are eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Two arrested for reckless driving

Two people were arrested in the upper Keys over the weekend in separate cases of reckless driving.

Deputy Keith Albert arrested a Miami Lakes man Sunday in the early morning hours. The deputy was northbound at the 86 mile marker when he saw the Honda pass another vehicle recklessly at a high rate of speed. He attempted to catch up to the vehicle, which was traveling approximately 90 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. He followed the vehicle, waiting for back up officers to arrive and saw it swerving dangerously, passing vehicles as it sped north. Back up officers were located at the 94 mile marker and, at that location Deputy Albert turned on his lights and siren in an attempt to stop the car. The car, driven by 21 year old Reynaldo Munoz stopped at the 96 mile marker. Munoz was intoxicated and a check of his record revealed three prior DUI arrests, including one he was still on probation for. Munoz was charged with reckless driving, fleeing and eluding police, driving with his license revoked and driving under the influence of alcohol.

On Sunday afternoon, at 5:50 p.m. dispatchers began receiving phone calls about a red BMW sedan traveling northbound at the 97 mile marker, weaving dangerously in and out of traffic. Deputy Richard Bellon saw the car and pulled in behind it at the 99.5 mile marker. He saw the car narrowly miss several vehicles as it swerved around them, and abruptly change lanes several times. After he turned on his lights and siren, the car sped up and continued it's dangerous northbound progression, refusing to stop. The driver finally stopped at the 101 mile marker of the highway.

24 year old Maryanne Rodriguez of Miami was the driver. After she exited the car, she made a number of strange comments, saying she never has to stop for police in Miami and several other things incomprehensible to the deputies on the scene. She was arrested and charged with fleeing and eluding police and reckless driving and she was booked into jail.

May 25, 2008

Search warrant leads to arrest for marijuana

Marathon - A search warrant, served at a Marathon residence, led to the arrest of a man for possessing a large amount of marijuana Friday.

Detectives from the Sheriff's Special Investigations Division arrested 55 year old Perry Alexander Friday afternoon after serving a search warrant at his home on Paradise Place, Grassy Key.

In the home, a search turned up 7 separate plastic bags containing a total of 177 grams of marijuana with a street value of approximately $1,800.00. Numerous items of drug paraphernalia were also found scattered throughout the house. Alexander was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and he was booked into jail.

Marathon man charged with robbing, beating another man

Marathon - A Marathon man was arrested early today (Sunday), charged with beating and robbing another man. More arrests may be pending.

The 25 year old victim called the Sheriff's Office just after midnight to report being beaten and robbed by several people. He said he'd gotten a phone call from his ex-girlfriend telling him to go to an alley near the Brass Monkey Lounge. When he got there, three men jumped him and beat him up while a voice he recognized as his ex-girlfriend's exhorted them to beat him up over the speaker of a cell phone. He was able to give deputies the names of two suspects, and the nickname of the third.

The men hit him, kicked him and stole his cash, then fled the area. Deputies Bradford Colen, Sidney Whitehouse and Ken Fricki arrived on the scene. They found suspect Marvin Bryant nearby. He fit the description given by the victim of one of his attackers. Bryant initially gave the deputies false names, but eventually gave his true identity, which was confirmed with his driver's license. The victim identified Bryant as one of his attackers. Bryant was arrested, charged with battery, robbery and resisting arrest and he was booked into jail. More arrests may be pending in the case.

May 23, 2008

Marathon man arrested for taking lower unit

Marathon - A Marathon man, caught taking the lower unit from a boat motor, was arrested Thursday night.

An alert citizen called the Sheriff's Office just before 10 p.m. to report seeing a man in the boatyard at Keys Boat Works on 39th Street. He said he didn't think anyone should be there that late. The owner of the boat yard concurred and said no one should be there.

Deputies arrived and found 40 year old John Liddy working on a boat motor. He had the lower unit from the motor removed and had placed it in the back of his van. He told the deputies he was doing work for the owner of the boat. The out of town owner was contacted, as was a caretaker who watches the boat for him. Both men said Liddy had no business working on the boat.

Liddy, who owns Liddy's Mobile Marine Service, was arrested, charged with burglary and theft and he was booked into jail. His van and tools were seized.

May 22, 2008

Three businesses report damage to phone lines

Marathon - Three businesses in Marathon opened Wednesday to find their phone lines ripped out of the phone boxes.

The Cracked Conch Restaurant on 49th Street opened and owners found the back doors pried open. Electrical breakers had been turned off and the phone lines ripped out; nothing is believed to have been taken from inside. Mama Joe's Cycles and Stuff on 35th Street opened up to find the outside phone lines torn out, as did Fairway Market on 38th Street.

Detectives will be investigating. Anyone with information should contact Sheriff's detectives at 289-2430. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

May 21, 2008

Crime Stoppers offers $5,000 reward for information about murder suspects

Monroe County - Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys is offering an increased reward amount to anyone who has information which leads to an arrest in two recent murders in Monroe County.

If a tipster's information leads to an arrest in either case, the caller will be eligible for a $5,000.00 reward.

The first murder victim, 59 year old Michael Stanier, was found dead the afternoon of March 31st  at the Key Haven boat ramp. The autopsy showed Stanier died of severe head trauma. 

The second murder victim was 48 year old Beth Neumeier of Marathon. She was found May 4th, dead in a pile of debris in the yard of a residence on 24th Street in Marathon.

Detectives are not releasing specific information about these murders because they say it helps them to weed out false information given by tipsters. If details are not commonly known, then only certain people will know the truth about the circumstances of the crimes. They have received many tips from many different sources in these cases and have been able to rule out people as witnesses and as possible suspects by the caliber of the information given to them.

Anyone with information about either of these murder cases should contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers may remain anonymous and will be eligible for a $5,000.00 reward if the information leads to an arrest in either case. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS.

May 20, 2008

Stock Island man charged with four vehicle burglaries

Stock Island - A Stock Island man caught on surveillance video breaking in to a car on Stock Island has been charged with four vehicle burglaries so far.

29 year old Anthony Phillips is in jail charged with a burglary committed May 12th on Miriam Street; with two burglaries on May 16th on Roberta Street and one on May 18th on Third Street. He faces four counts of burglary and four of theft. More charges may be pending.

He was caught after one victim turned in a surveillance video to Sheriff's detectives which showed Phillips entering his car. Other evidence ties him to the burglaries as well, including a flashlight he stole during one burglary which was found after he accidentally left it in another burglarized car. The flashlight was identified because the owner had engraved his initials on it.

May 19, 2008

Caretaker takes advantage of elderly charge

Big Pine Key- A woman who says she is a  "good Christian" who would not hurt the elderly man she cares for, was arrested Saturday for using his money to buy herself makeup, jewelry and clothing.

54 year old Felicia Sheppard told Detective Diane Mimosa she began looking after the 86 year old victim after she heard in church he needed help because people were taking advantage of him. The Sheriff's Office was notified of a possible problem by the victim's bank, after they noticed checks written out and signed with his name, but the signature did not appear to be his. Investigations revealed his checking account had been drained completely, and his savings account, which had a significant balance as of December of 2007, had very little left in it.

Further investigations revealed Sheppard had, on some occasions, had the victim sign checks over to her; on other occasions, she wrote the checks out herself. With the money, she purchased women's jewelry, makeup, women's clothing and other items which clearly could only have been used for herself and were not for the benefit of the victim. On one occasion, she wrote a check to K-Mart for two rugs and a flat screen television. Detective Mimosa found the 48 inch flat screen television in Sheppard's room at the victim's house, while the victim was watching an old 19" television.

When asked about the checks, the victim has trouble remembering which ones he authorized and which ones he did not. The suspect denied signing any checks, but when confronted with the signatures which were obviously not the victim's, she then admitted to signing the checks. She told the detective the victim would sometimes buy her things and sometimes buy her parents some things, which they would later reimburse him for. When confronted with the fact that there were no such deposits in the victim's bank account, she said she spent the money.

Sheppard was charged with exploitation of an elderly person and she was booked into jail.

Adults involvement in teen dispute results in child abuse charges

Stock Island - A dispute between two 13 year old boys led to one boy being battered by two adults. The adults were arrested on child abuse charges.

When Deputy Vicki Fleck arrived on Cross Street on Stock Island, she found a large crowd gathered between 8th and 9th Avenues. Two women were screaming at each other in Spanish, and the deputy attempted to calm the situation and find out what happened. One of the women,***name expunged***, refused to listen to the deputy's instructions to calm down. After she pushed the deputy out of the way to continue her confrontation, she was arrested and placed in a patrol car. At that point, the girl's mother, 42 year old Aleyda Arce, ran up and began yelling at the deputy and pulling at her arm. Just then, back up deputies arrived to assist.

Once the crowd was sorted out, they found out the following had occurred: two 13 year old boys were having a dispute over a chicken, which had been ongoing for several weeks. The dispute escalated Saturday and the two boys fought. ***name expunged***, the sister of one of the boys and Arce, her mother,  became involved and also began hitting the 13 year old victim. A neighbor saw what was happening and came out to intervene. ***name expunged*** began yelling at the neighbor, which attracted a large crowd from the neighborhood; that is when Deputy Fleck arrived on the scene.

***name expunged*** and Arce were both arrested. ***name expunged*** was charged with child abuse and battery on a law enforcement officer. Arce was charged with resisting arrest and child abuse. They were both booked into jail.

May 13, 2008

Teen arrested for shooting at car

Islamorada - An Islamorada teen was arrested Monday evening, charged with shooting an airsoft gun at a car with two people inside.

The 54 year old victim called the Sheriff's Office at 8 p.m. to report someone shooting at him as he drove on highway U.S. One at the 90 mile marker. He told Deputy Yunier Galvez the older model SUV had been following him since the 74 mile marker, tailgating him. He said at one point, the vehicle passed him on the right shoulder then slowed down in front of him. He said he in turn passed the SUV because it was going slower than the speed limit. He said when he got to the four lane at the 90 mile marker, the SUV pulled beside him and he heard shots from the other car. That is when he called the Sheriff's Office.

The victim followed the SUV as it pulled off the highway. They ended up on the old highway at the 88 mile marker when deputies intercepted them. Investigation revealed three boys inside, an 18 year old, a 16 year old and a 15 year old. Upon questioning, the 15 year old - Alvin Griffith - admitted to being the one who shot at the other car. In the car, deputies found four airsoft guns - two handguns and two rifles.

The victim's car had four indentations on one of it's rear panels indicating it had been shot at with the pellet guns.

Griffith was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and criminal mischief. He was booked at the Monroe County jail.

May 12, 2008

Stock Island man charged with cocaine

Stock Island - A Stock Island man faces cocaine charges after a deputy saw him trying to discard crack cocaine over a fence.

Deputy David Cruz was on patrol on 5th Avenue at noon when he spotted three people standing around a table. As he got out of his patrol car, Deputy Cruz saw 78 year old Rigoberto Hernandez walk over to a nearby fence and throw what looked like pieces of white rock over the fence. Further investigation of that area turned up five white colored rocks on the ground, four white colored rocks wrapped in foil and a pill bottle with 18 white colored rocks inside.

Hernandez was arrested. Powdered cocaine was found in his pocket, wrapped in foil. He also had $605 in cash. He was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to sell and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.

May 7, 2008

Man arrested for knife threats

Key Largo - A Key Largo man was arrested for threatening another man with a knife Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Deputies responded to Bayview Drive to reports of one man threatening another with a knife. When they arrived, they found the victim restraining the suspect. The victim and other witnesses told Deputy Richard Bellon they were outside their homes when they heard someone being loud, obscene and belligerant. The victim approached 42 year old Mason Machesney and asked him to calm down. Machesney became even more agitated and pulled a pocket knife out of his pocket, threatening to kill the victim and his family.

The victim then grabbed Machesney around the shoulders, pinning his arms at his sides. He took the knife away from him and gave it to one of the witnesses. That's when deputies arrived on the scene.

Machesney was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

May 6, 2008

Murdered woman identified

Marathon - Detectives have notified the family of the woman killed in Marathon Sunday and are ready to release her name to the public.

The murdered victim is identified as 48 year old Beth Neumeier of Marathon. She was found dead in a pile of debris in the yard of a residence on 24th Street Sunday morning. Her sister who lives in Ohio was contacted and notified of her death.

Anyone who has information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Crime Stoppers tipsters are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest in the case. The Crime Stoppers hot line  is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Big Pine Key man arrested for stealing a tire

Stock Island - A Big Pine Key man was caught after taking a tire off of a trailer in order to replace a flat tire on his vehicle.

A witness saw 37 year old Sean Sexton and another man remove a tire from a trailer parked in the parking lot of the Hurricane Home Marina on Stock Island just after midnight today (Tuesday). He called the Sheriff's Office and Sgt. Tom Walker spotted the white van as it traveled southbound on the highway from Hurricane Hole toward the Cow Key Channel Bridge. The officer followed the van, turning on his lights and siren, but it refused to stop until it turned into the parking lot of a resort a short distance away. The van pulled up to a maroon car that had two flat tires and was supported by a jack.

Sgt. Walker was backed up by Key West Police Officers. When the officers confronted Sexton about the theft of the tire, he said he had permission to take the tire. The owner of the tire denied giving him such permission. The other man with Sexton said he was just helping him out and didn't know he was stealing the tire.

Sexton was arrested. A pipe was found in one of his pockets with cocaine residue inside. He was charged with burglary of a conveyance and possession of drug paraphernalia and he was taken to jail.

Reckless driver arrested; also charged with drug possession

Big Coppitt Key - A Summerland Key man was arrested Monday evening for reckless driving and possession of a large amount of Xanax.

Deputy Evan Calhoun was southbound at the 12 mile marker at 7:30 p.m. when he spotted a blue 2006 Honda convertible speeding northbound. The car forced two other vehicles to pull over onto the shoulder. Deputy Calhoun used his radar to clock the car at 102 miles per hour.

The deputy turned around in an effort to stop the car. As he caught up to it with his lights and siren activated, he saw the car force three more cars to pull over. The Honda, driven by 24 year old Norman Ritchie of Summerland Key, stopped at the 13 mile marker of the highway.

Ritchie said he was speeding because he was in a hurry to get home from work. He was arrested for reckless driving. Prior to doing an inventory search of the vehicle for the purpose of towing it, Deputy Calhoun asked if Ritchie had any illegal substances in the car. Ritchie admitted to having illegal pills under the passenger seat. He said he got the pills from an unknown male in Key West and was taking them to a friend of his. Deputy Calhoun found a pill bottle with 63 Xanax pills inside. He also found another small bottle with white powder which Ritchie said was powdered Xanax.

Ritchie was additionally charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. He was booked into the Monroe County Detention Center.

May 5, 2008

Autopsy confirms foul play in woman’s death

Marathon – Sheriff’s Homicide detectives say an autopsy today confirmed  a woman found dead in a pile of debris in the yard of a Marathon residence on 24th Street Sunday was murdered.

Detectives still would not release details of her injuries or how they believe she was killed. They say they need to keep those details to themselves for now in order to filter the information and leads coming in to them.

They do say they have a tentative identification of her and have taken her fingerprints in an effort to confirm her identity. They said they believe she is a 48 year old Marathon woman who has been arrested in the past on narcotics charges. Once her fingerprints have confirmed who she is, and her next of kin have been notified, her identity will be released.

In the meantime, detectives say anyone who has information about this case should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Crime Stoppers tipsters are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest in the case. The Crime Stoppers hot line  is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Assault with a gun at an Islamorada bar

Islamorada - A West Palm Beach man was arrested Sunday evening after a fight in the parking lot of an Islamorada bar.

According to employees of the Hog Heaven Sports Bar, they called the victim just before 7 p.m. and asked him to come to the bar to pick up a woman who was intoxicated. When 35 year old Jeremy Stigler arrived, the woman was getting ready to leave with three men who were riding motorcycles. Stigler yelled for her to come with him. She refused. He got out of his truck and a fight began with the three other men.

Witnesses agree that sometime before or during the fight 53 year old John Gibson pulled out a handgun and held it to Stigler's head threatening to shoot him. When deputies arrived, they found Stigler with a bloody nose. He was treated by paramedics. The gun in question was found in Gibson's possession. He was placed under arrest for aggravated assault with a firearm.

Stories vary about who was the aggressor in starting the fight. The other parties involved were referred to the State Attorney's Office for additional charges.

May 4, 2008

Foul play suspected in woman's death

Marathon - Detectives from the Sheriff's Office Homicide Division say they do suspect foul play in the death of a woman found this morning near 24th Street in Marathon.

While the detectives are keeping details to themselves, they say the woman was found under a pile of debris in the yard of a residence. The homeowner found her as he was going outside to work in his yard at 9 a.m. and he called the Sheriff's Office. Detectives say she may have been dead since Friday or Saturday. An autopsy is scheduled tomorrow to determine the cause of her death. Detectives would not comment on her injuries or how they believe she may have been killed.

The victim has yet to be identified, but she is described as between 25 and 35 years of age, a white female with light brown or sandy blonde shoulder length hair. She is approximately 5' 8" tall with a medium build. Detectives would not say what she was wearing when her body was found.

Anyone who thinks they know who she is, or who has information about her death should contact the Sheriff's Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If the information leads to an arrest, the Crime Stoppers tipster will be eligible for a significant cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line is 1-800-346-TIPS.

Homeless man  beaten over pot of soup

Key Largo - One homeless man was taken to the hospital and another to jail after a fight over a pot of soup Friday night.

Deputies responded to a gas station at the 99.6 mile marker of the highway where they met with the victim. He said a man had attacked him in a nearby wooded area, punching him in the face and ribs over a pot of soup that was cooking on a portable stove. He said he fell to the ground and the man, whom he only knew as "Lee", then kicked him repeatedly.

Deputies Darnell Durham and Lance Hernandez went to the location described by the victim and found a homeless camp with tents and beds. There was a portable stove with a pot of soup that was still warm. There were blood drops on the lid of the pot. No one was at the camp, but they found a man named Lee Baker, 42 years of age, walking nearby on East Drive. He had blood on his hands. He admitted to hitting the victim over the pot of soup. He said he and some friends had pooled their money and bought supplies to make the soup. He said the victim stole it from them.

Baker was arrested and charged with aggravated battery. The victim was taken to Mariner's Hospital where doctors said he suffered a broken bone in his face. Baker was booked into jail.

Two arrested for stealing truck and trailer

Islamorada - Two men are under arrest, charged with stealing a truck and boat trailer from a boat ramp in Islamorada.

The victim told deputies and detectives he put his boat in the water at 7 a.m. Friday, parking his truck and trailer at the boat ramp at Indian Key Fill at the 78 mile marker. When he returned at 10 p.m., the truck and trailer were gone. He called the Sheriff's Office to report the crime.

He temporarily stored his boat at Holiday Isle. The following morning, the victim was driving to Holiday Isle when he saw his truck without the trailer. It was on a gravel service road near Whale Harbor Channel. He confirmed visually that it was his truck, a 1994 green Chevrolet, backed off and called the Sheriff's Office.

When Deputy Paul Kupke arrived, he saw two men with the truck. He took them into custody and began investigating the circumstances. Another license tag had been put on it; the "Chevrolet" on the back had been painted over with black paint; the tag's decal had also been altered; the truck had been hot-wired and was running without a key in the ignition. A notebook was found inside with a list of boats and trailers and their locations and descriptions indicating the men may have planned to commit other crimes.

Inside the truck, detectives also found a large knife and a gun belonging to the victim; they also found bolt cutters, a cordless sawzall, screw drivers, all of which belonged to the suspects and are commonly used as burglary tools.

One of the men, 26 year old Oscar Gonzalez of Homestead, gave a false name at first. At the Detention Center, when they took his live-scan fingerprints, they revealed his true identity. The other man was identified as 38 year old Alexis Portal of Florida City. Both men were charged with burglary, theft of a firearm, two counts of vehicle theft and Gonzalez was charged with resisting arrest. They were booked into jail. The boat trailer, a 2004 Shorelander, has not yet been recovered.

Key Largo man charged with theft of boat motors

Key Largo - A Key Largo man has been charged with the theft of three boat motors from a Key Largo residence.

On March 28th, deputies responded to a house on Plante Street. The owners weren't there, but a caretaker reported two Yamaha 225 horsepower four stroke engines and a 9.9 horsepower Evinrude engine stolen from two boats on the property. A neighbor said he'd seen two men on a scooter who had appeared to be "scoping out" the boats and engines.

Deputy Francisco Gaete recognized the description of the scooter as belonging to someone living at 245 Lee Avenue. He went to the residence and, during the course of investigation here, he found one of the stolen motors - the small Evinrude.

After extensive investigation into the circumstances of the motor being located at that residence, Detective Jason Madnick obtained an arrest warrant for the man who lives there. 38 year old Eliseo Perez Vazquez was arrested Friday, charged with burglary to a conveyance and grand theft and he was booked into jail. The investigation is continuing and the two Yamaha engines have not yet been recovered.


May 1, 2008

Sheriff’s Office participates in state-wide operation aimed at marijuana growing operations

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office took part in a state wide effort Wednesday aimed at eradicating marijuana growing operations. Called “Operation D-Day”, the coordinated effort involved 45 of 67 Florida counties, as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutorial entities. Its purpose was to let people know the cultivation of marijuana will not be tolerated in the state.

Sheriff’s detectives arrested two Key Largo men for cultivation of Marijuana Wednesday. They first knocked on the door at 921 Plantation Road  at 11:30 a.m. and talked with the woman who lived there. When she invited them inside, they said they could smell the odor of marijuana. She admitted there was some of the substance in the house and said it was her husband’s. She opened up a small wooden box which had marijuana and paraphernalia inside. She then took them to the back yard where her husband, 56 year old Roger Drouin, was. He admitted to them that he grows marijauan for his own use. He took them back inside and showed them five plants in his bathroom, along with grow lights, a filtration system and plant food. He turned over a total of 118 grams  of marijuana to them, along with the five plants and the growing apparatus. He was arrested for cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

At 1:20 p.m., the detectives went to 53 Tarpon Basin Drive and spoke to 24 year old Ryan Steele. When they asked Steele for permission to search his house he consented. Steele led the detectives to a shed in the back yard, removed a combination lock and revealed an indoor marijuana growing operation. He had an indoor lighting system, wall insulation and other growing equipment. There were 90 marijuana plants growing inside. The plants were confiscated and Steele was arrested and charged with cultivation of marijuana.

State wide, law enforcement agencies located 152 grow houses, made 135 arrests and confiscated 9,249 marijuana plants valued at an estimated $41,620,500.00.

Three arrested after search warrant

Stock Island - Detectives from the Special Operations Division arrested three men after serving a search warrant at a Stock Island residence Wednesday evening.

The warrant was served at 8 p.m. at C-43 10th Avenue. Inside, detectives found crack cocaine in several different places. A total of 47 crack rocks were recovered, along with various items of drug paraphernalia. 62 year old Jose Garcia was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to deliver; 67 year old Maurelio Gonzalez was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to deliver; 55 year old Ricardo Garcia was charged with possession with intent to deliver and with two outstanding warrants from Hillsborough County on drug related charges.


 Labelled with ICRA