Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sheriff's office to be HQ for drug drop off

MANATEE -  Starting Jan. 3 Manatee residents can dispose of any unused prescription medication at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, 600 301 Blvd. W, according to a media release.
The drop off is a part of the Citizen Medication Collection Program, which allows people to bring medication to the front desk of the sheriff’s office 24 hours a day.
“We don’t have an end date, people can come in day or night,” said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office has held several prescription drug drop-off events throughout the year, and according to Bristow officials are hoping that an around-the-clock drop-off location will encourage more people to safely dispose of their medications.
“The prescription drug problem is getting out of hand and people are doing whatever they can to get it,” Bristow said.
Bristow stressed that “any excess prescription medication you may have for whatever reason or any outdated medication you need to get rid of,” should be dropped off so it doesn’t get to anyone who would abuse it.
 No liquid medications will be accepted as a part of this program, and the sheriff’s office does ask that medication be placed in a clear plastic bag.
Bags will be available at the sheriff’s office.
Anyone with questions about the program can call the sheriff’s office at (941)747-3011 ext. 2278.
- Paradise Afshar 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gang census shows Manatee has 516 members

MANATEE - The Attorney General's Office has released a new census documenting 56,200 gang members, associates and other suspects statewide.

Of those, 516 are members residing in Manatee County in 2010, according to Manatee County Sheriff's Office. There are 45 associates and an estimated 150 suspected gang members who are not documented, said sheriff's office Gang Unit Sgt. Gary Combee.

Manatee County has a total of 21 documented gangs including several motorcycle gangs and Aryan Brotherhood.

There have been three gangs that have undergone RICO prosecution: Brown Pride Locos, Third Shift and SUR-13.

Statewide, there was a 1.7 percent decrease in the number of gang members - 30,796, but all other figures increased including the number of gangs documents and the number of law enforcement agencies reporting figures.

In Sarasota County, there were 400 documented gang members and 95 associates from a total of five gangs.

Read the full story in Thursday's Bradenton Herald.

- Beth Burger

Monday, December 13, 2010

Local law enforcement agencies are tweeting

Add your friends. Follow people who share your interests.

And now, you can follow the Bradenton Police Department on Twitter @BradentonPolice.

Recently, the department started tweeting updates to followers as a new way to communicate with the community about department news and local crime cases.

Manatee County Sheriff's Office also has a Twitter account -- @ManateeSheriff -- with 315 followers to date. The agency began tweeting in July 2009.

Off-duty Bradenton officers to Christmas shop with children

BRADENTON  - Bradenton Police Department officers will shop with approximately 100 children this week as part of a partnership with Kingdom Life Christian Church.

The event, Honoring the Badge, allows children from underprivileged working families to shop with officers for Christmas.

Off-duty officers in uniform will begin shopping with children using $25 gift cards at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Toys R' Us, 512 Cortez Road.

The children are selected by community leaders and the gift cards are funded through donations.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DNA a factor in several recent criminal cases in Manatee

Crime-fighting science continues to play a major role in major cases with ties to Manatee County.

Last year, it was revealed that a backlog in a federal database delayed a possible match between evidence found at Sarasota crime scenes and the DNA of convicted felon Delmer Smith III, which had been taken from him while he was in prison for an earlier bank robbery conviction..

During that lag time, a Manatee woman, Kathleen Briles, was beaten to death in her home, a slaying for which Smith was later charged -- and a slaying that local officials say might have been prevented if a DNA match had been made earlier.

More recently, we saw what can happen when the DNA database system works as designed.

Kevin L. Fortune on Friday was charged with sexual battery after detectives say his DNA was matched with evidence from a May 2008 rape case in Bradenton. He was already in jail on charges related to a separate case from June 2009.

And on Tuesday, Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Willie Lee Shannon of Ellenton, after learning he was wanted in Las Vegas for murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in 1981.

The key evidence in the case, according to authorities, was Shannon's own DNA, after it was matched with semen recovered just last month from the underwear of the 18-year-old victim, Jamey Walker.

Police and prosecutors use DNA to link suspects with crimes. But defense lawyers also use it as they try to clear their clients.

For example, the Innocence Project of Florida earlier this year released DNA test results it says clear a Palmetto man, Derrick Williams, of a 1992 kidnapping and rape in Manatee County. Williams is serving life in prison, as a motion to vacate his sentence remains pending.

-- Marc R. Masferrer

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oxycodone is the leading cause of drug overdose deaths locally

Oxycodone was the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto counties in the first half of 2010, according to an interim report issued Thursday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Medical Examiners released the report examining approximately 89,800 deaths in Florida between January and June of this year.

Out of those deaths, 4,150 people were found to have died with one or more drugs in their bodies.

Drugs that were ruled as the cause of death in the 12thMedical Examiner District, which includes Manatee County, are as follows:

  • Oxycodone:  46 deaths
  • Alprazolam:  38 deaths
  • Methadone: 25 deaths
  • Cocaine: 20 deaths
  • Diazepam:  11 deaths
  • Morphine: 5 deaths
  • Hydrocodone:  4 deaths
  • Propoxyphene: 1 death
  • Heroin: 1 death

Statewide, the drugs that caused the most deaths were Oxycodone (715); all Benzodiazepines (597); which includes Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, (439) accounting for a majority of deaths; Methadone (336); Ethyl Alcohol (270); and cocaine (250), according to a released statement.

“Medical Examiners Commission report for the first six months of 2010 continues to show the lethal consequences of the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs,” said Bruce Grant, director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control in a released statement.  “This new drug crisis rivals the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s. We must get agencies at all levels of government along with our communities and our medical professionals to step up and take action.”

In many cases multiple drugs were found in decedents' bodies, according to report, showing people sometimes died from a combination of drugs. 

Statewide, heroin is the most lethal drug in the report, however, cases decreased by 40 percent compared to the last six months of 2009. Occurrences of Oxycodone increased by 10.9 percent for the same time period, according to the report.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Woman arrested for passing fraudulent prescriptions

MANATEE - A woman remained in jail on a $40,000 bond after she passed four fake prescriptions at Bradenton Home Town Pharmacy, 1407 57th Ave. W., over the past year for Xanax and Roxicodoone, according to a Manatee County Sheriff's Office arrest warrant affidavit.

Pharmacists contacted detectives after they researched several prescriptions and made contact with the listed doctor who said 23-year-old Nicole Doborwicz was not a patient.

Doborwicz presented her driver's license each time she passed a prescription to the pharmacists.

Deborwicz's arrest is part of an effort by law enforcement to crack down on prescription drug crime and abuse. She is one of a several hundred people who have been arrested on prescription drug-related charges this year.

Every other day, at least one person dies in the three-county area of a prescription pill drug overdose, said Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Vega for the 12th district, which includes Manatee, Sarasota and Desoto counties.

Nicole Doborwicz

Floridians trying to protect wildlife lead to serious wrecks

People trying to look out for the welfare of wildlife did not fare well on Florida highways this week.

In Collier County, Steven Lee Purdy of Cape Coral died Monday night when his car was struck by another car trying to avoid an alligator crossing the road.

And in  Broward County, 44-year-old Laura Latuszynski of Weston was seriously injured Sunday evening when she stopped to help a duck. Another car then struck her parked vehicle, then hit Latuszynski.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Report: Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port is 107th most dangerous metro area in U.S.

The Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port region was the 107th most dangerous metropolitan area in the country last year, according to a national study released Sunday. That's up from #109 a year earlier.

The rankings are a result of a formula used by the study's authors to analyze 2009 statistics the FBI compiles for eight categories of crime -- murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port ranked 107th out of 347 metro areas ranked, landing between Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C., at No. 105 and Jacksonville, N.C., at 107.

A year earlier, Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port ranked #109, between Bryan-College Station, Texas, at No. 108 and Cape Coral-Fort Myers at No. 110.

Other findings of the study, conducted by CQ Press:

-- Bradenton-Sarasota-North Port ranked as the 12th most dangerous metro area in Florida in 2009. That's behind Miami-Dade County (16); Jacksonville (43); Gainesville (44); Greater Miami (48); Tallahassee (56); Orlando (59);  West Palm Beach (60); Panama City-Lynn Haven (76); Pensacola (85); Tampa-St. Petersburg (96); and Fort Lauderdale (104).

-- The safest metro area in Florida last year was Port St. Lucie, which ranked No. 186.

-- The most dangerous metro area in the country last year was Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich., and the safest was Glens Falls, N.Y.

-- The most dangerous city with a population of more than 75,000 was St. Louis, and the safest was Colonie, N.Y. (Neither Bradenton nor Sarasota were included in the city rankings.)

-- The most dangerous city in Florida was St. Petersburg, which came in at No. 31 nationally; and the safest was Coral Springs, in Broward County, which came in at No. 358 out of 400 cities ranked. (Only cities with populations of more than 75,000 were ranked.)

Some criminologists question the findings, saying the methodology is unfair. Greg Scarbro, unit chief of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, said the FBI also discourages using the data for these types of rankings, according to an Associated Press story.

Read all the rankings here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prostitution arrests down in Manatee

Prostitution arrests are down for the county, according to an investigator at Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Arrests have decreased because investigators consistently conduct stings in various locations – including 14th Street West - on a regular basis. Part of the decrease may also be due to the economy, he said.

Several undercover detectives went to local spas and lingerie shops Tuesday night where they were offered sex acts in exchange for money, resulting in the arrests of three 20-something women.

One woman at one of the shops stated, “It was her first week on the job,” when asked about one of the women arrested, the detective said.

Perhaps that’s what made the operation a success. Prostitutes tend to be guarded.

“They are tough to get,” he said. “These girls are really leery.”

A detective, who worked in the sting, stated he believes many of the businesses are a front for a prostitution ring.

-- Beth Burger

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Manatee sheriff's office: Pursuit followed policy


MANATEE - Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators are reviewing a deputy initiated pursuit that ended in the death of a 54-year-old St. Petersburg man after the 16-year-old suspect ran a red light.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Charles Wolfinger noticed 16-year-old Ramesse Harris was behind the wheel of a stolen white Lexus SUV at 9:40 p.m. Friday in the 2700 block of First Street.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Dave Bristow said that under sheriff’s office policy, all pursuits are reviewed. He noted that in this case, Wolfinger had terminated the pursuit just before the crash occurred.

“We didn’t find any problems with it. It followed all of our pursuit procedures,” Bristow said.

Read more below the fold.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Troopers looking for Toyota in hit-and-run in Bradenton

Here's an update from the Florida Highway Patrol on its investigation of a hit-and-run accident early this morning in which two pedestrians trying to cross U.S. 41 near 54th Avenue West were seriously injured:
We are currently looking for a white Toyota vehicle with front end damage and possibly a broken windshield. If anyone witnessed this crash or has information in regards to this case, please contact Trooper Russell Cruz at (941) 751-7647, ext. 440.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Manatee man found guilty of killing woman

BRADENTON — A jury found a Manatee man guilty Friday night of shooting a 22-year-old woman in the head and dumping her body off a rural East Manatee road.

A judge sentenced Jose Luis Marrero, 34, to life in prison for first-degree murder and robbery after a jury found him guilty on both counts after four hours of deliberation.

Marrero shot Lauren Whitney Lichon, of Sarasota, in the chest in her car, and as she got out of the vehicle with one gunshot wound, he fired into her head, killing her. A mosquito control worker found Lichon’s body off Rye Wilderness Road on Feb. 5, 2009.

Marrero showed no emotion as he learned his fate, while his family and the Lichon family wept at the verdict.

Lichon’s brother, Eric, said his sister was beloved by many.

“She was much loved and justice was served,” he said.

Read more in Saturday’s edition of the Herald.
-- Robert Napper

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Study: Florida No. 3 in drive-by shootings

Florida had the third-highest number of drive-by shootings during a six-month period in 2008, according to a recently reduced study.

The survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, which was based on news accounts of drive-by shootings from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2008, found there were 48 drive-by shootings in Florida in which someone was killed or injured. Only California (148) and Texas (60) had more.

In the Florida cases,  10 people were killed and and 42 were injured. The report did not break down the numbers by county or municipality.

Nationally, during the study period there were a total of 733 drive-by shootings, leaving 154 people dead and 631 people injured.

The study authors said they did Google searches to identify cases, so it is likely that the number of shootings was underreported. Still, the authors said theirs is the "most comprehensive analysis of its type."

You can read the report here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reports: Bandits make off with copper from A/C units in south Manatee


MANATEE — Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies are investigating a series of copper thefts from residences in the southern part of the county Saturday morning, according to incident reports.

There were eight reports of stolen copper parts taken from air-conditioning units from homes in the following locations: 7100 block of 24th Court East, and 2200 through 2300 blocks of 72nd Avenue East.

Deputies believe the copper was taken between just after midnight and 4:30 a.m.

Thieves often steal copper to redeem it for cash at scrap metal yards, authorities say. As a result the air-conditioning units are often damaged and require replacement.

Anyone with any information about the thefts can contact the sheriff’s office at 747-3011 or remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers at (866)634-TIPS (8477).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A few headlines from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office

With a little luck, a lot of witness cooperation and victim not afraid to get wet, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office overnight and this morning was busy catching criminal suspects in the act of committing suspected crimes.

Here are the stories:
Sheriff: Manatee homeowner, burglar tumble into pool during struggle

 2 arrested after Parrish residents report break-in try

 Sheriff’s K-9 bites fleeing Manatee teen

Vandals strike at least 40 mailboxes in Palmetto

PALMETTO — Vandals were busy over a two-week period, knocking down or damaging at least 40 free-standing mailboxes in the Palmetto Mobile Home Park, in the 1200 block of Eighth Avenue West.

The hooligans first struck July 1, destroying 14 mailboxes, then followed that with more attacks last Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, according to Palmetto Police Department reports.

“The kids use some of our streets to cut through to 10th Street,” said Bill Bowling, a longtime resident of the park. “We can’t control those accesses because they’re public streets.”

According to Gary Sawtelle, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, there is a federal criminal statute that provides for imprisonment and fines for willful destruction of mailboxes.

Lt. Scott Tyler said the department was investigating the incidents and asked that anyone with information to contact the Palmetto Police Department at 723-4587.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Manatee woman struck, killed in pedestrian accident

MANATEE — A Manatee woman walking on a dark roadway was struck and killed by a car in a crash early Sunday morning, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

Troopers say at 2:20 a.m. Sunday, the 19-year-old woman walked in front of a two-door Mitsubishi while trying to cross 301 Boulevard, west of Ninth Street East. The car’s right front fender hit the woman and she later died at Manatee Memorial Hospital of injuries suffered in the collision.

The FHP report said the woman, who has not yet been identified, was wearing dark clothing and the 21-year-old driver did not see her. No charges will be filed, deputies said.

-- Robert Napper

Friday, July 2, 2010

FHP will be out in full force this weekend

The Florida Highway Patrol will have maximum presence on the state's roadways this July 4th holiday weekend, Friday morning through midnight July 5.

The dates coincide with Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), a statewide traffic enforcement initiative that focuses on speeding, seat-belt and driving-under-the-influence violations. The campaign is part of a national program aimed at reducing the number of traffic crashes on interstate highways during holiday weekends.

“This initiative is part of a series of special enforcement efforts that help ensure the safety and well-being of motorists on Florida’s roadways,” said Colonel John Czernis, FHP director. “Our troopers will take appropriate enforcement action on those drivers who put themselves and others in danger. We want everyone to have a safe traveling experience in our state as they enjoy the holiday weekend.”

All uniformed FHP personnel, including those normally assigned to administrative duties, will patrol interstates and other major roadways during the four-day holiday period.

Read more in Saturday's edition of the Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

$95K reward for tips in Tampa police shootings

Via e-mail, the Tampa Police Department has released the following information about the reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect in the shooting deaths of two officers:
The reward for information leading to an arrest in the shooting deaths of the two Tampa police officers is now at $95,000. The FBI has put up $50,000 with the U.S. Marshal's Office putting up $10,000. Another $10,000 is from the Police Defense Fund, $5,000 from Crime Stoppers, $10,000 from the FOP (Fraternal Order of the Police) and the final from F.D.L.E. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement) at an addtional $10,000. Citizens are asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 873-TIPS with any information about the suspect.

Detectives have a warrant for the arrest of Dontae Morris. He is wanted on two counts of first degree murder and one count of felon in possession of a firearem.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Manatee's Most Wanted list has 3 new fugitives

Each Sunday, the Bradenton Herald publishes Manatee's most-wanted fugitives in the Local section, and here online. New to the fugitives' list this week:


DOB: 07/26/1977
5’9”, 200 lbs
Wanted: Failure to Notify DHSMV

DOB: 12/07/1979
6’2”, 200 lbs
Wanted: VOP Sale of Cocaine

DOB: 10/22/1971
5’9” / 240 lbs
Wanted: Aggravated Battery victim over 65

And arrested in the past week:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sarasota authorities looking for sex offender

SARASOTA - Sarasota County Sheriff's officials are searching for a registered sexual predator who has absconded from supervision.

Deputies are searching for Michael Ray Sharlow, 29, who had a last known address of 3471 Clark Road, Apt. 269, in Sarasota.

Sharlow is a registered sexual predator and is currently on probation under community control, according to sheriff's officials.

Deputies say Sharlow had a dispute with his roommate this week and Sharlow removed his monitoring bracelet and fled the scene. Detectives have obtained a warrant for his arrest.

Sharlow is 5 feet 11 inches tall, 215 pounds, with hazel eyes and a shaved head.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 941-861-4900 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS (8477). The public can also provide information online at or via text message by texting TIP109 plus a message to CRIMES (274637).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Manatee sheriff: Woman's kidnapping/bomb/bank robbery claims may be true

 A 47-year-old woman claiming to have a bomb attached to her body hands a note to the Manatee County Sheriff's Department's bomb robot in the parking lot of a Bank of America in Palmetto. (Photo: Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)
There is evidence that a woman who claims she was told by kidnappers that a bomb had been strapped to her back and to rob a bank or it would be detonated may be true, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office officials said today.

The 47-year-old woman caused a bomb scare  at about 5:40 p.m. Friday that shut down streets surrounding downtown Palmetto for hours, after she entered the Bank of America at 700 Eighth Ave. W., wrapped in chains with what turned out to be a fake explosive device strapped to her back.

Swarms of sheriff’s deputies and Palmetto police officers shut off much of downtown Palmetto as a bomb squad secured the area and found the device strapped to the woman to be fake.

But the investigation took a strange twist as the woman told detectives that she had been kidnapped, with her attackers throwing the chains on her and strapping the device to her back, before forcing her enter the bank to rob it, according to sheriff’s reports.

Sheriff’s spokesman Randy Warren declined to release her name saying the investigation is ongoing.

“Some of what she has told us has been found to be credible,” Warren said.

To see more photos from Friday's standoff, go here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ellenton ice rink robbery suspect arrested


ELLENTON — A 21-year-old man was arrested Thursday night after he allegedly robbed a man at gunpoint this week, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Christopher Edward Gayle, of Bradenton, was arrested on a warrant for armed robbery after he allegedly robbed a man of $700 in cash Tuesday night at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 5309 29th St. E., according to reports.

Gayle was located and arrested without incident by members of the Violent Crimes Task Force.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Manatee sheriff's PSA earns international honor

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has been named a winner in the 31th Annual TELLY Awards, an international film competition, it was announced this week.

The sheriff’s office Public Service Announcement, entitled “Lock Your Car,” was selected from nearly 14,000 entries from around the world. The 30-second spot was produced by the sheriff’s public information unit and features actors from The Manatee Players, who show how easy it is to become a victim of auto burglary.

The TELLY Awards honor local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the web.

To view this year’s award-winning PSA and other video projects, visit

Read more in Thursday’s edition of the Bradenton Herald.

Manatee sheriff makes arrest, incident reports available online

MANATEE - The Manatee County Sheriff's Office is now placing daily arrest and incident reports online giving residents more access to information on crime in their neighborhoods.

Each day the sheriff's office will be placing the reports on the agency's website, including incident reports which outline when and where something happened, the type of  incident, such as a robbery or burglary, and a short narrative on what happened.

Arrest reports will also be online which show a cover sheet with the name, date of birth, address and some personal information of the person arrested, followed by a second sheet known as a probable cause affidavit, or PCA, outlining when a crime occurred, where it happened, and a narrative on what occurred written by the arresting officer.

A PCA is turned into Manatee County jail booking upon all arrests, so arrest reports from the sheriff's office and all city police departments will be available for viewing.

The public can access the reports by going to, clicking on the public interest tab at the top of the page, then clicking on the public records link on the left side of the page. The reports will be online for seven days.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Manatee bicyclist robbed; three women arrested

MANATEE — A 38-year-old man out for a bicycle ride Sunday night got a little more than he bargained for.

Three women were arrested after the Manatee man was robbed of his bicycle and phone at around 9:25 p.m. in the 200 block of 60th Avenue Terrace West, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Kirsten Corbin, 24, and Jessica Sargent, 26, remained in Manatee County jail Sunday night on bonds of $20,000 and $10,000, respectively, according to the sheriff’s website. Kim Skoglund, 44, was released Sunday. They’re all facing robbery charges.

According to a sheriff’s report, it all started when the man stopped and got off his bike when he was approached by Corbin. She told him she was going to take his bike, and then started pulling on it. Sargent helped her get the bike from the man.

The man then told the two women he was calling the police, and took his phone from his pocket, but Corbin snatched the phone from his hand, and she and Sargent fled into a residence in the 200 block of 60th Avenue Terrace West, the report said.

The man knocked on the door, and Sargent told him through a window that he could get his bike back for $30; so he left and called authorities.

Sheriff’s deputies were shown the house and made contact with the suspects.
Skoglund gave consent to look inside the home, and the bike was located and suspects arrested. Skogland was arrested with the victim’s phone in her pocket, the report said.

The bike and phone were returned to the victim.

Sargent told investigators the man gave her the bike for sexual favors, the report said. He denied this and insisted it was a robbery.

-- Brent Conklin

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Manatee sheriff’s office employees honored

MANATEE — Three detectives and a dispatcher were recently honored as employees of the month of May at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives Jerome Diamond, Edward Foy and Stephen Ives were honored for their work on a homicide case resulting in the arrest of Delmer Smith III. Smith is accused of violently murdering Kathleen Briles, who was bludgeoned to death with a sewing machine in her Terra Ceia home Aug. 3, 2009, according to authorities.

Lee Harrington, who has been working as a dispatcher since November, was recognized for creating an employee database and simplifying other contact files.

-- Beth Burger

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bradenton officer named Officer of the Year by ASIS

Officer David Durrance of the Bradenton Police Department was named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Florida West Coast Chapter of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International.

He will be honored at an awards luncheon May 20 in Tampa.

The Bradenton Police Department nominated Durrance for his role in subduing an armed suspect on June 2.

Police had received an emergency call regarding an attempted bank robbery after a suspicious man was seen wearing gloves and pulling a bandana over his face outside the bank's front doors, according to authorities. His entry into the bank was thwarted by employees who locked the door after recognizing him as a suspect in recent armed bank robberies.

The suspect fled, but was tracked by Sgt. Curtis Johnson and Durrance of BPD’s Crimes Unit. They conducted a felony stop on 26th Street West.

As the officers approached the truck, the suspect grabbed a gun and aimed it at Johnson, authorities said. Durrance fired one shot from his service weapon into the torso of the suspect, causing him to drop the gun. He was taken to a hospital and has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and attempted armed robbery.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

BPD: Palmetto man eats cocaine, bites officer during arrest

MANATEE — A 31-year-old man was released from jail after he allegedly bit a Bradenton Police Department officer who was trying to remove a bag of cocaine from his mouth during an arrest, according to reports.

Christopher L. Hill, of Palmetto, was stopped in a car Thursday after he ran a stop sign at 13th Street West and 21st Avenue West, according to an arrest report.

Hill evaded a police officer before finally stopping in the 2100 block of Ninth Street West. When searching for weapons inside the vehicle, officers found an open can of Natural Ice and what appeared to be rock cocaine.

Inside Hill’s pocket were three bags of powder cocaine, the report stated.

In handcuffs, Hill lunged forward on to the hood of the car and “with his mouth started to suck and use his tongue to get all three baggies in his mouth,” according to the report.

Three officers struggled with Hill to remove the baggies, but he swallowed two of them, according to the report.

He managed to bite one officer on the hand and kick another, according to the report.

Hill later said “he was sorry and that he tried to get rid of the baggies because he is trying to change his life around,” according to the report.

Hill was convicted of fleeing to elude and cocaine possession in 2007, according to court records.

He now faces a total of 12 charges, including drug possession, destruction of evidence and battery on a law enforcement officer.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sons of American Revolution honor Bradenton police officer

A Bradenton Police officer has been honored for his actions in pursuit of an accused bank robber last year.

Officer David Durrance has been awarded the Medal for Heroism by the Saramana Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Durrance was honored April 9 for his role in subduing an armed man suspected of robbing the Gateway Bank branch at 2001 Manatee Ave. W. The suspect pulled a gun on a fellow police officer before Durrance shot him.

On June 2, the Bradenton Police Department received an emergency call regarding an attempted bank robbery. Bank employees had observed a man wearing gloves and pulling a bandana over his face as he stood outside the bank's front doors.

He tried to enter the bank but the doors were locked after employees recognized him as possible threat.

Durrance and other officers spotted the suspect as he fled. The officers conducted a traffic stop on 26th Street West.

As Durrance and another officer approached the truck, the driver grabbed a silver pistol and pointed it at the officers.

Durrance fired a shot from his service weapon into the torso of the man, causing him to drop the gun. The suspect was taken into custody transported to a local hospital.

Charles T. Kincaid Jr., age 66 of Sebring, Florida, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and attempted armed robbery. He is scheduled for trial next month.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Manatee sheriff: Burglar caught leaving scene of the crime

Terry Jay Yarger, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, never had a chance to enjoy the fruits of his illegal behavior.

Yarger, 29, was arrested by deputies at 12:45 p.m. Monday, moments after stepping out of a residence in the 800 block of 50th Avenue Terrace West. Deputies had gone there after a witness called 911 to report seeing someone - the sheriff's office says it was Yarger - entering the residence through a window.

"Yarger, unaware that deputies were outside of the residence, exited through the front door and was quickly apprehended," a sheriff's office news release states. "Property belonging to the victim was discovered on Yarger's person."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AG's CyberCrime operation nets 3 arrests in Manatee, 29 in Fla.

Bradenton and Sarasota police departments cooperated in "Operation Broken Heart" along with 13 other Tampa area agencies and the state attorney general's office in a six-week cybercrime operation. The operation resulted in 29 arrests, including one registered sex offender.

Read more:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Delivery driver robbed at gunpoint in Manatee

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cody Rogers charged with beating another inmate

MANATEE — A man awaiting sentencing for attempted armed robbery now faces a charge of battery after he allegedly beat another inmate, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

Cody Rogers, 20, is accused of battering an inmate at the jail March 22 after he and several others dragged another 20-year-old inmate into a cell, according to authorities who viewed video footage from the jail.

The inmate was tied up with bed sheets around his legs and hands, according to the arrest report, and when he started turning blue, he was untied and Rogers allegedly began beating him in the head and side.

When asked about his injuries, the inmate told officials he fell out of bed and hit his head, the report said. He later said the other inmates were, “playing around with him and trying to toughen him up,” according to the report.

Circuit Court Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. set Rogers’ bond at $1,500 Saturday morning on a charge of battery on a detained person.

Rogers is slated for sentencing April 26 for attempted armed robbery.

Rogers was connected to the murder of 19-year-old William White Jr. on July 13, 2008, during a botched robbery.

Rogers and 19-year-old Timothy Brooks, who is serving life on a charge for White’s murder, robbed White and his friend, Jakob Cunnien.

White and Cunnien drove to the 1600 block of 27th Avenue Drive East to buy marijuana when they encountered Brooks and Rogers, according to sheriff’s reports.

Rogers put a gun to Cunnien’s head, while Brooks put a gun to White’s head, reports said. After Brooks allegedly snatched a chain from White’s neck, Cunnien said he hit the gas pedal, reports said.

At the same time, Brooks fired a shot, hitting White in the neck, according to documents.

-- Beth Burger,

Friday, March 26, 2010

Deputy Tasers fleeing man

A Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputy shot a man with a Taser early this morning after he attempted to flee after being stopped for a traffic violation, according to the sheriff's office.

About 3 a.m., a deputy pulled David Harris over in the 5400 block of 14th Street West for driving without headlights on. When Harris stopped in the parking lot of an IHOP, he got out of the car and ran, according to a news release.

The deputy lost sight of the suspect and set up a perimeter.

A short time later, another deputy located Harris on 53rd Avenue East. When Harris tried to run, the deputy shot him with a Taser and arrested him, the sheriff's office said.

Harris, who faces charges of resisting arrest and driving without a license, was being held at the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $870.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Click It or Ticket leads to 6,550 seat belt citations

TALLAHASSEE --Florida Highway Patrol troopers issued 6,550 seat belt citations across the state during its Click It or Ticket campaign.

From March 1 through 15, FHP participated in the campaign to focused on drivers not wearing safety belts.

Overall, troopers issued 36,858 traffic citations during the 15-day period, including 311 DUI arrests and more than 10,000 speeding tickets. In Manatee County, 120 seat belt tickets were handed out, according to Lt. Chris Miller.

Florida implemented the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law on June 30, 2009, which allows law enforcement officers to stop and cite motorists who violate the law.

The law allows for the primary enforcement of Florida’s safety belt requirements, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates will save 124 lives and prevent more than 1,700 serious injuries in Florida annually.

“We are committed to educating motorists and enforcing Florida’s Safety Belt Law to ensure they buckle up,” said Czernis. “The Florida Highway Patrol will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement partners on such initiatives to pave the way to a safer Florida. The dedicated service and commitment to highway safety that our troopers exhibit makes a difference.”

Couple robbed at gunpoint inside motel

BRADENTON — A man in his 20s robbed a couple at gunpoint inside a motel room Wednesday night, according to the Bradenton Police Department.

The man, clad in all black, forced his way into a room at a motel at 2102 Ninth St. W. before demanding money from the woman at gunpoint. A few hundred dollars was taken just after 9 p.m.

No one was injured.

Police set up a perimeter and searched the area unable to locate the suspect.

Anyone with any information can contact Bradenton Police Detective Alex Ribachuk at 932-9309 or remain anonymous and possibly become eligible for a cash reward by calling Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS(8477).

-- Beth Burger

Monday, March 15, 2010

CourtTV in Bradenton for murder trial

Cynthia Monson

Jury selection began this morning for the murder trial of Cynthia Monson, accused of shooting to death her former lover Patricia Thomas on Jan. 17, 2009.

No explanation may be needed, considering the circumstances of the case, but a crew from CourtTV is in town to cover the trial.

Monson and Thomas had broken up about six months earlier, and at the time of the shooting at Monson's residence in the 6400 block of Second Avenue Northeast, they were reportedly arguing about the past, according to a spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Monson called 911 after the shooting.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Man accused of performing sex acts online

A 27-year-old man remained in jail Saturday night after he allegedly performed sex acts on himself several times in front of a Web cam when he thought a 14-year-old girl was watching, according to a recently released search warrant.

In reality, it was an undercover Citrus County Sheriff’s Office detective who viewed Jeffrey D. Wasik performing the acts from his Palmetto residence, according to the warrant.

The detective worked with local investigators at Manatee County Sheriff’s Office as part of the Central Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in building a case against Wasik.

Wasik contacted the detective 16 times using Yahoo Messenger beginning in September.

Approximately 10 out of the 16 online chat sessions were steered in a sexual nature by Wasik, according to the warrant.

Read more in Sunday's Herald.

-- Beth Burger

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

4 car burglaries at same apartment complex

There were four reported car burglaries late Tuesday through early Wednesday in an apartment complex at 34th Avenue Drive East, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

All four vehicles were entered by breaking a window, a report said, and it appeared as though the suspect or suspects placed an item in between the window and the door frame to cause the windows to shatter.

Personal property was taken from three of the four vehicles, according to the report.

No suspect information was available.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Manatee sheriff's officials looking for two alleged scammers



The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has issued a look-out for two alleged con men who have rented heavy equipment and turned around and pawned it. One of the suspects was convicted last year of running a similar scam.

Here is the sheriff's office news release, issued this morning:
Detectives continue to investigate two subjects involved in a rental scam. Adam Arena, DOB 7-23-73, and Daniel Hensley, DOB 10-5-60, have been involved in a scam where they rent heavy equipment and then pawn the equipment.

Arena was arrested last June and charged with multiple counts of theft. He is awaiting sentencing on these charges but was out of jail in between 9-28-09 and 2-3-10 when he arrested again for violation of probation.

Detectives believe he may have committed additional scams during the time he was out of jail. Authorities are searching for Hensley as he has an active warrant for Grand Theft and is a known associate of Arena.

Detectives are trying to determine if any Tampa Bay area rental companies have been recent victims of thefts of heavy equipment. Anyone with information is asked to call the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office at 941-747-3011, ext. 2506 or Crime Stoppers at 866-634-TIPS.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sarasota sheriff takes in 100 guns during event

Sarasota residents turned in more than 100 firearms on Saturday to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office as part of the agency's latest effort at providing a safe way to dispose of the weapons.

The gun turn-in event brought in 103 firearms in exchange for $50 gift certificates to various local businesses. It is the second such an event in Sarasota, with 250 weapons turned in during a similar operation in December. The weapons will all be destroyed, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Wendy Rose.

Last year, Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube held a gun buyback event in September in the wake of a wave of violence last year that resulted in the most homicides ever in Manatee.

In that event, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office took in 395 weapons and paid out $33,000 for them. The weapons bought during the operation were also destroyed.

--- Robert Napper

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Manatee deputies honored for fire rescues

MANATEE — Three Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies were honored this week for going into a burning residence and rescuing two elderly occupants and their pets.

An Exceptional Duty Commendation was presented to Michael Gerholdt, John Lawson and Bryce Meade by Southern Manatee Fire Rescue Fire Commissioners and Fire Chief Foster Gover in a ceremony Thursday night at the fire commissioners’ monthly meeting.

On Jan. 10, Gerholdt, Lawson and Meade pushed through heavy smoke to disconnect the woman from medical equipment, lift her off a bed and carry her to safety. Her husband and two cats were pulled to safety by the deputies shortly afterward.

Lawson and Meade required medical treatment for smoke inhalation before returning to work that night.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Citizen’s Police Academy in Palmetto

Palmetto Police Department has an upcoming Citizen’s Police Academy scheduled to start March 9.

The Academy will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday night from March 9 through April 27.

Academy participants will learn about the different units and operations at the police department, as well as take part in interactive demonstrations designed to get a better understanding of what it is like to be a police officer.

The Palmetto Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy is open to all City of Palmetto residents over 18 years old. Attendees must also pass a background check. The class size is limited to the first 12 applicants.

To apply or for more information, contact Lt.Scott Tyler at (941)723-4587, ext. 360.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Several women involved in Delmer Smith investigation

Accused murder suspect Delmer Smith III had a lot of women in his life during the time authorities say he attacked several women in their homes, and bludgeoned Kathleen Briles to death in her Terra Ceia home.

Investigators say the women had no knowledge of the crimes he is accused of, but they all became part of the investigation that led to Smith's arrest on murder, home invasion robbery, sexual battery and false imprisonment charges.

Smith, 38, a former federal inmate of 15 years for bank robbery, has been charged with attacking four women in their Sarasota homes, raping two, and killing Briles by hitting her in the head with a sewing machine during a home invasion robbery.

In the less than a year, four women had contact with Smith after authorities say Smith divorced a 61-year-old Bradenton woman he met as pen pal while in prison, and with whom he lived with here after his September 2008 release from prison.

But that only lasted two months as Smith began dating a woman he met who worked at a Bradenton Home Depot store, according to court records.

He quickly moved into the North Port home of the 37-year-old in November 2008 and they began a relationship.

As they lived together until August 2009, Smith began coming home with computers, iPods, a 50-inch television and other electronics, even though the girlfriend later told detectives she never saw Smith with a paycheck from jobs he claimed to have.

Meanwhile detectives began investigating a string of attacks in which as many as 11 women were severaly beaten and robbed in their homes between February and May. Then in August, Palmetto Dr. James Briles returned home to find his wife beaten to death in their living room.

Sometime during the relationship, Smith became romantically involved with another 37-year-old woman who lived on the same street as Smith's live-in girlfriend. The second relationship led to a pregnancy, and Smith's live-in girlfriend told detectives she kicked him out of her house in August.

Smith continued to date the woman pregnant with his child, and a third woman in the North Port area, but was soon arrested on Aug. 14 after a Venice bar fight.

Federal authorities arrested him for violating his probation and he began making calls to the women to empty out a storage bin filled with electronice and wepaons, court records show.

"I need you to go to storage, it's very important, there's something in there that shouldn't be," Smith told his girlfriend during a recorded phone call from jail.

The woman emptied the storage bin, but later called authorities and told them of the items, which were later found to include laptops stolen during four violent home invasion attacks, and items stolen from the Briles home. Detectives also found Smith's DNA in the homes where the four attacks took place, according to records.

Smith was found to have been living in the Capri Isles condominium of a fourth woman at the time of his arrest. All four women have been questioned and cooperated with authorities during the investigation into Smith.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Facts and figures about Florida's death penalty

If Martin Edward Grossman is put to death tonight, as scheduled, his will be the 69th execution in Florida since 1979, when the practice was resumed in the state, and the first since Feb. 11, 2009, when John R. Marek was given a lethal injection.

Here are a few more facts about the death penalty in Florida, as taken from the death row section of the Florida Department of Corrections Web site:
- Grossman would be the fourth person convicted in Pinellas County to be executed since 1979. The most recent execution of an inmate convicted in Pinellas was Amos King, on Feb. 26, 2003.

- King also spent the most time on death row before being executed -- 25.62 years.

- No one convicted in Manatee or Sarasota has been executed since 1979.

- The counties that have seen the most prisoners executed are Duval, with nine; and Miami-Dade and Orange, with eight each.

- There are currently 395 inmates on Florida's death row, including three convicted in Manatee - Melvin Trotter, Daniel Burns and Blaine Ross - and seven convicted in Sarasota - Jerry Correll, Emanuel Johnson, Ernest Whitfield, Robert Trease, John Troy, Joseph Smith and Michael King. (There currently is an active death warrant for Trease, but an execution date has not been set.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sheriff seeking tips on Smith's whereabouts after Briles was killed

MANATEE — Delmer Smith III was in the Oneco area immediately after Kathleen Briles was killed in her Terra Ceia home last summer, and sheriff’s investigators hope someone knows what he was doing, an official said today.

Smith has been served with a warrant charging him with murder in the Aug. 3 death of Briles.
Detectives said Smith, 38, bludgeoned her to death with an iron antique sewing machine during a burglary.

“We believe he was in the area of 15th Street East and 53rd Avenue East after the homicide, in the Oneco area,” said Dave Bristow, a spokesman for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. “We believe he was there approximately two hours.”

“We want to know what he was doing, who he was with, anything informational. There’s still a reward of $50,000 on the table,” Bristow said.

Investigators think Smith was in the area from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 3, Bristow said.

The Briles' son, Calvin, also urged anyone to come forward during an interview with the Bradenton Herald. He also pointed to the fact that Smith is being held in the Sarasota County jail without bond.

"You can do it anonymously, or if not, people should not be scared. He is not getting out of jail anytime soon," Calvin Briles said.

Anyone with information can call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011 or to remain anonymous, they can call the sheriff’s office tip line at (866) 634-8477, he said.

--- Sara Kennedy and Robert Napper

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Video of news conference on arrest of Delmer Smith III

Here's the video from Thursday's news conference on the arrest of Delmer Smith III in the Aug. 3 slaying of Kathleen Briles.

Commenting are Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube and Briles' widower, Dr. James Briles.

Dr. Briles says man charged with killing his wife is a 'coward'

MANATEE – Dr. James Briles called the man authorities say bludgeoned his wife to death with a sewing machine during a home invasion burglary a “coward,” during a press conference announcing the arrest of Delmer Smith on a murder charge .

Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube told a room full of media of Smith’s arrest, before Briles spoke on behalf of two of their three children who attended the press conference. One of the Briles sons is in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq.

“Let me say a little bit about Delmer Smith,” Briles said. “He is a coward, a sociopath and a punk. His sole purpose is to inflict suffering.”

Briles went on to say Smith deserves “no quarter,” and that he is not only in jail to protect the public from him, but to “protect him from us.” He spoke of his anger, and the horrifying discovery of his wife, beaten to death and gagged on the living room floor of their Terra Ceia home.

“Am I angry? Oh yeah,” he said. “You’d understand that if you saw what I saw when I came home.”

When a television reporter asked family members if Smith’s arrest had brought any closure, Briles’ daughter emphatically said no.

“I am sad for my mother, I am sad for my family, and I am sorry we live in a society with people this bad,” said Kristin Venema.

Reports: Intruder used sewing machine to kill Briles

An affidavit Manatee County Sheriff's Office investigators filed to obtain a warrant charging Delmer Smith III in the slaying of Kathleen Briles describes in gruesome detail what detectives found when they arrived ah her Terra Ceia home on Aug. 4.
On August 3rd, 2009, Kathleen Briles was found deceased in her home by her spouse. Her spouse Dr. James Briles attempted to reach her via cell phone at 1936 hours, but the phone went unanswered. He arrived home at 1950 hours and discovered her body bound, hands and feet, as well as her mouth gagged. It appeared she had also been struck about her head with a cast iron antique sewing machine which was subsequently found to have caused her death.

The initiation of this investigation disclosed BRILES was last seen alive at the Publix Store in Palmetto, Florida, where she checked out after a grocery purchase at 1536 hours. On test drives, investigation revealed that it should have have taken her approximately six and a half (6.5) minutes to drive home.
The affidavit also details how investigators built their case against Smith, namely by tracing items taken from the Briles home to a storage locker kept by the suspect.

Detectives also used his cell phone against him:
Delmer SMITH was developed as a person of interest and that he had a cellular phone, which the number was obtained and a search initiated to find his whereabouts during the time frame of this incident. It was discovered he used his phone at 1544 hours on August 3rd, 2009 for eight (8) seconds and his signal was recorded off of tower number 304 located at 910 77th Street East, Rubonia, Florida, which is 1.2 miles from the victim's home. Further investigation disclosed that the phone owned by Delmer Smith activated the southwest receiver on this cell phone tower in a direct line with the crime scene.

Sheriff : Delmer Smith killed Kathleen Briles

Dr. James and Kathleen Briles

Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube just told Bradenton Herald reporter Robert Napper that his investigators have charged Delmer Smith, a suspect in several home invasion attacks in Manatee and Sarasota, with killing Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home last August.

Read the story here.

Here's a timeline in the case:
Feb. 22, 2009 – Officials first recover the DNA of a man who attacked a Sarasota woman in her home.

April 28 – The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office announces that that evidence matches DNA found at the scene of another home invasion attack. Investigators, however, are not able to identify who the DNA belongs to.

Aug. 3 – Palmetto Dr. James Briles finds his wife beaten to death and bound in their Terra Ceia living room. According to sheriff's reports, she was killed by a blow to the head by a sewing machine.

Oct. 5 – Sarasota sheriff’s officials announce the arrest Delmer Smith III in four invasions in which several women were beaten, and two raped. Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight also announceds that Smith is a former convicted felon and the FBI had his DNA throughout the attacks.

Oct. 6 – A Bradenton Herald investigation reveals Smith’s DNA had not been entered into a federal database due a backlog at the FBI's laboratory.

Oct. 21 – Dr. Briles make a public plea for information on the killing of his wife.A $50,000 reward is offered for any information that leads to an arrest.

Feb. 11 - Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube announces that Smith is being charged with killing Kathleen Briles. He said items found in a storage bin used by Smith were taken from her home during the attack.

Source: Bradenton Herald archives.

Man robbed twice in less than a week by same suspects

MANATEE – A man has been robbed twice by the same four suspects in less than a week, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report.

The victim, who told deputies he resides behind El Paisano, 5803 15th St. E., in one of the warehouses, was retrieving his bicycle late Wednesday when two men and two women pulled up in an unknown vehicle and pushed him down. According to the report, they stole cash, a brown leather wallet and two bicycle lights the victim said he had just purchased.

During the investigation, the victim told deputies that the same suspects beat him with a stick and punched him late Saturday night in the 1400 block of 57th Avenue East, the report said. In that incident, the suspects stole cash and the victim sustained a cut to his mouth. He did not seek medical attention.

One of the male suspects was said to be wearing a red-and-white checkered jacket, while the other had blond, curly hair.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Anti-child abuse agency offers tips for better parenting

Leonard Payne Sr. reportedly told Manatee County Sheriff's Office investigator that he beat his 9-year-old son with a piece of a plastic toy after the child tried to rub his feces on his younger brother.

Payne, he told detectives, "wanted to teach him a lesson," according to a sheriff's office report.

If true - and Payne, like others arrested by law enforcement, is presumed innocent - perhaps it was Payne who needed to be taught a few lessons on how to be a better parent.

Manatee Children's Services
, a local non profit that aims to break the cycle of child abuse in the county, offers a Top 10 list that Payne and other parents can follow:
Be a role model.

Spend time with your children.

Praise your children.

Show affection.

Be a teacher.

Respect your children.

Listen to your children.

Discipline with love.

Realize your job is never done.

Ask for help.

--- Marc R. Masferrer

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photos from Myakka City homicide scene

An argument over a goat may have cost a 43-year-old man his life on Tuesday, after a family squabble blew up into gun play at his home east of Myakka City, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Here are a few photos from the crime scene, from the Bradenton Herald's Paul Videla.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Web site: 184 have died after jumping from Skyway since '57

According to an unofficial - albeit comprehensive, if somewhat uncomfortable-t0-read - Web site, Amber Rose Syme on Monday morning became the first person in 2010 confirmed to have jumped to her death off the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Here's the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office's account of what happened:
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in reference to an individual that had jumped off the bridge. Investigation revealed that the victim, Amber Syme parked her Kia on the center span, walked over to the rail and jumped.

Her body was recovered by authorities from St. Petersburg and the body was then turned over to the Medical Examiners Office.
Additional details, as provided by passing motorists and others, are available at Skyway Jumper Pool, a self-described "irreverent" repository of information about the Skyway's appeal to too many people looking to end their lives.

According to the site, Syme was the 184th person since 1957 to commit suicide off the Skyway or its predecessor. Another 30 jumpers have been rescued after hitting the water.

Syme would have turned 29 on April 13.

--- Marc R. Masferrer

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Driver eludes Manatee deputies

MANATEE — Deputies followed a white Chevy Caprice after it came back with a stolen tag Thursday night on 24th Street West, according to authorities.

The vehicle did not crash and no one was injured after it was stopped inside Parkway Villas on Coral Way. The driver, and possibly another person, fled from the car.

Deputies searched the area and could not locate the driver at about 9 p.m. Thursday. Deputies observed the same vehicle with a different stolen tag the night before with as many as four occupants, according to authorities.

Anyone with any information can contact the sheriff’s office at 747-3011 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

-- Beth Burger,

Some advice for Super Bowl Sunday

If you plan to drink on Super Bowl Sunday, don’t forget to designate a sober driver.

That’s the advice of Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, who has joined forces with the National Football League, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other state and local highway safety and law enforcement agencies to remind everyone to act responsibly this weekend.

“Super Bowl Sunday is one of America’s biggest national sporting events as people gather to watch the big game,” Knight said. “Yet, it is also one of the nation’s most dangerous days on the roadways due to impaired driving.”

Hosting a Super Bowl party?

Knight offers these tips:

• Remember, hosts can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you served ends up in an impaired driving crash.

• Make sure guests designate sober drivers in advance, or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers.

• Serve lots of food and offer lots of nonalcoholic beverages.

• Keep numbers for local cab companies handy, and take keys away from anyone who is thinking of driving impaired.

If you are attending a Super Bowl party:

• Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast.

• If you drink too much, find a sober driver.

• Regardless of whether or not you drink, if you’re going to be on the road after the game, buckle up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Police: Look out for fake Bright House employees

Bradenton Police are currently investigating two separate incidents involving men who identify themselves to resident as Bright House Network employees and tell them they have come to conduct “quality service” or a “service call," according to a news release.

The first reported incident occurred at the Perico Apartments, 11000 Manatee Ave. W., at 9 p.m. Jan. 13. During this incident a man described as being in his 20’s, standing 5 feet, 7 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighing 150 to 170 pounds with black hair (short on the sides and back, thicker on top), and wearinga dark blue zip-up jacket and blue jeans, knocked on the apartment door and stated that he was Bright House, officials said.

The female resident, speaking through the door and observing through the peephole, requested to see the man's identification. He quickly turned and walked away. She confirmed then with Bright House that they had no technician in the area and was told to call the police.

The second incident occurred at a residence in the 6900 block of Heritage Lane at 8 p.m. Jan. 19. During this incident a man knocked on the door and told the female resident that he was with Bright House and was there for a service call. The man quickly fled when the female resident told him that they did not have Bright House service at the residence, according to police. No description of the man was provided.

Bradenton Police urged resident to use simple precautions to safe guard their lives and property. Police recommend that you conduct conversations with unknown visitors throug” a closed door or window. Demand to be shown official identification which includes a photo of the person. Contact the company or business represented by the person for verification of the visit.

If you have anyone posing as a Bright House employee or any other type of service provider who flees when confronted with identifying themselves, call 911 immediately. Without opening your door, try to get the best description possible and a direction and method of travel.

Anyone having information about these incidents can call Bradenton Police Department Detective Nasario Camacho at (941) 932-9312, the Bradenton Police Department at (941) 932-9300 or to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000, call Crime Stoppers (toll free)at 1-866-634-8477 (TIPS) or send an anonymous eTip thru the Web at

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bradenton police officer to be honored for saving motorist

Officer Danny Bench

Quick action by a Bradenton police officer last month saved the life of a motorist, and has earned him one of the department's top honors.

Here's the news release from the department:
Master Patrol Officer Danny Bench of the Bradenton Police Department will be presented with the Medal of Merit for his role in saving the life of a man who suffered a heart attack.

The Medal of Merit is the police department’s third-highest honor.

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, a 69-year-old man was driving westbound in the 2500 block of Manatee Avenue West around 9:30 p.m. when he suffered a heart attack, causing him to lose control of his vehicle, which crashed through a hedge surrounding a parking lot and into a concrete support pole.

Witnesses rushed to the scene and called 911. The Bradenton Police Department Dispatch Center immediately put the call over the police radio advising of a crash with an unresponsive driver.

Master Patrol Officer Bench had just finished an off-duty security detail and was on his way home when the call went out. He was a block away from the crash scene at the time and was the first emergency responder to arrive on scene. He approached the vehicle and observed that the driver was in fact unresponsive and confirmed that the driver had no pulse.

MPO Bench then pulled the driver from the vehicle and called for Emergency Medical Service assistance and initiated CPR. MPO Bench continued administering CPR until paramedics arrived and took over. Paramedics continued working on the driver as they transported him to Manatee Memorial Hospital. Once there, the medical staff was able to resuscitate him and stabilize his condition to the point where he was breathing on his own.

The actions of MPO Bench exemplify the highest tradition and professional standards of the Bradenton Police Department.

MPO Bench has served with the Bradenton Police Department since 1998. He is currently assigned to the School Resource Officer program.

Friday, January 29, 2010

On run for 18 years, convicted sex offender caught

A convicted sex offender on the run for 18 years was arrested Thursday, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

Michael Cherry, 48, was apprehended in in Washington, D.C., due to the joint efforts of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Fugitive Apprehension Unit and the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.

The two agencies have been sharing leads and information and yesterday took Cherry into custody after detectives confirmed he was living in a home on Wylie Street in the nation’s capitol.

Cherry was found hiding under a bed and then tried to provide false identification before ultimately admitting to being the wanted man.

Cherry was convicted of committing a lewd, lascivious or indecent assault on a 14-year-old girl and sentenced to five years probation, but fled in 1992.

He was arrested for violation of probation and will be brought back to Sarasota County.

Sheriff: Man shoots self in hand, gets arrested

MANATEE - A 22-year-old man shot accidentally shot himself in hand this morning, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

And Shaun R. Dewitt's day got worse when sheriff's deputies called to the hospital arrested him on two charges of violating a previous probation.

Shaun R. Dewitt was unloading his gun about 7:15 a.m. when it discharged, striking him in the left hand. Dewitt was in his apartment at the Cielo Apartments, 6904 Manatee Ave. W.

He was treated at Manatee Memorial Hospital, before being taken to jail.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

3 Manatee deputies honored for saving couple and cats from fire

Three Manatee County sheriff's deputies - Bryce Meade, John Lawson and Michael Gerholdt - this morning were honored for their roles in saving an elderly couple and their cats from an East Manatee house fire on Jan. 10.

Sheriff Brad Steube describes why they are not only January's Deputies of the Month, but also the recipeints of Distinguished Service Awards:
On the night of January 10th, 2010, Deputy Bryce Meade and Deputy John Lawson responded to a residence for an abandoned 911 call. Upon their arrival, they immediately observed a structure fire with flames and heavy smoke coming from inside. They yelled for anyone inside and a faint voice responded. Both deputies entered the residence and located a paralyzed elderly woman lying in a burning hospital bed and connected to medical tubes and wires. As Deputy Lawson was carrying the woman outside, the woman indicated that her husband and cats were still inside the residence. Deputy Meade went outside for a breath of fresh air and returned inside to find the man attempting to extinguish the fire. The man did not want to leave his residence, but she was able to remove him away from danger. Deputy Michael Gerholdt entered the residence and rescued the couple’s two cats before the fire consumed the home.

Deputy Meade, Lawson and Gerholdt risked their own personal safety and demonstrated teamwork and extraordinary bravery to prevent the loss of lives, for which they are awarded Deputy of the Month for January 2010 and the Distinguished Service Award.

2 gunmen rob Peggy's Corral

Two gunmen this morning robbed Peggy's Corral north of Palmetto. (File photo)

Most people are likely to comply with a demand delivered by a man with a gun to your face, but early this morning that wasn't enough for some patrons at Peggy's Corral to change what they were doing when two men robbed the biker bar on U.S. 41 north of Palmetto.

About 1:50 a.m., two armed men entered the bar and ordered everyone inside down on the ground. Two patrons did just that, but four others remained sitting at the bar, according to a news release from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

One of the gunmen grabbed cash from the register and a tip jar. The other went to the office area and caused a video recorder to fall to the ground.

Four minutes after the robbery started, the suspects were gone, fleeing south through the parking lot and into a white Pontiac Grand Am, with license tag possibly starting with "AS."

No one was injured.

The suspects, who were each carrying handguns, were described as being in their late teens. One was dressed in all dark clothes, including a hoodie. The other was wearing a white T-shirt, dark shorts and a dark beanie-type cap, according to the sheriff's office.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Missing woman's parents draw 2,000 to safety event

In Sunday's editions, reporter Beth Burger examined the case of Jennifer Kesse, who disappeared exactly four years ago. Jennifer, a 24-year-old financial analyst, left her Orlando home on Jan 24, 2006, to go to work and has not been seen since.

Beth wrote of how Jennifer's parents, Drew and Joyce Kesse of Bradenton, have turned their vehicles into mobile billboards with images of Jennifer and phone numbers, hit the national television circuit, and started a Web site flooded with images of her and information about her case.

Each year, the Kesses hold an event in Orlando to educate the public about safety and collect other items such as blood and supplies for emergencies. This year's was Saturday night, and Drew Kesse e-mailed Beth the results:

500 fingerprinted, 35 pints of blood, 6 DNA swabbed for missing children in Orlando, cell phones, food and clothing collection filled an SUV. approx 2,000 people attended. did 3 life searches with dogs for crowd worked every time. It was all amazing and more than we could have asked for!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Red-light running sting results

Twenty-five traffic citations were doled out by the Traffic Enforcement Unit of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office on Thursday during a "Red Light Running" detail at 53rd Avenue West and 26th Street West in Bradenton.

Citations were issued for assorted violations such as red light running, seat belt violations and loud stereos. There also were two arrests for driving with a suspended or no drivers license.

The detail was from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cable TV imposters knocking on doors

BRADENTONBradenton Police are investigating two separate incidents involving men who identified themselves as Bright House Networks employees and announced they were conducting "quality service" or a "service call."

The first reported incident occurred at Perico Apartments, 11000 Manatee Ave. W. at 9 p.m. Jan. 13. A female resident, speaking through the door and looking through the peephole, requested to see identification. The male quickly turned and walked away. She confirmed with Bright House that it had not sent a technician to her apartment, according to Bradenton Police.

A similar incident was reported at a residence in the 6900 block of Heritage Lane at 8 p.m. Jan. 19. The impostor quickly fled when the female resident told him that she didn’t have Bright House service.

Bradenton Police urge citizens to conduct conversations with unknown visitors through a closed door or a window.

Residents should also demand to see official identification that includes a photo of the person.
Anyone having information on these incidents is asked to call Detective Nasario Camacho at (941) 932-9312 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers (866) 634-TIPS (8477).

Man arrested after sex act with girl

MANATEE — A 34-year-old Ellenton man remained in jail Wednesday night after he was charged with sexually battering a girl, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

Ronald Thomas is being held on $500,000 bond after he allegedly pushed and groped a girl and performed a sex act on her in an apartment complex last month.

Thomas was arrested Monday afternoon in the 1200 block of U.S. 301 N in Palmetto, according to reports.

Man accused of stealing from 93 year old

MANATEE — An Anna Maria man is accused of taking thousands of dollars from a 93-year-old woman by taking account starter checks totaling $7,000 and charging more than $12,000 to a credit card, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

Phi D. Tran, who met the woman when he was working as an oxygen supplier, befriended her and began visiting her on a regular basis, according to reports. The transactions took place a few years ago and Tran told investigators he planned to pay back the money.

The woman’s granddaughter notified authorities about the transactions.

On Monday, Tran posted a $5,000 bond after he was charged with elderly exploitation, forgery and grand theft.

Sheriff's office looking for 4 suspects in kidnapping try

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office was looking for four men who investigators say attacked and tried to kidnap another man. Several gunshots were fired during the incident.

About 8:20 a.m., the 21-year-old victim was standing in the 3200 block of Canal Road in Palmetto when the suspects drove up in a early 1990s dark green Honda Civic.

Two of the suspects got out and asked the victim how much a truck on the side of the road was selling for. The victim said he did not know.

At that point, one of the suspects began fighting with the victim and ordering him into the vehicle. The victim was fighting back when a second suspect hit him on the back of the head with a handgun and fired three shots into the air, according to a sheriff's office news release.

The victim was able to get away by fleeing towards his nearby residence, and suspects fled north on Canal Road.

The victim suffered minor injuries, according to the sheriff's office.