September 2, 2014

Clean up this week

Don't Forget:
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.

Georgia man dies while diving

A 59 year old man from Tifton, Georgia died while diving offshore of the Spanish Harbor Bridge Monday.

Larry Rowan was on a private vessel with his brother-in-law and a friend. They reportedly visit the Keys regularly to dive for lobster.

The three went into the water about 1:30 p.m. Monday and separated, all going their own way. At about 3:15 p.m. the other two divers returned to the boat assuming Rowan had already returned.

They found no evidence he had returned, either to drop off lobster or to retrieve another dive tank. After looking for him for a short time, they called the Coast Guard for assistance. The Coast Guard searched by air and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission searched by boat. At about 4:30 p.m. his body was found.


Rowan still had all his dive gear on, and there was no sign of injury on his body. An autopsy will be done to determine the cause of his death.

September 1, 2014

Woman charged with violent fight with officer

A 33 year old Tavernier woman was arrested after she fought violently with an officer trying to arrest her for disorderly intoxication.

Deputy Michael Claudy was at the Circle K convenience store at the 92 mile marker at 3 a.m. today when he saw two women in a confrontation in the parking lot. He separated the two in an attempt to avoid an escalation. 33 year old Sara Henderson, who was obviously intoxicated, refused to calm down, however and continued to yell loudly and attempt to attack the other woman who told the officer she was just trying to calm Henderson when the altercation took place.

Deputy Claudy warned her numerous times to stop yelling or he would arrest her for disorderly intoxication. She then began to yell at both the other woman and Deputy Claudy.

Deputy Claudy finally told her she was under arrest and attempted to place her in handcuffs. She pulled away and began to fight, knocking Deputy Claudy’s radio microphone off of his shirt so he could not call for back up officers to assist. She began kicking him violently as he tried to reach his microphone to call for help. He used his pepper spray, spraying her in the face. As he again tried to reach for his microphone, she rubbed her hands on her face and then rubbed pepper spray on Deputy Claudy’s face thus impeding his ability to see well.

He was finally able to reach his microphone and call for help. He managed to hold her on the ground until backup officers arrived. She was taken into custody without further incident.

The other woman on the scene attempted to assist the officer during his struggle, and helped him to rinse the pepper spray from his eyes afterward.

At Mariner’s Hospital, Henderson told the emergency room staff that she purposefully rubbed the pepper spray into the deputy’s eyes. Deputy Claudy did sustain an injury to one eye which will require follow up treatment.

Henderson was charged with disorderly intoxication, battery on a law enforcement officer, depriving an officer of his means of communication and resisting arrest with violence. She was booked into jail.

Accident leads to auto theft, other charges

The suspect in a reckless driving report was arrested after he crashed the stolen vehicle he was driving into a boat on Stock Island.

24 year old Daryl Burgess of Stock Island now faces charges by the Sheriff’s Office and Key West Police.

On August 30th at 5:37 a.m., dispatchers received a report of a white Jeep Cherokee driving on Maloney Avenue swerving, with no headlights on. Deputy John Gabay was in the vicinity and spotted the vehicle exiting Ocean Spray Trailer Park. He pulled up next to the Jeep and shined his spotlight inside. The white male driver looked at the deputy, then took off, heading back up Maloney Avenue toward the highway.

Deputy Gabay turned on his lights and siren in an attempt to stop the Jeep, which sped up and made a left on 4th Avenue. It swerved several times, then swerved again to avoid a collision with a garbage truck. The Jeep then lost control, running across lanes of traffic and hitting a boat parked on a trailer beside the road.

Burgess was injured in the accident and was taken to the hospital. A check on the vehicle’s license tag revealed the vehicle did not belong to Burgess. In addition, Burgess’ license had been suspended in 2006 for a DUI arrest.

Deputy Matt Dowling responded to the hospital to continue an investigation there. He searched Burgess’ pockets to make sure he had no weapons he could injure anyone with. In his pockets Burgess had a camera, a pink Ipod and an insurance card not in his name. The insurance card belonged to a woman who lives on Fogarty Avenue in the city of Key West.

Deputy Dowling later met with Key West Police at the Fogarty Avenue address. KWPD investigations reportedly revealed the camera and Ipod were stolen from a Honda Accord parked at that address.

Burgess was airlifted to a Miami hospital the night of the accident  for treatment of possible internal injuries, but was released from the hospital the next day. He was charged by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office with reckless driving with damage to property, fleeing and eluding police and with driving with his license suspended. He also faces multiple charges by Key West Police.

Last of three home invasion robbery suspects arrested

The last of three suspects in a home invasion robbery on Grassy Key in May was picked up in Kansas City, Missouri on August 11th.  24 year old Joseph Van Buren of Big Pine Key was returned to the Florida Keys on August 30th were he faces charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, use of a weapon in commission of a felony, improper exhibition of a firearm, discharging a firearm in public, criminal mischief, home invasion robbery and tampering with evidence.

The other two men charged in connection with the crime were arrested earlier in August: 22 year old Russell Kane of Little Torch Key and 24 year old Matthew Storm of Marathon.

The drug related crime took place on May 27th in the early morning hours. All three suspects were armed with handguns. During the robbery, one man was shot in the leg, and more shots were fired in and around the house where the crime took place. The suspects stolen heroin and cocaine from the house. The victim of the robbery, 40 year old Robert Moir, was arrested August 4th on heroin and cocaine related charges after an undercover drug surveillance operation led to a search warrant on his residence.

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!