Local News

News Cast 2/1

News Cast for February 1st:

It took just over five hours but an Okeechobee County Court jury finally delivered a verdict yesterday against an Okeechobee man who was on trial for a host of offenses, including first degree murder. 49 year old Mark Glen Deschamps was found guilty of manslaughter and aggravated assault with a firearm in the stabbing death of his then girlfriend, 25 year old Flavia Munoz of Okeechobee and aggravated battery against 40 year old Duane Thomas of Okeechobee, the man Munoz was seeing behind Deschamps’ back in October of 2016. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says he’s “relieved” the jury found Deschamps guilty, even though the charges were lesser than what he originally wanted Deschamps convicted of committing. While he respects the jury’s verdict, he is somewhat disappointed. The trial, which began Tuesday, was originally set to begin last month but an issue with a juror forced a mistrial. Sentencing will take place likely sometime in the next month or so. Neither Donald Chinquina, Deschamps’ attorney, nor any of Munoz’s family members wished to comment for this story.

Albright-Deschamps Verdict 1

Albright-Deschamps Verdict 2

The residents of the city of Sebring are slowly recovering from the tragedy at the SunTrust bank last week where a gunman walked into one of the bank’s branches on the 19 hundred block of US Highway 27 South and shot and killed five women, four of them being bank employees. Highland County Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says the town is slowly getting back to normal but there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Meanwhile, there are fundraising efforts being started around the county to help with the healing, including a GoFundMe account for one of the victims, 37 year old Ana Pinon-Williams, a SunTrust Bank Employee and former resident of Okeechobee and Sebring. Dressel says employees of Advent Health have started a fundraiser of their own. The suspect in the shooting, 21 year old Zephan Alan Xaver of Sebring remains in county jail without bond as the investigation continues. To donate to Ana Pinon-Williams’ GoFundMe account, log on to www.gofundme.com/ana-pinonwilliams-family-fund-suntrust-victim.

Dressel-SunTrust Fundraisers

Okeechobee County firefighters had a call of a fire to a transformer to contend with on Wednesday afternoon. Crews were called to the 33 hundred block of SE 33rd Terrace shortly before 5:30 and found the fire had been extinguished already but the transformer had no power. Firefighters searched the area for downed power lines but there were none. Officials from Century Link were called to the scene and the damage to the transformer was severe enough that firefighters remained at the scene until Florida Power and Light (FPL) crews arrived. No one was hurt and no structure damages reported. The incident is under investigation.

A Fort Pierce man will be spending some time in prison after pleading guilty to making ISIS related threats. A Miami area court judge sentenced 28 year old Charlton Edward LaChase to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of transmitting threats through interstate or foreign commerce. According to court records, LaChase sent text messages professing his support for ISIS, committing acts of terrorism and mass murder. Searches through his Facebook account revealed several attempts by LaChase to purchase firearms, threats to commit mass murder, kill politicians and statements supporting ISIS. After serving his prison sentence, LaChase will be under supervised release for the next three years.

On the arrest report:

60 year old Darris Dale Mills of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for disorderly intoxication. His bond is set at $250 dollars.

33 year old Jennifer Ann Green of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving and serious bodily injury to another from an accident in November. She was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

27 year old Lucas Allen Peoples of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a three thousand dollar bond.

22 year old Nashaly De Jesus Torres of Okeechobee was arrested for marijuana possession and tampering with evidence after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.


Super Hero 5K on 3/2/19

Check out this 5K Opportunity to Run/Walk: sponsored by National Honor Society @ OHS!

All proceeds will fund the End the Hunger program that sends food home with students in need so they do not go without at night or on the weekends!

Here’s your chance! Be the Super Hero you always knew you were!

Be a Hero!

Run to End Hunger

Where: Agri-Civic Center

When: Saturday, March 2, 2019

Time: Check-in/registration at 6:45am

Sponsor: End the Hunger Backpack Program @ OHS/NHS (for additional information, contact Wendy Reister at OHS)

Race starts at 8:00am

Link to register:

https://goo.gl/forms/GbAIOPPtCo5i4iEp2

Dress like your Favorite Superhero    for a chance to win a prize!

**prizes will be awarded before the race, Best Costume Competition at 7:40 am

Prizes will be awarded for multiple age groups: adult through children!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfvPDfNVt-30hfaoQXeB17kSvER6ytGFH4UkR8XJEon_rk2gg/viewform


News Cast 1/31

News Cast for January 31st:

Officials from the Sebring Police Department and Highlands County Sheriff’s Department say the man being held in connection with the shooting deaths of five women at SunTrust Bank on the 19 hundred block of US Highway 27 South in Sebring last week purchased a weapon a few days before the incident. Highlands County Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says 21 year old Zephen Alan Xaver purchased a nine millimeter handgun and ammunition days before January 23rd when he went into the bank and shot five women, four of whom were bank employees. Xaver’s background says he had dreams of killing his fellow high school students before being sent to a behavioral center for treatment and after leaving the facility, Xaver had those dreams again. Dressel says Xaver probably lied about that when purchasing the firearm and there’s not much that could’ve been done. Xaver remains in county jail and he’s being held without bond. Ballistic testing is being done to determine if the gun Xaver purchased is the one he used in the shootings.

Dressel-Xaver Handgun Purchase 1

Dressel-Xaver Handgun Purchase 2

The Okeechobee High School (OHS) men’s basketball game this past Tuesday night featured the return of a familiar face to the team’s bench. Coach Demetre Riles returned to coach the Brahmans for the first time in nearly two months and led them to their 16th win of the season, a 76-33 trouncing of Lake Placid. Riles’ return to coaching made him “feel good to be back in the swing of things,” and while he missed his players, he also missed the whole game experience. Riles stepped down from coaching on December 7th to devote more time to his family, specifically to his wife, Ronda, who was battling cancer. Ronda Riles unfortunately lost her battle with the disease on December 21st. Athletic Director Kenny Buckner coached the team in Riles’ absence.

Riles Return 1

Riles Return 2

An Okeechobee woman is facing some serious drug charges following a traffic stop Tuesday evening. Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Buick passenger car, driven by 33 year old Argelia Torres-Rojas, on the 57 hundred block of SE 86th Boulevard a little before six o’clock for speeding. As deputies were gathering Torres-Rojas’ driver’s license and registration, she would not make eye contact and appeared very nervous. A K-9 unit was called in to search her vehicle and the search turned up a plastic bag under one of the seats and it had nearly five grams of cocaine in it. Torres-Rojas was arrested and charged with cocaine possession. She was booked into county jail and later released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

A Lehigh Acres woman is dead after a vehicle accident early Monday morning. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 27 year old Yanelys Gonzalez Periera was driving a Honda Civic east on Route 82 in Lee County just after 2:30 when she didn’t approach a curve in the road properly, causing her to cross the double yellow centerline, into the opposite lane, where her car hit an oncoming vehicle head on. Both Pereira and the driver of the oncoming car, a Fort Myers woman, were pronounced dead at the scene. FHP is investigating the accident.

On the arrest report:

25 year old Kyle Ryan Payne of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on previous charges involving alcohol. He was released after posting a $15 hundred dollar bond.

38 year old Hendrik Petruus Van Vuuren of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after a traffic stop and field sobriety test. His bond is set at $750 dollars.

29 year old Cory Ray Jenkins of Okeechobee, an inmate at the county jail, was arrested for criminal mischief when he vandalized property at the jail. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

28 year old Tiffany Hope Dickinson-Lewis of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past drug offenses. She’s being held without bond.

53 year old Clarence Lee Corkey of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Tallahassee for violating parole. He’s being held without bond.


OCSO & OPD Recruit Smart Machines For Traffic Speed Control

OCSO & OPD Recruit Smart Machines For Traffic Speed Control

The OCSO traffic unit dates back to 1998, when OCSO was awarded a grant to start one. It originally consisted of two deputies, that grew to three, however in 2010, through promotions and loss of the grant the unit was reduced to one deputy. That one deputy is Deputy Adrian Rogers. Deputy Rogers spends anywhere from 8 to 10 hours at a time on his motor in all weather conditions, all year long.

Recently, the Okeechobee City Police Department created a traffic unit, operated by Officer Ryan Holroyd. Officer Holroyd will be attending an intense and specialized two-week police motorcycle training course where safety and defense tactics are stressed.

OCSO and OPD have recently purchased “Smart Machines”. You’ve probably seen these machines on the roads. They are machines that show your speed as you approach them. These machines enable law enforcement to identify the problem areas in neighborhoods, on the roadways and the time of day that speed is increased.

The motorcycle unit’s primary assignment is traffic enforcement; their goal being to facilitate and promote the safe movement of traffic throughout Okeechobee County. They will also participate in numerous other events including parades, VIP escorts, funeral escorts, displays and other community events.

Deputy Rogers and Officer Holroyd will train monthly with other law enforcement agencies.

Chief Bob Peterson stated, “As anyone who lives, or works here knows the amount of traffic, and traffic related complaints have increased significantly over the years. As a consequence we have implemented, using only existing resources and money, a full-time traffic unit; which now includes a Police Motorcycle, the first of its kind at the Police Department. We are looking forward to working with the Sheriff’s Office traffic unit towards making Okeechobee a safe place to drive.”

Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stated, “One of our major complaints to date is reference traffic speed on our roadways.  The continued collaboration with Chief Peterson and I will focus together on this issue. It is not our intent to cost our citizens additional expense but to make them aware of their speed while they are headed to their prospective destinations. Our community is growing and we have a lot of people traveling through our community all day and night.   Coupled with our Northern guests, these reasons cause considerable congestion to our roadways.  We are also aware of the many distractions within our vehicles that cause focus to be taken off the road in front of us. We want our motoring public to be aware and safe. We ask everyone to assist us to achieve this goal.”

 

REMEMBER, WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES, LOOK TWICE…SAVE A LIFE!

Be safe guys!

Michele Bell, PIO


News Cast 1/30

News Cast for January 30th:

An Okeechobee man will be back in court this morning to face charges of first degree murder and attempted first degree murder. 49 year old Mark Glen Deschamps is charged with murdering his girlfriend and the attempted murder of a man Deschamps believes she was seeing behind his back in late October, 2016. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says he has presented most of the state’s witnesses and will conclude his case today before the defense presents their case. The trial was scheduled to begin last month but an issue with a juror forced a mistrial. Despite that bump in the road, Albright says he’s still as ready and as prepared now as before. Deschamps is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His trial continues this morning at 9:30 in an Okeechobee County Courtroom.

Albright-Deschamps Case 1

Albright-Deschamps Case 2

The Okeechobee County Commissioners recognized a very special war veteran during their meeting last week. 88 year old US Army Retired Master Sergeant Robert Wolfe Junior was recognized for his time served in the Korean War and being a Purple Heart recipient after receiving wounds in that conflict. Wolfe says it “feels great” to be recognized and he couldn’t be prouder to receive this honor. Wolfe served two tours in the Korean War, for a total of three years. He also received a Quilt of Valor from members of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, given to veterans to show support for them.

Wolfe 1

Wolfe 2

Detectives from the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department are conducting a death investigation involving one of its members. Sgt. Max Van D’Huynslager (Van-den-slogger) died Saturday morning and initial indications are his death was self-inflicted. Spokesperson Scott Dressel says Sgt. Van D’Hyunslager’s death was a shock to everyone and no one had any idea that he had any thought of possibly taking his life. Dressel says unfortunately this is a growing trend and he hopes some good can come of it. Dressel says Sgt. Van D’Hyunslager was described as a “great guy” both on and away from the job. He leaves behind a wife and eight year old daughter. This is the second such tragedy in a week for Highlands County as residents are still recovering from the murders of five women at SunTrust Bank in Sebring by a gunman last Wednesday.

Dressel-Deputy Death Investigation 1

Dressel-Deputy Death Investigation 2

Detectives from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department’s narcotics division arrested a local man and woman for drug possession Monday afternoon. Detectives say they were told by a confidential informant that 29 year old Mark Wesley Garland had possession of methamphetamine and he would be delivering it to a buyer at the intersection of Highway 98 and State Route 27. At around 2:30, Garland was stopped for speeding on the 85 hundred block of Highway 98 North and detectives say Garland’s driver’s license was suspended. A K-9 unit was called in to search the vehicle and Garland and his passenger, 26 year old Serrina Arlene Snyder, were also searched. The search of the car turned up a small amount of marijuana and nearly four grams of methamphetamine. Snyder and Garland were arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and marijuana and Garland received an additional charge for driving on a suspended license. Both were booked into county jail and their bonds are set at just over $50 thousand dollars apiece.

Okeechobee County firefighters were called to a report of a downed power line early Sunday morning. Crews responded to the intersection of SE 63rd Avenue and Highway 710 a little before eight o’clock and found the power line was not downed but it was arching. Firefighters stood by and monitored it until Florida Power and Light officials arrived to repair the arching line. No one was hurt and no damages.

A Lake Placid man is dead following a vehicle accident last Sunday night. Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers say 62 year old Howard S. Davis was walking north in the right lane of Highway 27 in Highlands County a little after eight o’clock when a GMC  Suburban, driven by 78 year old Carl B. Staron, was coming up behind Davis. Staron was reportedly unable to avoid a collision with Davis and his vehicle hit him from behind. The impact resulted in Davis ending up on the east grass shoulder of Highway 27. Davis was pronounced dead by FHP investigators. Staron was not injured in the accident. FHP is investigating.

On the arrest report:

27 year old Gregory Thomas Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for violating probation on past charges of simple assault. He was released after posting a thousand dollar bond.

41 year old Randy Gerald Whaley of Okeechobee was arrested for withholding child support. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.

30 year old Steven Wayne Lawrence of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past battery charges. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

22 year old Janeer Anika Snell of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on past charges of fraud. She was released after posting bond.

28 year old Stacey Danielle Jablonski of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Georgia for an undisclosed charge. She’s being held without bond and is awaiting extradition.

57 year old Scott Alan Akers of Okeechobee was arrested for drunk driving after driving his vehicle into a ditch. His bond has not been set.


81st Brighton Field Day Festival & Rodeo Set for February 15-17

81st Brighton Field Day Festival & Rodeo

Set for February 15-17 

Featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band in Concert

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. (January 29, 2019) – Celebrating 81 years, the Brighton Field Day Festival & Rodeo will take place at the Fred Smith Rodeo Arena on the Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation in Okeechobee, Florida, February 15-17.

Presented by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, many Seminole favorites will return including PRCA Rodeo, clothing contests, American Indian arts & crafts and native foods. Attendees may also visit the Seminole Culture Camp where a living Seminole Indian Village will be on display.

Entertainment will include a Saturday evening concert by the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Kenny Wayne Shepherd is widely considered to be one of the best blues/rock guitarists today. The Louisiana born axeman and songsmith has sold millions of albums worldwide while throwing singles into the Top 10, shining a light on the rich blues of the past and forging ahead with his own modern twist on a classic sound he has embodied since his teens.

In a 20-plus year recording career that began when he was just 16, Shepherd has established himself as an immensely popular recording artist, a consistently in demand live act and an influential force in a worldwide resurgence of interest in the blues.

From television performances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (amongst others) to features in Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Maxim Magazine, Blender, Spin, USA Today and more, his musical career has been nothing short of phenomenal.

The event weekend will also feature native dance troupes from neighboring tribes, storytelling, alligator wrestling and a snake show.

Attendees can visit the sponsor-driven Pro Rodeo Fan Zone on the way into the arena. The rodeo grounds will have a variety of crafts and food vendors for all to enjoy.

Brighton Field Day started in November of 1938. William and Edith Boehmer, two teachers who were residing on the Brighton reservation, got the idea to start a “day of fun.” It initially was meant to be a day for Tribal community members to visit, but now thousands of visitors join Seminole Tribal members in this annual celebration.

From Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17, gates will open at 9 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively. Activities begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. on Sunday.

The PRCA Rodeo will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. The Kenny Wayne Shepherd concert is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

The Brighton Field Day Festival & Rodeo will be held at the Fred Smith Rodeo Arena, which is located at 17400 Sports Complex Road NE, Okeechobee, Florida, 34974.

From Okeechobee, take Hwy 70 west or from US-27 take Hwy 70 east to Hwy 721, right on Harney Pond Road one mile to Fred Smith Arena. From Fort Lauderdale, take US-27 N, turn right on Hwy 78, turn left on Hwy 721, left on Harney Pond Road, one mile to Fred Smith Arena. And, from Fort Myers, take SR 80 east, turn left on FL-29/Bridge Street, turn right onto FL-78 E, turn right on US-27 S to Hwy 78 E, turn left on Hwy 721, left on Harney Pond Road, one mile to Fred Smith Arena.

Tickets are $20 each day and event information can be found at www.brightonfieldday.com

or by calling (863) 467-6039.


News Cast 1/29

News Cast for January 29th:

A vigil was held this past Sunday evening in Sebring for the five women who lost their lives when a man opened fire inside the SunTrust Bank on the 19 hundred block of US Highway 27 South a little after 12:30 last Wednesday afternoon, killing all five. Highlands County Sheriff’s Spokesperson Scott Dressel says somewhere between five hundred and seven hundred people packed the Highlands News Sun Center in Sebring to honor the victims of this tragedy, 31 year old Jessica Eileen Noreen Montague of Avon Park, 65 year old Cynthia Lee Watson of Venus, 55 year old Marisol Lopez of Lake Placid, 37 year old Ana Pinon-Williams, previously of Okeechobee and Sebring, and one other woman whose name still has not officially been released by authorities. Dressel says the vigil was originally to be set at a local football field but the weather changed that plan and it worked out for the best. Meanwhile, the investigation into the incident continues and the suspect in the incident, 21 year old Zephan Alan Xaver of Sebring, remains in police custody without bond. Dressel says the branch of the SunTrust Bank where the shooting took place will be closed permanently.

Dressel-Vigil for SunTrust Victims 1

Dressel-Vigil for SunTrust Victims 2

The trial for an Okeechobee man charged with a host of offenses, including first degree murder, will finally begin today after a month and a half delay. 49 year old Mark Glen Deschamps is charged with murdering his girlfriend and the attempted murder of a man Deschamps believes she was seeing behind his back two years ago. The trial was expected to begin on December 11th but an issue came up during the jury selection the day before. Prosecutor Ashley Albright says a prospective juror blurted something out while being questioned by the judge which was not supposed to be revealed, prompting a mistrial. Albright says it turned out to be a rather frustrating time in court that day. Deschamps’ trial is set to begin at 9:30 in an Okeechobee County Courtroom. Jurors were selected for the trial yesterday.

Albright-No Jury Selected 1

Albright-No Jury Selected 2

This past Wednesday night, there was a special reception at the Okeechobee County Historic Courthouse showcasing the artwork of some junior and senior students of Okeechobee High School (OHS).  Arts and Culture Director for Okeechobee County Bridgette Waldau says this is an annual event for OHS students’ artwork and it’s a good honor for them because they can show their work in a professional setting and it teaches them how to best prepare for an art show, especially if they plan on making it a career. Waldau says the artistic talent being shown is nothing short of excellent. Waldau says the students’ work is familiar to her because she recognizes them when the students were in elementary school. Students’ artworks being featured are Ana Bustos, Ariana Diaz-Jaime, Julie Hines, Addison Laskey, Jasmin Santana, Jordyn Shreves, Cristina Torres, Brooke Whaley and Alexis Yates.  The artwork will be on display at the Historic Courthouse until February 22nd.

Waldau-OHS Art Show 1

Waldau-OHS Art Show 2

An Okeechobee man is facing serious charges in connection with an incident that occurred on Saturday evening. Police arrested 28 year old Chad Vincent Taylor on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon when he reportedly brandished a pistol at someone while they were stopped at a traffic light. Police say a man and his wife were heading east on Route 70 near 5th Avenue a little after 4:30 when Taylor was following them too closely in his Chevy Cavalier. The driver of the car changed lanes to allow Taylor to pass them and once they stopped at the light, Taylor pulled up alongside them and pointed the gun at the driver and said “look out.” The couple flagged down a Martin County Sheriff’s deputy and gave him Taylor’s license plate number and Okeechobee County authorities were notified. The couple was brought to an area where Taylor was stopped by police and he was identified by the man and his wife. Taylor was arrested and charged with aggravated assault without intent to kill and possession of marijuana. He was released after posting a $10 thousand five hundred dollar bond.

On the arrest report:

38 year old Heather Lynn Cooke of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for driving on a suspended license with knowledge of it after a traffic stop. She was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

44 year old Timothy O’Brien Crews of Okeechobee was arrested on grand theft auto charges. His bond is set at $35 thousand dollars.

34 year old Jose Miguel Paguada of Okeechobee was arrested on warrants from Palm Beach County for felony battery and other charges. He’s being held without bond.

28 year old Dustin Allen Lee Lundy of Okeechobee was arrested for trespassing. He’s being held on a five hundred dollar bond.

21 year old Ozmani Robles of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of domestic violence and drug possession. He’s being held without bond.

79 year old Benjamin Franklin Hunter of Okeechobee was arrested for simple assault and battery after throwing a cup at a manager of Subway following an argument. He was released after posting bond.

41 year old Michelle Lee Jones of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of alprazolam with intent to sell it. Her bond is set at $30 thousand dollars.

37 year old Joshua Daniel Brown of Stuart was arrested for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a $250 dollar bond.


News Cast 1/28

News Cast for January 28th:

Officers from the Sebring Police Department and Highlands County Sheriff’s Department have released the name of the fourth of five victims, killed by a shooter in a Sebring area bank on Wednesday afternoon. Police say 31 year old Jessica Eileen Noreen Montague of Avon Park along with 65 year old Cynthia Lee Watson of Venus, 55 year old Marisol Lopez of Lake Placid and 37 year old Ana Pinon-Williams, previously of Okeechobee and Sebring, and one other woman were killed when 21 year old Zephan Alan Xaver of Sebring opened fire inside the SunTrust Bank on the 19 hundred block of US Highway 27 South a little after 12:30. Police and Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies established a perimeter around the bank while SWAT team members from the sheriff’s department were brought in and persuaded Xaver to surrender. Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says while Sebring residents are still reeling from this tragedy, SunTrust banks in Sebring have taken some extra precautions. A vigil to honor the victims was held last evening at the Highlands News-Sun Center on Magnolia Avenue in Sebring. At this time the identity of the fifth victim has still not officially been released by authorities. Meanwhile, Xaver’s motives behind his actions remain a mystery.

.Dressel-SunTrust Victims 1

Dressel-SunTrust Victims 2

An Okeechobee woman will be going to prison for a considerable number of years following her court appearance this past Friday. An Okeechobee County Court judge handed down a sentence of nearly 20 years to 20 year old Brandie Ariel Dailey after she plead guilty to second degree murder and tampering with evidence in connection with the strangling death almost two years ago of 60 year old Robert Joiner in his home that Dailey and her boyfriend, 23 year old Michael Raulerson also of Okeechobee, lived in. After Joiner was murdered, Dailey and Raulerson tied Joiner’s hands behind his back and his feet together, wrapped him in a blanket and disposed of the body on the four hundred block of SE 32nd Avenue.  Prosecutor Don Richardson says he has mixed feelings about Dailey’s sentence because several confessions by Dailey, which could’ve given her a life sentence if admitted in this case, were lost, likely because Dailey’s legal counsel would’ve suppressed them with motions to do so and would’ve left the prosecution at a disadvantage. Dailey was credited with over six hundred days of time served so her sentence will be just over 18 years in prison. Raulerson, who plead guilty to accessory, will be sentenced in a month or two. Dailey’s attorney, Donald Chinquina, declined to comment for this story.

Richardson-Dailey Case 1

Richardson-Dailey Case 2

Firefighters from Okeechobee County and the Florida Forest Service had another report of a grass and brush fire to contend with last Tuesday morning, but the fire appeared to be not nearly as bad as some recent fires. Crews were called to the 29 hundred block of Highway 70 East a little after 10:45 and found a small fire at the base of a palm tree. Crews got the fire controlled in less than five minutes with no one getting hurt and no structure damages. Investigators say the fire was started by some downed power lines in the trees. Firefighters notified Florida Power and Light (FPL) to come and shut down power to the downed lines before repairing them.

On the arrest report:

18 year old Dustin Wayne Hunt of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. His bond is set at $25 thousand dollars.

53 year old Linda Marie Stokes of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of the controlled substance diazepam with intent to sell it. Her bond is set at ten thousand dollars.


News Cast 1/25

News Cast for January 25th:

Ana Pinon Williams

Officers from the Sebring Police Department and Highlands County Sheriff’s Department have released the names of three of the five victims, all women, who were killed by a shooter in a Sebring area bank on Wednesday afternoon. Police say 65 year old Cynthia Lee Watson of Venus, 55 year old Marisol Lopez of Lake Placid and 37 year old Ana Pinon-Williams, of Okeechobee and Sebring, plus two other women were killed when 21 year old Zephan Alan Xaver of Sebring opened fire inside the SunTrust Bank on the 19 hundred block of US Highway 27 South a little after 12:30. Sebring Police and Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies were quickly mobilized and established a perimeter around the bank and SWAT team members from the sheriff’s department were also brought in to try to persuade Xaver to surrender which he eventually did. Sheriff’s spokesperson Scott Dressel says the town of Sebring is still in shock after this unimaginable tragedy but some good has come out of it. The identities of the other two victims will remain unreleased to the public due to requests by their families. Dressel says another person inside the bank who had been in the break room, ran out after she heard the shots being fired and called the authorities. Meanwhile, Xaver’s motives remain a mystery.

Dressel-Bank Shooting Victims 1

Dressel-Bank Shooting Victims 2

Okeechobee County nearly had the potential for a tragedy of its own this week. Officials from the Sheriff’s Department say there were multiple postings on social media that began last weekend and spilled into this week regarding a shooting in county schools. Sheriff Noel Stephen says these posts got misconstrued into a message endangering schoolchildren and it concerned parents, school officials as well as law enforcement. Stephen says it began with an inappropriate racial comment made on social media and it led to fights between students and a considerable number of students did not show up for school on certain days this week. Law enforcement officials worked diligently to identify the source of the social media posts and some arrests were made. Stephen says while social media can be a useful tool, it’s not always the best way to communicate. Stephen says there were extra patrols implemented at area schools as a result of these social media posts. Despite some fights amongst students, there were no serious injuries reported. All schools will be open and operating at normal hours today.

Dangerous Social Media Posts 1

Dangerous Social Media Posts – Kenworthy

Okeechobee County Firefighters had a vehicle fire to contend with Monday night. Firefighters were called to the ten thousand block of Highway 70 West a little before 8:45 for a report of a Chevy passenger van on fire. Heading to the scene, they were told a sheriff’s deputy was already there and he put out the blaze with a portable fire extinguisher. Crews arrived just before nine o’clock and while the fire in the engine was completely extinguished, they sprayed about a hundred gallons of water on it to cool it off, making sure it would not re-ignite. Investigators say the fire started when the driver of the vehicle heard a loud backfiring noise and then saw flames under the hood. He pulled over and called 911. No one was hurt. Total damage is estimated to be about fifteen hundred dollars.

A traffic stop turned into a drug related arrest for an Okeechobee man Wednesday. Sheriff’s deputies stopped an Oldsmobile, driven by 57 year old Roger Lynn Forrester, on the 14 hundred block of Highway 70 East a little before 4:30 for speeding. After deputies collected Forrester’s driver’s license and registration to be checked with dispatch, he consented to a search of his car by a K-9 unit. The search revealed a piece of crack cocaine on the driver’s seat and two small pieces of crack cocaine on the passenger seat. Forrester was arrested and charged with cocaine possession. He was booked into county jail and is being held on a ten thousand dollar bond.

On the arrest report:

31 year old James Steven Flagel Junior of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a warrant from St. Lucie County for past charges of burglary and resisting arrest with violence. He’s being held without bond.

36 year old Clifford Alton Simmons of Okeechobee was arrested on a warrant from Indiana for past charges of robbery resulting in injuries. He’s being held without bond.

47 year old Tanya Renee Huggins of Okeechobee was arrested for failing to appear in court on past charges of drug possession and driving on a suspended license. She’s being held without bond.

34 year old Brian Allen Perry of Port St. Lucie was arrested on two counts of contempt of court during his hearing on drug possession charges. He’s being held without bond.


News Cast 1/24

News Cast for January 24th:

Okeechobee County Commissioners meet this morning and among the items on the agenda they will be addressing are presenting employee service awards and they will also be looking at approving a lease agreement with an outside company to provide closed captioning capabilities for commissioners’ meetings online. The meeting will begin at nine o’clock in the Historic County Courthouse. It will be streamed live on the commissioners’ website.

Officers from the Sebring Police Department have a local man in custody at this time following a shooting inside a bank yesterday that resulted in the deaths of five people. 21 year old Zephan Xaver of Sebring reportedly called Highlands County Sheriff’s Office dispatch and said he just shot five people inside the SunTrust Bank on the 19 hundred block of US Highway 27 South a little after 12:30. Sebring Police and Highlands County Sheriff’s deputies established a perimeter around the bank and SWAT team members from the sheriff’s department were also engaged to try to persuade Xaver to surrender which he eventually did. Highlands County Sheriff’s Department Spokesperson Scott Dressel says this is an absolute tragedy in any community, but especially so in Sebring. In a press conference a few hours after the incident, Governor Ron DeSantis says this is a “terrible day for Sebring, Highlands County and the people of Florida,” and he promised “swift and exacting justice.” What prompted Xaver’s actions is not known at this time. The names of the victims have not been released pending family notification.

Dressel-Bank Shooting 1

Dressel-Bank Shooting 2

Firefighters from Okeechobee County and the Florida Forest Service had their hands full with a brush fire Saturday afternoon. Crews were called to the 28 thousand block of NE 48th Avenue a little after 2:15 and found a five acre sized fire that was burning a lot of ground fuels such as roots, dead leaves and fine deadwood. Forest Service crews say the fire was located in an area of an inaccessible swamp and it required a bulldozer to remove any more fuels that could be burned. Crews accomplished this within an hour and a half and got the blaze contained. Rain the following day got the blaze controlled. No one was hurt and no structure damages. Investigators say downed powerlines ignited the brush and grass.

A traffic stop resulted in a drug-related arrest and incarceration for two local men and a local woman early Tuesday morning. Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies stopped a Toyota Utility vehicle, driven by 40 year old William Edward Lewis, on the 28 hundred block of Highway 441 South a little after two o’clock for not having a visible tag light on the vehicle. Deputies asked for identification from Lewis and his passengers, 46 year old Jeffrey Allen Finger and 31 year old Ashly Harden. Deputies say Lewis’s hands were visibly shaking and he wasn’t making direct eye contact with deputies. A K-9 unit was called to search the vehicle and all three occupants were told to exit the vehicle. The search turned up a scale with methamphetamine residue on it, a glass pipe for smoking methamphetamine and two small spoons with meth residue on them and a backpack in the back seat had unused syringes in it. Lewis, Harden and Finger were all arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia while Lewis was also charged with grand theft of a motor vehicle and driving on a suspended license. Lewis, Finger and Harden were booked into county jail. Finger’s bond is set at five thousand dollars and Harden’s and Lewis’s bonds have not been set at this time.

That was not the only one; Okeechobee County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a local man Monday night for a drug related crime after his vehicle was stopped. Deputies stopped a Ford Utility vehicle, driven by 48 year old Willard Heath Leitner near the intersection of SE 38th Avenue and SE 28th Street at around 8:45 for running through a stop sign. As deputies asked Leitner for his license and registration, he would not make eye contact with the deputy, his hands were shaking and he was stuttering his words. A K-9 unit was brought in to search the vehicle and a Clonazepam tablet was found in the driver storage compartment. Leitner was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. He was booked into county jail and his bond is set at five thousand dollars.

On the arrest report:

38 year old David Dean Beagle of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a six thousand dollar bond.

32 year old Jessie Dirke Zipperer the Second of Okeechobee was arrested for violating parole. He’s being held without bond.

36 year old Clayton De Lane Lineberry of Okeechobee was arrested for possession of methamphetamine after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five thousand dollar bond.

19 year old Belizario Nicholas Romero of Okeechobee was arrested for violating probation on previous charges of driving on a suspended license and drunk driving. He’s being held without bond.

57 year old Larry Gene Clase of Okeechobee was arrested for contempt of court during his hearing on past charges of possession of a concealed weapon by a felon. He’s being held without bond.

30 year old Aaron Joe Gaucin of Okeechobee was arrested by police for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop. His bond is set at a thousand dollars.


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