August 28, 2014

Snapchat video leads to occupied residential burglary

Five Lower Keys teens have been arrested and charged with burglarizing a Stock Island residence. They told investigators they saw a picture on the Snapchat app that led them to believe there was a lot of money in the home.

A 15 year old boy saw a Snapchat video of his cousin holding a large amount of money. He and several other teens subsequently  formulated a plan to go to the cousin’s house on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island and steal the money.

On the night of August 12th, they all drove to the home together. Two of boys used a pry bar to force their way inside the home. As the boys were going through shoe boxes in the apartment, the family’s dogs began barking. They woke the couple sleeping inside – the aunt and uncle of the suspect mentioned earlier.

She confronted them. They ran from the house, taking a MacBook Pro laptop with them from the house.

Detective Dave Chavka was assigned to investigate. The female victim told the detective she suspected her nephew might be involved. During the course of Detective Chavka’s investigation, he interviewed all five suspects who were eventually arrested for being involved with the crime.

The five suspects – including 18 year old Kevin Hawthorne who was arrested Wednesday – were all arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft.

The other suspects include:

17 year old Michel Canizares (one of the suspects who actually entered the home)
15 year old Patrick Lopez (the cousin/nephew of the victims)
16 year old Malcolm Scranton

15 year old Anniel Torres (one of the suspects who actually entered the home)

Georgia man charged with attempted robbery, battery

A man from Augusta, Georgia was arrested Wednesday after he confronted another man in a convenience store and tried to steal the gold chain from around his neck.

Witnesses and the victim say Julian James Oldham walked in to the Tiny’s convenience store at the 82.7 mile marker of the highway shortly after 10 p.m. The victim was in line at the counter when Oldham walked up and demanded he give him the gold chain from around his neck.

The victim refused. Oldham then grabbed the chain and tried to forcibly remove it. The victim pushed Oldham away and they struggled. Oldham became enraged and began knocking down shelves of merchandise, causing considerable damage in the store. He then left the store, getting in to a truck outside with two others in the truck.

The witnesses gave a detailed description of the truck, a grey colored “jacked up” Ford truck with a sticker on the back window of a woman pole dancing with the words “Dirty Hooker”. The truck was found at the Sunset Inn at the 82 mile marker of the highway. Oldham was identified by witnesses and the victim as the suspect.

Oldham was charged with battery, robbery, criminal mischief and disturbing the peace. He was booked into jail.

August 25, 2014

Islamorada clean up scheduled

The Sheriff’s Office will be organizing a clean up on Saturday, September 6th at Sea Oats Beach, 76 mile marker of U.S. One. The clean up will begin at 8:30 a.m. We welcome members of the public to help with this community clean up effort.

August 22, 2014

Come out and root for your favorite team!

Important safety event!

Dive team cleans up

 Part of the dive team assisted some local businesses (Postcard Inn & Islamorada Beer Co.) with a clean-up at Whale Harbor sandbar Sat the 16th. They filled two large trash bags in less than two hours. Dep. William Daniels rescued a small octopus from one of the bottles collected, and released it after receiving a couple of bites on the hand.

Keeping the community clean!

Upper Keys road patrol stayed busy all week - not just answering calls, but painting out graffiti, cleaning up trash and returning shopping carts. In one particular instance, Deputy Jean Gonzalez found boxes of yard sale items abandoned alongside the road. He picked all the boxes up and took them to the Salvation Army.

Great job everyone! Way to show your commitment to the community!

Two charged with burglary, grand theft

Two men from Homestead and Cutler Bay were arrested Thursday afternoon after they stole two kayaks and entered a sailboat anchored offshore without the permission of the owner.

The sailboat’s owner said he was on shore at Whale Harbor at 5 p.m. when he saw 18 year old Luis Morales Gutierrez and 20 year old Durbalino De Carvalho jump onto two rental kayaks and row out to his vessel, which is anchored just offshore of Whale Harbor. When he saw them climb on board his boat, he rowed out to the boat on a skiff and confronted them.

The two told him they were on his boat looking for beer. They then jumped into the water and fled back to shore on the kayaks.

When Deputy Josh Brady arrived on the scene, he spoke with both the burglary victim, and the owner of Seven Watersports – the business the kayaks were stolen from. Both victims said they wanted to press charges.

Morales Gutierrez and De Carvalho were both charged with burglary and grand theft and they were taken to jail. 

Sheriff’s Office announces sobriety checkpoint

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a sobriety checkpoint on Stock Island on Saturday, August 30th.

Sgt. Ken Fricke is organizing the checkpoint, which will be in place northbound at Cross Street and Highway U.S. One from 8 p.m.Saturday until 2 a.m. Sunday. Vehicles will be checked for safety violations, and drivers will be observed for signs of impairment.

Labor Day weekend is expected to be a busy one in the Florida Keys with many people visiting the county for the holiday. Deputies will be on the highway all weekend keeping an eye out for dangerous driving behaviors, including speeding, passing in no passing zones and drunk driving.

Sheriff’s Office vessels will also be on the water keeping an eye out for boaters who are intoxicated, as well as those who are violating our marine ordinances and laws.

Also, remember that with large numbers of visitors come those who like to prey on them. Don’t provide criminals with an easy target. Make sure you lock your car doors, lock the doors and close and lock the windows of your home and don’t leave valuable items in view anywhere – in your car, underneath your house, on the balcony of your condo or apartment, or on your boat.

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend!

August 21, 2014

Key Largo woman charged with burglary to neighbor’s home

A Key Largo woman who entered a neighbor’s home without permission, then got into an altercation with him was arrested for burglary.

The incident took place on June 8th at a home on Buttonwood Circle. The victim’s dogs began barking so he went downstairs to see what they were barking at. He found a woman – later identified as 42 year old Nancy Walker – inside the downstairs of his home. He confronted her, asking her why she was in his home. She said “I live here”. He told her to leave and she shoved him. A struggle took place and a number of items were broken. She finally left the property.

The victim did not recognize the woman and she was unable to be identified at the time of the crime.

On August 12th, the same deputy responded to a domestic disturbance on Ocean Way, just three houses away from the home on Buttonwood Circle. The male victim told the deputy his wife had a drinking problem. The deputy mentioned the break in that had happened in June. The male victim said “That was my wife Nancy.”

The deputy put together a photo lineup which included a photo of Nancy Walker and showed it to the victim of the residential burglary. He positively identified her as the woman who had been in his house and who he had struggled with.

A warrant was issued for Walker for burglary with battery on the occupant and criminal mischief. She was arrested on Tuesday and booked into jail on those charges.

Miami man arrested after DNA identification

A Miami man was arrested for a residential burglary after blood found at the scene was tested and identified him as the suspect.

The burglary took place March 28th in the vicinity of the 96 mile marker of Highway U.S. One. The maintenance man for the property called the Sheriff’s Office at 8:45 a.m. after finding the front door and a sliding glass door open. He discovered a television and five fishing rods and reels missing from the house. There were also kitchen cabinets left open, open liquor bottles and evidence someone had eaten and played video games inside.

Blood was found on the end of coaxial cable which had been attached to the missing television. The blood was collected as evidence and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement laboratory for testing.

On July 21st, the lab report was received identifying 25 year old Jorge Moreno as the suspect in the case. A warrant was issued for his arrest for burglary and grand theft. On August 15th he was picked up on the warrant by Miami-Dade County police. He was returned to Monroe County to face the charges on Wednesday. He is currently in the Monroe County Detention Center.

August 20, 2014

Academy team building

A new Corrections Officer academy is starting up this week and cadets are going through orientations and what you might call "warm up" exercises at the Sheriff's Office headquarters building on Stock Island. Captain Penny Phelps, who heads up our training unit, is putting them through their paces with some team building exercises to get everyone acquainted and to get them all working together. In this particular exercise, the cadets are broken into two groups. Each group has to stand on a small tablecloth. Without stepping off the tablecloth, they have to turn it over from the patterned side up to the white side up. As you can see, it isn't easy, but in the end - working together - they did it. Great job cadets!

August 18, 2014

Employee promoted

Christian “Chuck” Kellenberger was recently promoted to sergeant and will be working in that capacity in the Marathon Sheriff’s patrol district. Here he is receiving his promotion from Sheriff Rick Ramsay and Colonel Bill Cameron.

Sheriff recognizes employee accomplishments

The Sheriff’s Office held its service awards ceremony recently in Marathon. At the ceremony, members were recognized for their years of service. Outstanding employees of the second quarter, 2014 were also recognized for their accomplishments. The quarterly award winners, left to right: Detention Deputy Mark Belile, Sgt. Jason Madnick, Reserve Deputy Ben Elmore and Sheriff Rick Ramsay. Not pictured: Explorer Marco Dimieri.

Employee recognized with medal

Sherwood “Woody” Hanford, Juvenile Programs Supervisor with the Sheriff’s Office, recently received a State of Florida Commendation Medal from the office of the Governor for “outstanding meritorious service to the community, state and nation”. Woody has been a mentor for the National Guard’s Florida Youth Challenge Academy for over 12 years. He received the medal at an academy ceremony at Fort Blanding from academy Director James Ransom and Colonel Beswenger, Chief of Staff for the Florida National Guard. In the photo, Hanford is recognized by Sheriff Ramsay for receiving this prestigious award.

Long-time employee retires

Lt. Cindy Peryam was promoted to Captain as she retires with  34 years of service to the Sheriff’s Office. Cindy started in 1980 as a dispatcher, working her way up the ranks to Lieutenant in Professional Standards.

Graffiti cleaned up in Islamorada

 Sgt. Mike DiGiovanni’s squad discovered this graffiti on a rock in front of the Postcard Inn in Islamorada. They met with Inn management about it and they produced this bobcat bulldozer which they used to turn the rock over, thus covering the graffiti.

Deputy cleans up on Duck Key

Deputy Matt O’Neill took the initiative recently when he found a large amount of trash dumped on Duck Key. Here are before and after pictures of his efforts.

Deputy cleans up Stock Island

Deputy Lazaro Valdez has been working hard to keep Stock Island and College Road clean. Here is a before and after picture of a cleanup project on 10th Avenue, Stock Island. He has also been working hard cleaning up trash in the mangroves bordering College Road. In one area, he found a booby trap set up in a homeless camp; Monroe County Public Works helped to safely remove it before anyone got hurt.

MARC Fundraiser

The MARC House held an Ice Cream Social fund raiser recently. Helping out at the event was Jordan Catala, Jo Socha, Linda Mixon and her daughter Alexandra.

Playgroup in Islamorada

Captain Corey Bryan and Lt.s Al Ramirez and David Carey recently hosted a play group at the Islamorada substation. McGruff even made an appearance!

Schools get facelifts

 The Sigsbee Charter School in Key West and Stanley Switlik School in Marathon got some help cleaning up before school started thanks to some industrious souls from the Sheriff’s Office.

Photo contest - Sunrises and Sunsets the theme!

The Florida Association of Counties is holding a photo contest for their 2015 Calendar. The theme is Sunrises and Sunsets....can't think of a theme more appropriate to the Florida Keys. Here is a link to their web site which explains the rules, and how to submit a photo. Let's make sure Monroe County has at least one photo in the calendar! Share this with all of your friends - anyone can submit one or more photos.

Man charged with vehicle burglary

A man from Pinellas Park, Florida was arrested for vehicle burglary at the Circle K Store on Big Coppitt Key this morning.

The store manager arrived at work just before 6 a.m. He parked his car and was standing beside the morning delivery truck when he saw someone inside his car with a flashlight, rummaging around. He confronted 31 year old David Devereux, yelling at him to get out of his car. Devereux complied. The manager called the Sheriff’s Office to report the incident.

A short time later, he was again standing by the delivery truck when he saw Devereux go back into his car and remove a backpack from the back of it, then walk up a ramp extending from the back of the delivery truck and into the back of the truck without permission. One of the truck drivers on scene ordered him out of the truck, but Devereux refused to leave the truck.

When Sgt. Rick Martin arrived, he found Devereux still in the truck and took him into custody. Deputy David Lariz arrived a short time later and transported Devereux to jail. Devereux was charged with burglary of a vehicle, possession of burglary tools and trespassing.

August 15, 2014

Traffic slowdowns expected next week on Stock Island

The Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Unit is anticipating traffic slowdowns next week in the vicinity of Stock Island due to the start of school and road construction currently underway at the entrance to the city of Key West.

The start of school will mean an increase in morning traffic from the Key Haven neighborhood through Stock Island and into the city of Key West. Road construction currently has one left turn lane closed at the entrance to the city, and one inbound lane on South Roosevelt Boulevard between the triangle and Flagler Avenue. These closed lanes are already causing traffic slowdowns inbound into the city and the increase in morning traffic next week will just exacerbate that situation.

Anyone traveling into the city of Key West Monday morning should expect a delay of up to 30 minutes, with traffic backing up possibly as far as Key Haven. The Sheriff’s Office Traffic Enforcement Unit will have deputies in that area doing what they can to keep traffic moving, but the sheer volume of cars will make it difficult to alleviate the delay. Anyone who can avoid traveling that direction between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. should do so. Others should adjust schedules and plan for extra drive time.

August 14, 2014

Man dies while snorkeling

A Pennsylvania man died Wednesday while snorkeling offshore of Key Largo.

71 year old Charles Leidigh of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania was on a snorkeling trip on board the Sundiver III. The captain of the vessel told Deputy Jean Gonzalez they were at White Bank – Dry Rocks Reef when he noticed a snorkeler not moving, face down in the water just before 4 p.m. The first mate pulled Leidigh onto the boat and began performing CPR. All other snorkelers were recalled to the boat, which then returned to shore. Leidigh’s wife and grandson were also on the boat trip.

The boat was met by paramedics at Port Largo subdivision. Leidigh was pronounced dead by paramedics. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

August 13, 2014

Hialeah man charged with robbery

Update on this case: Wednesday morning detectives recovered the stolen watch from the vehicle the suspect had been traveling in....

A Hialeah man who snatched a Rolex watch from a store clerk at a jewelry store and then fled on foot was arrested Tuesday.

The store clerk called the Sheriff’s Office shortly before 1 p.m. to report the crime. She said a couple was in the Blue Marlin Jewelry store and stole a Rolex watch she was showing to them. She was able to give a description of the man and woman, and the car they fled in – a small black two door vehicle with dark tinted windows. The clerk sustained an injury to her hand during the robbery.

The car was stopped by Lt. David Carey at the 96 mile marker of the highway. There were four people inside. Two of them matched the description given by the store clerk. All four people inside the car agreed to go to the Sheriff’s substation to be interviewed.

One of the women in the car who was driving told Detective Bob Dosh the four of them took a day trip together to Key West and were returning to Miami when 22 year old Ronald Cordero told her to stop at the Blue Marlin Jewelry Store. She said Cordero and her girlfriend got out of the car; she said they were gone for a while and then returned, running, and Cordero yelled “drive”.

The woman with Cordero in the store confirmed she was looking at watches in the store while Cordero used the restroom. She said the clerk was showing her the Rolex when Cordero snatched it out of the clerk’s hand and they fled.

Cordero was arrested. He was charged with robbery, grand theft and battery and he was booked in to jail. The watch, which is valued at $13,000, has not yet been recovered.

August 11, 2014

Boat yard fire on Stock Island

Deputies and firefighters responded to a fire at 3D Boatyard this morning.

The fire was reported at 6:15 a.m. By the time Deputy Matt Dowling arrived, firefighters had extinguished the fire. A man who lived on board a boat next door to the burned building said he got up to use the restroom at 5 a.m. and did not smell anything burning in the area.

The County Fire Marshall arrived on scene and will be investigating the cause of the fire.

Dogs perish in boat fire

A fire on a houseboat in Marathon killed two dogs and did considerable damage to the boat.

When Deputy William Daniels arrived just before 6 p.m. at 35 Sombrero Beach Boulevard firefighters had already extinguished the blaze. They were attempting CPR on one of two Great Danes that had been on board the houseboat during the fire. Neither dogs were able to be revived.

Neighbors initially saw the fire and attempted to extinguish it with fire extinguishers and hoses.

The owners of the houseboat said they’d been working on it all day making repairs and had just left shortly after 5 p.m. They said they were unaware of any issues on the boat which may have caused the fire.

August 9, 2014

Man arrested for abusing girlfriend and dog

A man staying with his girlfriend on Summerland Key was arrested after he beat her, cut her, threatened to kill her and abused his dog.

The girlfriend was finally able to call for help at 6:45 p.m. after he passed out. She told Deputy Ian Cooper that Carlos Gascon had been beating her all day. She said he was angry at her because he had a dream she was cheating on him.

She said during the course of the day on Friday, he cut the back of her leg with a knife, poured hot coffee on her, choked her, held a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her.  He also reportedly picked her up and slammed her down on a glass table, breaking it. She said he also picked up his dog, slammed it on the ground and then put his foot on the dogs neck. She said she couldn’t find her cell phone or her car keys and she believes he threw them in the canal behind their house.

Gascon was arrested. He was charged with aggravated battery, aggravated assault, domestic battery by strangulation, battery, false imprisonment, and animal cruelty.

Restaurant owner arrested after fight

The owner of the Hogfish Restaurant on Stock Island was arrested Friday night after an argument which turned physical.

According to numerous witnesses the incident began with a disagreement over restaurant patrons using restrooms at the marina next door. A woman who lives at the marina confronted several patrons, telling them they were not allowed to use the restrooms. Deputies later interviewed the marina manager who said restaurant patrons are allowed to use the restrooms.

The manager of the Hogfish Restaurant walked over in an attempt to resolve the situation. He had reportedly notified the restaurant owner, 57 year old Bobby Mongelli who also showed up at the scene.

Mongelli began arguing with the woman about her confrontation with restaurant patrons. Her boyfriend, who was also present, tried to intervene. A struggle ensued between the boyfriend and Mongelli. At some point, Mongelli pushed the boyfriend into the pool at the marina. As he was falling into the pool, the boyfriend hit his side on the edge of the pool.

Deputy Donald Stullken was dispatched to the area. When he arrived, Mongelli was sitting outside and the boyfriend was being treated by paramedics. He was transported to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken rib.

Mongelli was arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

August 8, 2014

Woman dies after diving with hookah rig

A 36 year old woman from Miramar, Florida died after a dive using a hookah rig offshore of Marathon Thursday.

36 year old Melissa Fellows was diving offshore of the Seven Mile Bridge about 2 p.m. on a dive trip on board a private vessel. She and another person were diving for lobster in about 12 feet of water using a hookah rig breathing apparatus. There were a number of others on the boat, including her husband, 32 year old Wayne Fellows.

Her dive buddy told Deputy Leon Bourcier the hoses from the rig got wrapped around a piling. When he tried to free it, his air shut off. He said he surfaced, but Fellows did not.

A short time later she did surface, but she was reportedly face down in the water and not breathing. Fellows was pulled from the water and people on board the boat began CPR.

Another boat was nearby and heard yelling. On board that boat were some trained paramedics who took over CPR. Fellows was brought in to the Sunset Grill on Knights Key where an ambulance took her to Fisherman’s Hospital. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of her death.

Trailer fire on Big Pine Key

Deputies and firefighters responded to a fire in a trailer in Seahorse Campground at 7:45 p.m.

Deputy Kendall Bailey responded as did firefighters from Big Pine fire department. The resident of the trailer, 55 year old David Baker, was also on scene.

The fire was extinguished, but the trailer reportedly sustained major damage. The Red Cross will be assisting Baker, since he lost most of his belongings in the fire. The Fire Marshal will be investigating the cause of the blaze.

August 7, 2014

More photos from National Night Out events

More photos from National Night Out Tuesday night. These are the Marathon, Islamorada and Big Pine Key events....again, thanks goes out to those who helped make it happen and to those who attended. We hope everyone had fun! 

August 6, 2014

National Night Out events are a great success

Here are some photos from our National Night Out events throughout the county last night. We certainly hope everyone who attended one of our events had a great time....I know we all did! Thanks to everyone who attended from participating agencies who helped to make National Night Out a great success once again.