March 29, 2010

Law Enforcement Torch Run April 9th

Monroe County - Representatives from various local law enforcement agencies will be taking part April 9th in the 2010 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office in cooperation with the Monroe County Special Olympics Committee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Key West Police Department, the US Navy, US Coast Guard and the Florida Wildlife Commission invites members of the public to join local law enforcement in running in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run which will start at 8:30 a.m. on April 9th.

The Key West leg will begin at the Florida Keys Community College Public Safety Bldg on Stock Island with a brief stop at Gerald Adams Elementary School. Participants will then drive their vehicles to Publix on N. Roosevelt Boulevard. Publix is a major contributor to the Special Olympics, raising millions of dollars each year. Then off to Poinciana School, Key West High School, HOB School and Glenn Archer School. An exchange of the torch from the Sheriff’s Office to the Key West Police Department will take place at the Southernmost Point where Colonel Rick Ramsay will be handing off to Chief Donie Lee. There will be water stops at all the schools and the run pace will be slow (no faster than 10 minute miles). Runners can run any leg they choose. Support vehicles will accompany the runners. The cost of participation is $12.00 and all runners will receive an event t-shirt.

Those wishing to participate may register for the run by contacting either Jim Painter at (305) 292-7027 / email or Special Agent Jeff Hutcheon at (305) 292-7022 / email or Jo Socha at (305) 292-7042 / email .

The torch will travel across the state, carried by Law Enforcement personnel. For more information on the representing agencies go to:

Please come join us in this special event.

If you can't join the run, please come out and cheer the runners on for a good cause.

Note: in the past, parents have become concerned because they have received reports about fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency service vehicles present at the schools along the Torch Run route. These vehicles accompany the runners for visibility and so kids can see them and should in no way cause concern by their presence at the schools.

March 23, 2010

Detectives investigate burglaries

Islamorada - Sheriff's detectives are investigating a series of burglaries that have taken place at various Islamorada resort properties over the past nine months.
The unusual aspect of these burglaries are that they've all been committed while the rooms have been occupied. Fourteen rooms at six different resorts have been entered while the occupants slept. Most of the entries were made through unlocked doors, many of them rear sliding glass doors. Suspects stole wallets, purses, briefcases, cameras, cell phones, cash and credit cards. In one case, the victims woke when they heard change hit the floor. They saw a suspect wearing a dark colored "hoodie" sweatshirt flee out the door taking their belongings with him. In another case, a victim woke up when the phone rang. She saw a man in her room who fled at the sound of the phone.

Six of the burglaries took place between July and December of 2009, with eight taking place in the past two months. Detectives say whoever is committing these crimes is stepping up the pace recently, with burglaries taking place on February 27th at Caribbean Resorts, March 8th at the Kon Tiki resort, on March 12th at Maison Matecumbe, on the 13th at the Pines and Palms resort and on the 22nd at the Moorings.

According to investigators, most of the burglaries could have been prevented if victims had locked doors and windows before going to sleep at night. They would like to remind everyone living in the Keys and visiting the Keys to lock doors and windows when leaving their home, or their hotel rooms and when going to sleep for the night. Simple preventative measures such as these can prevent most crimes from taking place.

The burglaries are under investigation. Captain Don Fanelli, who heads up the Sheriff's Office Islamorada District, says he is not at liberty to say specifically what measures are being taken to solve these crimes.

"But I can tell you," Captain Fanelli said, "that we are doing everything we can to track down the perpetrators. We take all crime very seriously, but burglary of an occupied home or hotel room is serious business and we are working hard to make sure we stop whoever is committing these crimes."

Anyone with information about these crimes should call the Sheriff's Office. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a substantial cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at

Brother, sister arrested for burglary

Lower Matecumbe - A brother and sister from Miami were arrested after they were found sleeping in an unoccupied house in Lower Matecumbe Key Monday night.

Deputies responded to reports of suspicious activity at a house on Columbus Drive at 9:45 p.m. They found 41 year old Donna and 44 year old Kenneth DeMatteis lying in bed, watching television in an apartment on the property. They said they had permission from the owner of the property to be there.

Deputies contacted the owner who said she is familiar with the two, who own a mobile car wash and who she has hired to wash her cars in the past. She said she never gave them permission to stay there, however.

Both suspects were arrested and charged with burglary and theft. They were booked into jail.

March 22, 2010

Easter at the Animal Farm - March 28th

On Sunday, March 14th, bring the family and visit the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm.

Make sure you mark your calendars now for the annual Easter on the Farm event. This year it will be held on Sunday, March 28th, from 1pm to 3pm. There will be an egg hunt for the children, face painting, coloring, music by the HOB band, the Masonic Lodge Child ID program, and the Easter bunny will stop by for photos. This year, we have a professional photographer who is donating his services for the event.

The farm is a terrific family activity that is FREE OF CHARGE. Donations are, of course, greatly appreciated because they help keep the animal’s habitats in good repair and help pay for food and upkeep at the farm.

The farm has about 250 animals of all kinds and is truly a wonderful place for children and adults alike. The farm is open second and fourth Sundays of every month. Groups may schedule special trips by contacting Farmer Selander at 305-293-7300. The farm is located underneath the Monroe County Detention Center, off of College Road on Stock Island.

Everyone is welcome to attend! This event is free of charge, and donations are appreciated!

March 19, 2010

Drug arrests in Islamorada

Islamorada - Sheriff’s Special Investigations Detectives arrested four people on drug charges Thursday. The four are accused of selling cocaine, marijuana ecstasy and prescription medication.

Detectives made undercover purchases of the illegal substances over a period of time. Warrants were then served Thursday and the following people were arrested:

Rafael Alfonso Duarte, 19, of Homestead was charged with two counts of Sale of cocaine.
Dianne Lynn Budd, 40, of Islamorada was charged with sale of prescription medication.

Kendrick Dee Cade, 24, of Florida City was charged with sale of ecstasy.

Wilkins Germain, 20, of Florida City was charged with sale of cocaine, sale of marijuana, 2 violation of probation.

March 17, 2010

Girl donates Teddy Bears

Claire Young, 13 years of age, donated bears to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office as part of her Bat Mitzvah project. The project is doing good deeds in her community, and Claire’s idea is to share her love of Teddy Bears with Children in Crisis. The bears will be given to children who have been involved in traffic accidents, domestic violence situations and other traumatic events. Claire is a 7th grader and attends H.O.B. Middle School. She had her Bat Mitzvah February 6th at Congregation B’nai Zion in Key West.

Directed Traffic Patrol

On March 11th the Sheriff's Office Traffic Unit conducted a Saturated Patrol from the 5 to 9 mm with primary enforcement of the “Move Over law”. Officers made 69 traffic contacts, including 28 move over law citations, 31 other citations, seven seatbelts citations, seven other warnings. This section of District One regularly has the highest number of traffic crashes during the hours of this detail .With the heavy presence and enforcement, this area did not have any crashes during the detail.

March 14, 2010

Fire destroys Key Largo restaurant

A fire destroyed Snook’s Bayside Restaurant in the early morning hours today.

Firefighters and deputies are still on the scene this morning at the 99.4 mile marker of Highway U.S. One. The fire was reported at 4:30 a.m. Southbound traffic was halted as firefighters ran fire hoses across the highway. Traffic was impacted until about 7:15 a.m. as firefighting efforts continued.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined. The State Fire Marshall’s Office is en route to the scene and will be investigating.

March 13, 2010

Trailer burns on Big Pine Key

A vacant trailer on Big Pine Key was destroyed by fire today.

Callers reported the fire to Sheriff’s dispatchers at 3:45 p.m. Firefighters had the fire under control within 15 minutes of the reports. It is unknown what may have caused the blaze.

Dive death, Key Largo

A Tallahassee woman died while diving offshore of Key Largo Friday.

51 year old Carol Strickland was on board the commercial dive vessel Mr. Tropical Adventure from Rainbow Reef Dive Center in Key Largo. The boat was moored at French Reef and she and her friend surfaced from a dive at about 2:40 p.m. and signaled to the boat they were okay. They both began to swim back to the boat, but Strickland began having trouble.

A mate from the boat swam out to meet her. She was reportedly unresponsive. She was pulled onto the boat, which began returning to shore. Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation was performed until the boat met paramedics at shore. Paramedics continued treatment en route to Mariner’s Hospital where Strickland was pronounced dead.

Detectives are investigating.

Hit and run kills pedestrian

An accident at 2:15 a.m. today at the 101.4mm of Highway U.S. One in Key Largo killed a pedestrian who was crossing the highway with two friends.

According to witnesses, a gold colored Pontiac Sunfire reportedly hit the man and then fled the scene, northbound. The Florida Highway Patrol is the investigating agency on this case.

Northbound traffic is impacted, however officers are diverting traffic around the accident so cars are getting through the area.

Anyone with information about the case can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS or on line tips can be submitted at

March 12, 2010

Detectives look for missing woman and her two friends

Top to bottom, Henshaw, Coughlin and two different pictures of Henson from 2009 and 2006.
Sheriff's detectives are investigating the disappearance of a Key West woman in February. They want to talk to the two men who reported her missing to the Coast Guard.
Detectives say 37 year old Michelle Henson was last seen February 24th and was reported missing the next day. Two male acquaintances - 44 year old Brendan Coughlin and 44 year old Darrell Henshaw - called the U.S. Coast Guard that day. Since their call to the Coast Guard, no one in law enforcement has been able to find them to talk to them. Detective Mark Coleman would like to talk to them and is asking them to call, or for anyone who knows where they are or might be to call his office at 305-289-2410.

Henson lived on board a houseboat offshore of Key West, in Cow Key Channel.

Highway Interdiction operation, in the Lower Keys and Key West

A Joint Highway Interdiction operation in the Lower Keys Thursday night resulted in one drug arrest, and two notice to appear in court for drugs.

Sheriff's detectives from the Special Investigations Division conducted a joint operation with the City of Key West Narcotics Unit. They stopped 48 vehicles during the operation, which was conducted between mm 10 and North Roosevelt Blvd in Key West They issued five citations, one criminal citation, and thirty two warnings. They conducted 24 K-9 vehicle searches and arrested one person found to be in possession of drugs.

Assisting in the operation were the City Of Key West Narcotics Unit and their K-9 team, U.S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigations, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the City of Marathon K-9 team.

March 11, 2010

Teen charged with drugs after reckless driving

A Cape Coral teen was arrested for possessing marijuana and cocaine after being stopped for reckless driving.

Deputy Christian Galls was on patrol at 10:30 p.m. in Marathon when he spotted a green Honda Acura weaving from one lane to another near the Marathon Community Park. Deputy Galls recognized the car from a previous notice to be on the lookout for a reckless driver.

When he pulled the car over, and began speaking with the 17 year old driver, Eric

Zornes, the deputy could smell a strong odor of marijuana. He asked Zornes if he’d been drinking or doing drugs. Zornes admitted smoking marijuana and having some in the car and in the car’s trunk. He was arrested.

When a search turned up a digital scale, Deputy Galls asked Zornes why he had it. Zornes said he had it to weigh his drugs. A plastic bag with cocaine was found in Zornes’ wallet.

Zornes was charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine and drug paraphernalia and he was booked into jail.

March 10, 2010

Sheriff Peryam honors Employees of the Year

In the photo, left to right: Vicki Walker, TIB Bank Vice President / Corporate Secretary; Reserve of the Year Mary Jo Migala; Support Member of the Year Thomas O’Dea; Explorer of the Year Michael Boyce; Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Terry Smith; Corrections Officer of the Year Michelle Heaviland; Sheriff Robert P. Peryam; Mimi Young, TIB Bank Vice President and Islamorada Branch Manager.

Click here for more photos of the ceremony.

In a special ceremony held Friday in Marathon, Sheriff Robert Peryam honored Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Employees of the Year for 2009.

"The people chosen as Employees of the Year are truly the best of the best – they have proven themselves to be outstanding employees, as well as outstanding contributors to the community they serve," said Sheriff Bob Peryam.

The yearly award winners received a plaque from the Sheriff in recognition of their exemplary work, and a badge to wear on their uniforms with the designation "Officer (or Employee) of the Year". In addition, they each receive a check for $500.00 donated by TIB Bank, and $1,000.00 from the Sheriff’s Office. The Cadet of the year receives $100.00 from TIB Bank, with a matching amount from the Sheriff’s Office.

The Cormier Memorial Award, given to the Sheriff’s Office Sworn Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, is named for Deputy David Cormier, a Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy killed in the line of duty in a traffic accident in November of 1989. Members of the Cormier family attended the ceremony in memory of their loved one who gave his life in service to the community.

Recipients of the Award are:
Deputy Sheriff of the Year: Homicide Detective Terry Smith
Corrections Officer of the Year: Detention Deputy Michelle Heaviland
Support Employee of the Year: Aviation Supervisor Tom O’Dea
Reserve of the Year: Mary Jo Migala
Explorer of the Year: Michael Boyce

Deputy receives “Medal of Merit” from the National Sheriff’s Association

For his “valuable contributions to his community and to the field of criminal justice and law enforcement” Sheriff’s Deputy Evan Calhoun has received the “Medal of Merit” from the National Sheriff’s Association.

Deputy Calhoun was the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sheriff of the Year for 2008 and, due to his being awarded that honor, and for his contributions to law enforcement in the Florida Keys, the NSA awarded him the “Medal of Merit”. He received these honors because he has shown himself to be an outstanding deputy, whose activity is extremely high and who works hard to keep the community safe. Deputy Calhoun’s primary patrol area is Stock Island and his patrol efforts there have visibly improved the quality of life for those law-abiding people who live there.

“I am extremely proud of Deputy Calhoun,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “This award is a prestigious one – I don’t think we’ve ever had another officer receive it, and Deputy Calhoun is definitely deserving of it.”

Sergeant receives life-saving award

Sgt. Donnie Elomina, who heads up the Crimes Against Person’s Unit at the Sheriff’s Office, recently received a life saving award from Sheriff Bob Peryam. Sgt. Elomina was first on the scene of a deadly crash on the Seven Mile Bridge recently. One of the vehicles had caught fire and there were people trapped inside. Sgt. Elomina, with the assistance of bystanders, pulled the vehicle’s occupants from the burning vehicle at considerable risk to his own life.

“Sgt. Elomina truly went above and beyond the call of duty on this one,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “He put the welfare of others before the welfare of himself and truly earned this Sheriff’s Medal.”

March 9, 2010

Two spring breakers face drug charges

Stock Island - A traffic stop for speeding led to the arrest of two spring breakers on drug charges.

Deputy Evan Calhoun was on patrol, stopped at Key Haven road when a silver vehicle sped past him on the highway southbound. Estimating the speed at 85 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone, he pulled out behind it as it turned onto 3rd Street. He turned on his overhead lights to stop the vehicle on MacDonald Avenue.

Deputy Calhoun noticed the front passenger acting furtively as he looked in the glove box for insurance paperwork. Being concerned about the possible presence of a weapon, the deputy told all three people in the car to raise their hands, and he looked for weapons in the vehicle. Instead, he found plastic bags with a white powder inside on the front floorboards of the car. Total amount of the cocaine was three grams.

The driver and front passenger were identified as 21 year old Andrew Crites and 21 year old Brett Shambach, both of St. Augustine. They both admitted to purchasing the cocaine on the mainland and bringing it down for Spring Break. Some pills with white power inside were found in the car as well. They said it was a dietary supplement pill they were using as a "cutting agent" for the cocaine. A digital scale was also found in the car, along with plastic bags used for packaging the drugs. Both of Crites and Shambach said the third person in the back seat was not involved with the drug activity, so he was released with no charges.

Crites and Shambach were both arrested. They were charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. Crites, who was driving, had a driver's license with a "business only" restriction, so he was also charged with that violation. Both were booked into jail.

Visit the Animal Farm March 14th, Easter at the Farm March 28th

On Sunday, March 14th, bring the family and visit the Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm.

Everyone is invited to visit the Sheriff’s Animal Farm Sunday, March 14th between 1 and 3 p.m. The farm is a terrific family activity that is FREE OF CHARGE. Donations are, of course, greatly appreciated because they help keep the animal’s habitats in good repair and help pay for food and upkeep at the farm.

The farm has about 250 animals of all kinds and is truly a wonderful place for children and adults alike. The farm is open second and fourth Sundays of every month. Groups may schedule special trips by contacting Farmer Selander at 305-293-7300. The farm is located underneath the Monroe County Detention Center, off of College Road on Stock Island.

Make sure you mark your calendars now for the annual Easter on the Farm event. This year it will be held on Sunday, March 28th, from 1pm to 3pm. There will be an egg hunt for the children, face painting, coloring, music by the HOB band, the Masonic Lodge Child ID program, and the Easter bunny will stop by for photos. This year, we have a professional photographer who is donating his services for the event.

Everyone is welcome to attend! This event is free of charge, and donations are appreciated!

March 6, 2010

Man charged with auto theft, burglary

Marathon - A Key West man was arrested in Marathon at 4 a.m. driving a stolen car.

Deputies Paul Bean and Joel Slough were on patrol when dispatchers received a report of a stolen 1995 Mercury sedan. Deputy Slough responded to speak to the car’s owner; she said she’d been at a bar and the car had been stolen from the parking lot while she was inside.

Deputy Bean remembered seeing the car at a 63rd Street just a few minutes before. A man was standing beside it, pumping gas into the vehicle.

Deputy Bean began searching for the vehicle and found it at 15th Street. The same man was standing beside it, again pumping gas. He was identified as 38 year old Reuben Nolt, of Key West. Nolt claimed to be the owner of the car. He had no valid driver’s license. He has a suspended Indiana license and a suspended Florida ID card.

A clerk at one of the gas stations said he’d tried to pay with a credit card with a woman’s name on it. The clerk kept the card, not charging it and turned it over to Deputy Bean when he arrived. Nolt had pumped $20 worth of gas. Marijuana was found in Nolt’s pockets.

He was arrested, charged with burglary, grand theft auto, two counts of theft and possession of marijuana. He was booked into jail.

March 4, 2010

Texas man dies diving

Key Largo – A man from Rockwall, Texas died while diving offshore of Key Largo Wednesday.

57 year old Thomas Pickett was on board a dive vessel operated by Silent World Dive Center, diving at Elbow Reef when the incident occurred.

Witnesses told Deputy Derek Paul Pickett had been diving at approximately 20 feet in depth. His dive buddy said he did not appear to have trouble during the dive. Other witnesses say Pickett surfaced and began to have trouble. He was pulled into the boat and was unconscious. He quit breathing so crew on board the boat began to perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. He was brought in to shore at Garden Cove Drive at the 106 mile marker of the highway. Paramedics met the boat at shore and transported Pickett to Mariner’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be done t determine the cause of his death.

March 3, 2010

Sheriff's talks to kids about safety.

On Friday, Sheriff Peryam spoke to kids at Montessori School in Islamorada about safety. In the photo, he is speaking to 190 kids at the school on their "Student Council Day".

March 1, 2010

Drug Drop program: Environmentally friendly way to dispose of medications

Lower Keys –The Sheriff’s Office is offering an environmentally friendly program to allow people to dispose safely of no-longer-needed prescription drugs and other medications. This program is now up and running in the Lower Keys and in the Upper Keys. It will soon be offered county wide.

People living from Stock Island to the Seven Mile Bridge can stop by the Freeman Substation on Cudjoe Key and drop off old, outdated medications during business hours, or they can call and a deputy will stop by and pick the medications up. The drug disposal program is also operating in the upper Keys, from Plantation Key to Key Largo. The medications will then be burned by Detective Sgt. Bobby Randolph, who operates the Sheriff's Burn Unit and who holds a special license to burn narcotics.

People who call to have medications picked up can do so with no questions asked. "Our goal here is to dispose of this stuff properly, not to catch people with illegal pills," said Lieutenant Gene Thompson, Commander of the Freeman Substation.

Proper disposal of prescription and over the counter medications is important. Flushing them down the toilet or sink can introduce dangerous and environmentally damaging substances into the water system; throwing them away in the trash can also introduce them into the environment, and runs the risk of them winding up in the wrong hands.

If you are part of an organization, like a Crime Watch group or a Homeowners Association, and would like us to collect old medications at one of your meetings, in the Lower Keys, call 305-745-3184; in the upper Keys, call 305-853-3211.

Businesses checked that sell alcoholic beverages

On February 27, 2010 the Sheriff’s Special Investigations Division conducted an undercover operation checking businesses that sell alcohol in Marathon. Sixteen businesses were checked using an underage undercover operative who entered the business and attempted to purchase an alcoholic beverage. The businesses included restaurants, convenience stores and bars. Three of the businesses served alcohol to minors during the investigation. The 3 people were given notices to appear before a Monroe County Judge.

The following are a list of the business, and suspects who sold the alcohol:

Villa Blanca Restaurant 2211 Overseas Hwy, Marathon. Attendant – Fernando Davalos DOB 5/27/62 notice to appear issued.

Fairway Market 39th St, Marathon. Attendant – Mohammed Shiraj Hossain DOB 1/2/50 notice to appear issued

Belly Deli, 13333 Overseas Hwy, Marathon. Attendant – Sydonnies Scarlett DOB 1/2/80 notice to appear issued

The Sale Clerk violations are up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, $235 in court cost, $75 in cost of prosecution, and $40 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 business 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.

Donation of dolls helps investigators deal with children

The Upper Keys Business and Professional Women’s association purchased and donated anatomically correct dolls to the Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit for use in sexual and physical abuse cases involving children.
“Using these dolls when interviewing children makes it easier for us to communicate with them,” said CAWCU Detective Linda Mixon. “They really help with the investigative process. These cases are never easy and every little bit helps,” she said.

In the photo, BPW President Holly Merril is pictured with Upper Keys Captain Lou Caputo and CAWCU Detective Linda Mixon.

Sheriff’s Office receives 7th perfect audit

For the seventh year in a row, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has received a perfect audit – with no negative findings – from the national CPA and Consulting firm, Cherry, Bekaert and Holland.

“We are very proud to have received our seventh perfect audit,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “We work very hard to be accountable with the taxpayer dollars we are entrusted with. I think this shows exemplary performance on the part of our Finance Division, and everyone who has had a part in working on the financial side of our house,” he said.

Sheriff’s Office detailed budget documents are available on the Sheriff’s Office web site going back to the 1999 / 2000 fiscal year and all 7 perfect audits are posted there as well. The documents can be found at