Local News

Defendant Pleads Guilty for Role in Brutal Sex Trafficking Ring

Defendant Pleads Guilty for Role in Brutal Sex Trafficking Ring

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 9, 2014

U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida and Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division announced today that Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy and one count of holding a person in involuntary servitude. Cadena-Sosa faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled to occur on Jan. 27, 2015, before United States District Judge Jose Martinez. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the parties will recommend the maximum sentence of 15 years and over $1.26 million in restitution to the victims.

Cadena-Sosa, a 45 year-old Mexican national, pleaded guilty to holding the victim, a young, undocumented Mexican national, in involuntary servitude from 1996 to 1997, using beatings, rapes, threats of harm toward the victim and her family and threats of arrest to compel her to engage in prostitution to pay off a smuggling debt. Cadena-Sosa also pleaded guilty to conspiring with other members of the Cadena organization to commit additional offenses in connection with the scheme.

Sixteen defendants were charged in a superseding indictment filed in 1998. Cadena-Sosa was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the United States in November 2013. Four other family members have been convicted, including Cadena-Sosa’s uncle, Rogerio Cadena, who pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 years; Cadena-Sosa’s brother, Abel Cadena-Sosa, who was convicted in Mexico and sentenced to 24 years, and two other brothers, Hugo and Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa, who pleaded guilty 2002 and 2008, and were sentenced to 5 years and 15 years, respectively. Six other defendants have pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with the scheme, and one was convicted in state court for a murder outside a Cadena-run brothel.

According to court records, the defendant and other members of the Cadena organization recruited young women and girls, some as young as fourteen, in Veracruz, Mexico, and lured them to the United States on false promises of legitimate jobs. The defendants then smuggled the victims into the United States, imposed heavy smuggling debts, and compelled them into prostitution for twelve hours a day, six days a week, using brutal assaults, rapes and threats to control the victims and punish those who attempted to escape.

“Undoubtedly, sex trafficking is one the most serious crimes prosecuted by our Office and the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “The heinous acts committed against these young women and girls by the Cadena organization simply cannot be tolerated, and we will continue to identify, arrest and prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of the suffering of others. The victims here are survivors and today’s plea represents one more step towards closure in a case that has taken them down a long road to justice.”

“No human being should have to endure the atrocities these young women and girls suffered at the hands of the Cadena organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Moran. “These violations of the victims’ individual rights and freedom are intolerable in a nation founded on rights, liberty, and the rule of law. The Department of Justice will continue in its relentless efforts to bring human traffickers to justice and restore the rights and dignity of the courageous survivors of this crime.”

“Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa is a brutal criminal who threatened and coerced young victims into prostitution to pay off smuggling debts,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge George L. Pira of the FBI’s Miami Office. “He is now behind bars in large part due to the diligence and dedication of our many law enforcement partners who helped bring this case to justice.”

U.S. Attorney Ferrer and Acting Assistant Attorney General Moran commended the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation and prosecution, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, West Palm Beach Police Department, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, Avon Park Police Department, Boynton Beach Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office. They also thanked the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs for its assistance with the extradition. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam McMichael and Trial Attorney Matthew Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.


Commissioner Putnam Announces 2015 Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame Honorees

Commissioner Putnam Announces 2015 Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame Honorees

Program Recognizes Contributions to Agriculture in Florida

Tallahassee, FL – Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame Foundation announced today six honorees who will be inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame for 2015. These individuals have made outstanding contributions to Florida’s agriculture industry and mentored future leaders in this field.

“Each of these men left an indelible mark on the history of Florida agriculture,” Commissioner Putnam said. “Not only are they leaders in their respective fields, but they’ve also influenced agriculture industries in other parts of the world. I’m proud to honor these Floridians for their contributions.”

The honorees are:

  • Peyton (Pat) Turner Wilson of Frostproof was president of the Latt Maxcy Corporation and owner of Crooked Lake Ranch for more than three decades. The well-known citrus grower and cattle rancher was a two-term president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the National Cattlemen’s Association, among many other boards and associations. He was the largest Polled Hereford cattle breeder in Florida. As Chairman of the Board of Citizen’s Bank and Trust in Polk County for almost four decades, he assisted many agricultural business owners. He also volunteered his time for FFA and 4-H to help the younger generation prepare for the challenges facing farmers of the future. He also served his country in the United States Navy during World War II. He was a leader and role model until his death in 2008.
  • Alvin Warnick of Gainesville is a leading reproductive physiologist at the University of Florida who transformed the cattle industry through his research on reproduction and by implementing new breeding techniques. He co-authored three books and more than 300 scientific publications on scientific research to improve beef cattle in Florida and throughout Central and South America. From 1942-45, he served the country with the United Stated Air Force. He became a professor at the University of Florida in 1953 and was named a Professor Emeritus in 1990 after teaching there for almost four decades. In his 90s, he is still active at the university and continues to educate the next generation of Florida cattle ranchers.
  • Robert Blake Whisenant of Parrish is a pioneer of Florida agriculture. He was the first to use Integrated Pest Management, among the first to utilize micro-irrigation and has worked with Mobile Irrigation Labs to improve irrigation techniques. He is the inventor of the Earthbox, a self-contained system for growing almost any crop with less water and less impact on the environment. The system has spread across the globe, where international organizations use the Earthbox to provide an effective way to teach families how to grow nutritious food with minimal input. The box has been used in Italy with commercial farmers and in Ghana as a research project with the World Food Bank. He is committed to conservation, and his farm is used as a regular tour stop for members of the public, politicians, environmentalists and regulators to observe soil and water conservation practices and research.
  • Edward D. Duda, Ferdinand S. Duda and Joseph A. Duda of Oviedo represent their family’s collective ownership in the agriculture and real estate business known as A. Duda & Sons as President, CEO and Chairman of the Board, respectively. The company was one of the first to minimize the use of pesticides, including crop rotation and field flooding. Best management practices implemented include micro-jet irrigation and water retention systems to conserve and reuse water. The three men have been involved in dozens of boards and associations over five decades. During their leadership, the company continued to diversify its agriculture commodities and established a celery breeding program that is considered the world’s largest and most prolific.

The award winners will be honored at next year’s Ag Hall of Fame Dinner. For tickets, or more information about the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame, go to http://floridaaghalloffame.org/category/2015/. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.


Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services First State Agency to Hire Former Foster Youth As Part of Legislative Pilot Program

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services First State Agency to Hire Former Foster Youth As Part of Legislative Pilot Program

Six Young Adults Who Aged Out of Foster Care Employed in Tallahassee

Tallahassee, FL – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has hired six young adults who have aged out of Florida’s foster care system as part of a pilot program created by the Florida Legislature.

“We’re proud to offer these bright, young ladies and gentlemen the opportunity to explore a career in public service at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam.

The program was developed as a priority of Rep. Ben Albritton, who worked with the Florida Guardian ad Litem program, the Department of Children and Families and other legislators to implement and fund the pilot.

“I am so very thrilled that FDACS has again proven to be a dependable, thoughtful partner in the goal of supporting our current and previous foster kids,” said Rep. Albritton. “My friend Commissioner Putnam and his entire staff have shown that they aren’t going to just ‘talk the talk’ about enhancing foster kids’ futures, they have enthusiastically and without hesitation ‘walked the walk!’”

Former foster youth often struggle to find entry-level employment due to lack of experience, education, or stability. The state’s Guardian ad Litem program, which provides advocates for children in foster care, partnered with Rep. Albritton to help place former foster youth in state government jobs.

“We appreciate Rep. Albritton’s enthusiasm and commitment to make a real difference in the lives of youth who have aged out of foster care,” said Alan Abramowitz, director of the Florida Guardian ad Litem program. “This partnership shows that if we all work together, we can provide each of these young adults with a path to a successful future.”

The pilot is in coordination with the state’s new “It Can Be Done” outreach campaign, which seeks to open career opportunities for former foster youth and is managed by the Department of Children and Families. It was developed in partnership with former and current foster youth who hope to engage local businesses, organizations and communities to play a pivotal role in empowering foster youth to achieve the level of success we hope for all of our children.

“The professional skills these young adults are learning on the job will pave the way for successful futures,” said DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll. “We thank Commissioner Putnam, his department and the Legislature for giving these young people the opportunity to expand their horizons and discover ‘it can be done.’”

The new employees are:

  • Brian Williams, telecommunications specialist in the Office of Agriculture Technology Services
  • Kenisha Anthony, clerk specialist for the Florida Forest Service
  • Sacha Koval, lab tech in Agriculture Environmental Services
  • John Glen Fair, program specialist in Food, Nutrition and Wellness
  • Samantha Rogers, marketing specialist in the Division of Marketing
  • Julia Schaffer, clerk specialist in the Office of the General Counsel

For more information on the “It Can Be Done” campaign, visit MyFLFamilies.com/itCANbedone.

For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.


Charles Murphy News 10/10

News Cast for October 10th:

County commissioners imposed a 60 day moratorium on impact fees so they can develop a policy to eliminate the fees and consider how to repay almost 1.6 million dollars to the community. They also considered spending down the landfill trust fund on projects since Waste Management in on record they have the insurance to cover costs of closing the facility. They will ask the state legislative delegation to support a change in the sheriff’s budget appeal process so that administrative hearing officers and not the cabinet would decide the merits of an appeal. They also request the state to clarify who should be legally responsible to operate the county jail if the sheriff is appointed chief corrections officer.

They also will seek grants for storm water and drainage and also for a hurricane shelter at the Ag Civic Center. The Youth Livestock Show also indicated they would like a contract with the county and not the fair board to operate their program in March. The county is also interested in considering a purchase of 40 acres owned by the Okeechobee Utiltiy Authority for use in the east west flowage canal project.

A 1 million dollar bond was set against 46 year old Conrad Thitchener, extradited back to Okeechobee from Poughkeepsie New York to face six felony charges including rape.

Two Okeechobee men were charged with cocaine counts for allegedly selling crack near Alderman Park, 25 year old Earl Ryan and 51 year old Gilbert Pickens.

The Kiwanis Club helped the Okeechobee pregnancy center raise 15 hundred dollars at their annual baby shower. Director Donna Summerall said they are a free service which assists young mothers with their pregnancies.

Press News Release Homicide in Lake Placid 2

Egan Arrest Report

Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Holds Baby Shower To Benefit Pregnancy Center (AUDIO INTERVIEW INCLUDED)

Sports Cast for October 10th:

Yearling played a stifling defense and shut out Osceola 3-0 in a battle of unbeaten soccer teams Thursday at Yearling middle school. Osceola didn’t get many good shots on net by the Bulls defense. Coach Erick Rios said his team had confidence it could win and that was a big factor in the match. David Solarzano said they passed the ball well and tried to keep Osceola off balance. He said the win meant a lot to the team. The two squads meet in a rematch on Monday afternoon at Osceola Middle School.

Erick Rios and David Solarzano on YMS win

The Lady Brahman swim teams split a tri match as they defeated John Carroll but fell to South Fork this week. The boys’ team swept defeating both the Rams and Bulldogs. Nathanael Bean, Michael Muros and Erik Gaitan won races for the boys.

The homecoming football game is tonight as the Brahmans host Port St. Lucie, the Jaguars come in at (0-4) Okeechobee is (1-4)

On the sports schedule this weekend, Moore Haven travels to First Baptist of Naples at 7:30 pm. OHS cross country teams compete at a meet at Disney on Saturday. OYFL teams will host the Central Florida Saints for five games on Saturday at Brahman Stadium.


SFWMD Puts State Funding to Work

SFWMD Puts State Funding to Work

Governor, Legislature invest in protecting South Florida’s water resources

West Palm Beach, FL — More than $150 million in new state funding included in the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) recently approved budget is being put to work on an array of critical projects to improve water quality and supply for the Everglades and South Florida’s environment.

“Providing clean water to restore the Everglades and protect South Florida’s water resources requires strong commitment as well as significant funding,” said SFWMD Executive Director Blake Guillory. “Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature provided both this year, with a state budget that allows this agency to move forward on projects to achieve these important goals.”

Everglades Restoration: $102 million

Given its critical importance to Floridians, the largest portion of new state funding is being invested in Everglades Restoration. Funding includes:

  • $32 million for Governor Scott’s Restoration Strategies plan to improve Everglades water quality. Funding will be directed toward continuing construction of the A-1 and L-8 flow equalization basins, which will store and improve water flows into Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) that remove phosphorus from Everglades-bound water. The funding will also help complete design work to increase capacity at STA-1 West, near Wellington, as well as to plan and prepare the Mecca Shallow Impoundment site, which will help provide water for the Loxahatchee River.
  • $40 million for the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area. The former citrus operation in Martin County is set to become a 6,300-acre wetland to clean local stormwater runoff before it reaches the St. Lucie River and Estuary. State funds will be used to accelerate construction of the STA component and pump station construction. The contract for STA construction was approved by the Governing Board in September.
  • $18 million for the C-43 Reservoir project. Funding allows the District to begin early work on the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) project to capture local basin runoff to protect the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. Work includes construction of a key berm and pump station.
  • $5 million for Kissimmee River Restoration. Funding will help acquire about 500 acres needed to continue the successful effort to restore the river and floodplain, which continue to show positive signs of ecosystem recovery.
  • $5 million to support C-111 South Dade project construction. This funding will allow the District to acquire about 525 acres needed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for constructing a key component of the project to help improve hydrology and water flow to Everglades National Park.
  • $2 million for Picayune Strand Restoration. Funds will be used to carry out testing for pump stations that will help restore the hydrology of the area.

Dispersed Water Management Program: $13 million

Along with projects to improve Everglades water quality, storing water on public and private lands is a key tool to reduce the amount of water flowing into Lake Okeechobee and/or sent to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries during high water conditions.

This year, the Governor and Legislature have invested $13 million to further the effort, known as the Dispersed Water Management Program. To date, the District has stored an average annual of 86,257 acre-feet. Of 43 project sites, 29 are operational with the remaining sites being planned or under construction. As of early October, 28 of the sites are full. The total potential retention capacity for all 43 sites is 88,585 acre-feet, or approximately 29 billion gallons of water.

Moving Water South and Land Preservation: $2.8 million + $20 million

In concert with its Dispersed Water Management Program, the District has been working to send as much water south as practicable from Lake Okeechobee.  The state’s appropriation of $2.8 million will be used to increase water storage on publicly owned lands. Funds will also cover the cost of continued extended operations at major pump stations to assist in conveying water south from the lake and to operate new pumps installed last year.

In addition, $20 million from the Florida Forever fund will go toward acquiring land needed for the Indian River Lagoon-South natural lands project.

 

About the South Florida Water Management District

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state – 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys. It is the oldest and largest of the state’s five water management districts. The agency mission is to manage and protect water resources of the region by balancing and improving water quality, flood control, natural systems and water supply. A key initiative is cleanup and restoration of the Everglades.


Charles Murphy News 10/9

News Cast for October 9th:

Work began on the widening of state road 70E from 2 to 4 lanes this week. FDOT spokesperson Janet Cook says the near 29 million dollar project will widen about nine miles over the next three years. Also included are three new bridges, a refurbished bridge over Mosquito Creek and several ponds to improve drainage along the route. Cook says they will do construction in phases so it doesn’t disrupt traffic as much.

Janet Cook on FDOT work on 70 east

Video interview is on our Facebook page.

Up to 5 thousand dollars in property damage was done by a vehicle riding on the basketball court at the Okeechobee sports complex sometime Monday night. Sheriff Deputies said a truck appeared to have caused tire marks from spin outs and burn outs on the court and they hope to find the culprits.

Among arrests, 53 year old Johnny Slone of Fort Pierce was charged with 32 felony crimes related to dealing in stolen property and giving false information to a pawnbroker charges. Bond was 160 thousand dollars. He’s accused of stealing metal wire, barrels, a fork lift and trailer and sold them to an Okeechobee salvage yard. The owners were later arrested but those charges were dropped. They have sued the sheriff for allegations of false arrest and civil rights violation in US District Court in South Florida.

In the courts, 23 year old Michael Holmes received four years in prison for charges related to a city police traffic stop on January 6th where 17 explosive devices were found in the vehicle. Holmes was on parole at the time. He was adjudicated of six crimes including possession of a short barreled rifle or shotgun, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of met amphetamines. He pled no contest to the charges.

Sports Cast for October 9th:

Makayla Root had 10 service points in the second game and Cheyenne Nunez had nine points including four aces in the second game to lead Okeechobee to an easy district win in volleyball over Fort Pierce Westwood last night 25-17, 25-5 and 25-6.

Okeechobee got off to a slow start in a sloppy first game according to Coach Taylor Pritchard. Okeechobee improves to 10-6 on the season.

Freshman Megan Hargraves said the Lady Brahmans had an obvious physical advantage over Westwood and had to work to stay focused on the match. The girls’ next match will be Tuesday against Lake Placid for senior night.

Megan Hargraves on win over Westwood

Taylor Pritchard on win over Westwood

On the sports schedule today, Moore Haven volleyball visits Glades Day starting at 5 pm. Yearling will host Osceola for volleyball and soccer this afternoon, both soccer teams will come in undefeated. Game times at 4:30.   Tonight is also the homecoming parade through downtown, they ask spectators to watch it from the north side of route 70.


Charles Murphy News 10/8

News Cast for October 8th:

Okeechobee commissioners will consider a two year lease extension with the county fair for use of the Ag Civic Center this week. President of the Fair Board Linda Syfrett says they like the location and the relationship they have with the county. Syfrett reported record attendance at the fair last year due to improvements in entertainment and due to great weather. She said the attractions will improve again this year. She also asked support for the State Legislative Delegation to pursue a grant to help the county build a hurricane shelter and all-purpose building at the Ag Center for indoor events.

Lynda Syfrett on county fair

Among arrests, 27 year old Jose Segura was charged with lewd and lascivious battery for alleged sexual relations he had with a 14 year old girl on October 4th.

58 year old Ernie Whaley was charged with resisting arrest without violence and battery on law enforcement after an apparent family squabble. He allegedly kicked a deputy in the arm while being treated at the hospital.

91 year old Virginia Mayer was identified as the elderly woman who drowned in a pond at Oasis Village on Friday. A relative hadn’t been able to reach her for two days and called law enforcement. Deputies say it appeared Mayer was gardening in the back yard when she tripped and fell and landed in the water. The medical examiner ruled it a drowning and accidental death.

Sports Cast for October 8th:

YMS Soccer

Osceola middle school remains thrilled with their unbeaten start in soccer this year. The Warriors defeated Storm Grove 5-0 on Monday. Goal keeper Mark Homes didn’t have much action but said he was impressed with how his team played in the second half

Defender Gage Ingram whose mom Bobbie is an assistant coach, scored the final goal of the match. He says the team continues to believe in itself and that the school has rallied behind them.

Osceola players Gage, Jesus Mojica, Holmes vs Storm Grove

WOKC’s Facebook page has interviews with the OMS Soccer players!

Yearling volleyball dropped a home match to Gifford 25-15 and 25-7 on Tuesday.

Yearling soccer rolled past Gifford 6-1.

On the sports schedule today, volleyball was rescheduled from Tuesday and the Lady Brahmans will meet Westwood with JV at 4 and varsity to follow. Yearling volleyball travels to Brighton at 4:30 pm. Lady Brahman golf visits Sebastian River this afternoon. JV football meets Vero Beach at 5 pm.


Death Investigation on 10/3/14

Reporting Officer: Detective Cari Arnold #26

Agency Case Number: 14S17968

Case Description: Death investigation

Initial Officer Responsible: Deputy Serifini

NOTE:   The following information was taken from the initial report filed on

October 03, 2914

On October 3, 2014 at approximately 1150 hours Deputy Serifini was

dispatched to welfare check at 1604 Hwy 441 SE #102. According to complainant

Ruth-Anne Beaver, she has been unable to reach her aunt, Virginia Mayer for two

days.

According to Ruth, she talks to Virginia daily.

SCENE LOCATION:

Address:  1601 Hwy 441 SE #102

VICTIM INFORMATION:

Name:  Virginia Mayer

DOB: 11/03/1922

Address: 1601 Hwy 441 SE #102

Phone: (863) 447-1520

WITNESS INFORMATION:

Name:  Alex Gignac

DOB:      11/15/1949

Address: 1601 Hwy 441 SE #78

Phone: (863)801-9452

 

Name: Ted Majesky

DOB: 08/28/1943

Address: 1601 Hwy 441 SE #103

Phone: 954-864-3328

 

Name: Milly Majesky

DOB: 12/26/1944

Address: 1601 Hwy 441 SE #103

Phone: 863-447-1287

 

Name: Gary Adkins

DOB: 09/30/1973

Address: 1601 Hwy 441 SE #136

Phone: 443-614-8234

 

Name: Tony Adkins

Address: 1601 Hwy 441 Se #136

Phone: 443-614-2289

 

Name: Shirley Adkins

DOB: 01/10/1951

Address: 1601 Hwy 441 SE #136

Phone: 443-614-4897

 

 

Next of Kin:

Name: Ruth-Anne Beaver

DOB07/15/1963

Address: 4301 Beck Road

Morganton N.C. 28655

Phone: 828-439-8144/828-413-7990

 

INJURIES: Small “V” shaped cut on chin.

 

DATE / TIME FRAME: Between 10/01/2014 @ 1200 hours and 10/02/2014 @ 1230 hours.

SUSPECT DESCRIPTION: N/A

CRIME SCENE PROCEDURES: photographs and physical evidence collected by Detective

Shireman.

FOLLOW UP INVESTIGATION:

October 3, 2014 at 1230 hours,

I, Detective Cari Arnold, was assigned this case for further investigation.

I began my investigation by making contact with the Deputy Serifini who advised

me that victim Virginia Mayer had been found deceased in the lake behind her

house.

Deputy Serifini gave me the names of the witnesses who found the body

and had been in contact with the deceased’s family member Ruth-Anne Beaver.

I approached the body and found it was partially in the water. The body

was positioned on her back with her head, shoulders and arms in the water. Her

breast’, abdomen, legs and feet were out of the water on the bank.

The head of the body was pointing in a north east direction. She was

holding her glasses in her left hand and it appeared that she was holding some

type of paper (tissue) in her right hand.

In a direct path, from the body towards the house, I observed

grass, weeds and dirt piled up where it appeared she had been doing some

gardening in her back yard approximately twenty (20) feet from the water.

It appears she was gardening beside a power junction box. This box had a

large screw sticking out of it as well as large hinges.

There were drops of what appeared to be blood on the power box by the

east hinge.

There was a concrete walkway between the power box and the house. Just beyond

the power box, there were a few stains on the concrete walkway that appeared to

be blood. Beside (north) the power box was a plant that also appeared to have

blood splatter on it. Those stains were collected and will be sent for testing.

Swabs, photographs, and a sample of water from the lake were collected and will

be entered into evidence.

The lake is located in the center of the housing development with modular homes

surrounding it. The rear of each home has water access. Some have seawalls but

Mayer’s did not.

I spoke to Alex Gignac. Alex is a neighbor who checks on Virginia on a semi

regular basis. Alex advised me that Virginia is in good health. She walks around

the park and drives often. (White Saturn P257TS) When Virginia is home and is

ok, she turns on her porch light. If the light is off. Alex will stop in and

check on her.  (Today the light was off) Alex is available if Virginia needs him

but he does not intrude on her privacy.

I asked Alex if he could remember the last time he saw Virginia and he advised

approximately two weeks. Alex advised me to speak with the neighbor’s at #136

directly across the street from Virginia.

Tony, Shirley and Gary Adkins live at #136. I spoke to Gary and he advised me

that he does not know Virginia well but he did see her on October 1, 2014 at

approximately noon (1200 hours) driving her car back to her house. Gary stated

he waved at her but she did not wave back. He is unsure if she saw him or not.

I spoke to Shirley who actually found the body and she stated that she was

looking around the house while the Deputy’s were talking to others and noticed

feet in the grass. Shirley began to scream. Once her husband Tony and neighbor

Alex came to her location, she returned to her house to calm down.

Shirley advised me that on Thursday October 2, 2014 Tony was at Ted and Milli’s

house (lot #103 next door to Virginia to the south) mowing and spraying for them

and he did not see the body at that time.

Shirley advised me that Virginia was polite and spoke to Tony at times but

rarely did she come over and actually visit with anyone.

I spoke to the neighbor’s at #103 Milli and Ted  Majesky. They advised me that

they are not friends with Virginia but have known her for a few years. They

stated that Virginia had become paranoid and thought they were spying on her.

When they had internet installed Virginia gave them a hassle and again accused

them of spying on her.  Milli is not positive but she believes that she saw

Virginia come home in her car yesterday (Thursday October 2, 2014) at around

noon time. Neither she nor Ted saw her after that.

The home to the north of Virginia is vacant at this time,.

The evidence indicates that Virginia was gardening and may have become faint,

hit her chin on the power box, the power box hinge, or the large screw sticking

out of the power box and lost her balance, stumbled backwards and collapsed into

the lake where she was found.

There were no signs of forced entry into the house and nothing appeared to be

missing

Virginia was first noticed missing by her niece Ruth Anne Beaver.

Ruth advised me that she speaks to Virginia every morning on her way to work. On

Tuesday September 30, 2014 Virginia was in a foul mood. When Ruth called on

Wednesday and she did not answer, Ruth figured that she must be still in her

mood. However, when Ruth could not reach her on Thursday she became concerned

and called Alex and asked him to go and check on her.

When Alex went to the home he was unable to get Virginia to answer the door.

After looking through windows trying to see inside proved to be unsuccessful,

Alex decided to break into the small window on the front door.

Once he was able to pry the window up, he stuck his arm in and unlocked the

door.

Alex went inside and was unable to locate Virginia inside. Since her car was

parked in the carport, he became worried and called the Sheriff’s Office.

As I entered the house I observed three pieces of mail placed just inside the

door on the floor. Alex advised that sometimes when she comes home from picking

up her mail that she would unlock the door; place the mail inside on the floor,

lock the door and go outside for a walk or to do whatever she had planned for

the day.

The house was neat and clean, with no signs of a struggle. There was a large

jewelry box in a closet that appeared to have been untouched. On the dresser in

her bedroom was a jewelry box with jewels in it and also on the same dresser was

a dish with jewelry in it. Both appeared to have been untouched.

Beside the bed on the night stand was a dish with quarters in it. That too,

appeared to be untouched.

Due to lack of evidence to suggest theft, or forced entry, I have no evidence to

suggest a crime was committed.

I contacted the Medical Examiner’s Office and they picked up the body to

transport to their facility to perform an autopsy on the body to determine the

cause of death.

End of report.

CLEARANCE: Medical Examiner’s report finds manor of death: Accidental. Cause of

death: Drowning. Contributing factor: Severe coronary atherosclerosis.

End of report. Case is closed.

Detective Cari Arnold #26


Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Holds Baby Shower To Benefit Pregnancy Center (AUDIO INTERVIEW INCLUDED)

Kiwanis Club Of Okeechobee Holds Baby Shower To Benefit Pregnancy Center (AUDIO INTERVIEW INCLUDED)

From left to right, Donna Summerall and Bobbi O'Neal from The Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee and Kiwanis presenter Dowling Watford

From left to right, Donna Summerall and Bobbi O’Neal from The Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee and Kiwanis presenter Dowling Watford

The Kiwanis Club of Okeechobee recently held their annual “Baby Shower” to benefit the Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee. The club was able to raise over $1500 in donations and several boxes of diapers, wipes, clothes and more for the Center.

The Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee was founded in 2008 and exists to serve anyone involved in a difficult pregnancy situation

The Goal of the Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee is to:

  • Provide education and support to people in our community as they make important decisions about pregnancy.
  • Create a safe, confidential and caring haven in which options can be provided for women experiencing an unexpected pregnancy.
  • Provide practical services related to pregnancy, childrearing, and relationships.

All services provided at the Pregnancy Center of Okeechobee are confidential and free.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO DONNA SUMMERALL’S COMPLETE INTERVIEW


Charles Murphy News 10/7

News Cast for October 7th:

Noel Stephens and Tony Madrigal

Noel Stephens and Tony Madrigal

Tony Madrigal was named the new head of the Okeechobee County Jail this month following the retirement of long time administrator Ronnie White. Madrigal is a product of Okeechobee high and has worked 27 years in corrections, all but one of them here in Okeechobee.

Madrigal says he feels he has made a career in Okeechobee by moving up the ranks in the jail. Under Sheriff Noel Stephen said the department likes to award good employees with promotions like this. He said Madrigals determination and other assets impressed him. Madrigal says his main goal for the jail is safety for both inmates and employees.

Tony Madrigal and Noel Stephen on jail job

Among arrests, accused abuser of an autistic child, Andrew Wheeler, back in trouble again in jail, arrested for having a fight with another inmate on Friday. Wheeler and 32 year old Armondo Rodriguez were both charged with affray.

A convicted rapist was charged in Glades County with the theft of over 30 thousand dollars in jewels, household items, and guns from a home in Muse. 52 year old Earl Baumgardt faces charges of failure to register as a sex offender, grand theft firearm, second degree grand larceny and possession of explosives by a violent career criminal.

29 year old Robert Cochran was charged with battery and false imprisonment after an alleged incident on the Seminole Reservation.

38 year old Walter Oliver of Indiantown was charged with armed trespass and battery after allegedly entering the Indiantown adult high school last Thursday and throwing a metal chair at a student there.

Hiking Trails Abound in South Florida’s Unique Ecosystems

Sports Cast for October 7th:

Ashley Snyder had 12 service points and six aces to lead Osceola to an impressive 25-7 and 25-6 defeat of the Storm Grove Sting Rays on Monday to run Osceola’s record to 5-3 on the season.

Warriors Coach Lauren Throop said the girls were disappointed in a recent loss and made up for it with some energy and effort. Snyder said even though Osceola had a physical advantage over the Sting Rays they stayed in the game mentally and strived to execute.

Lauren Throop on win over Storm Grove

Ashley Snyder win over Storm Grove

On the sports schedule today, Brighton volleyball will host West Glades at 4:30 pm.

Yearling soccer and volleyball will host Gifford at 4:30 pm.

Lady Brahman golf visits Jensen Beach and Lincoln Park Academy in Jensen. Boys’ golf competes with Sebastian River and John Carroll at the Sebastian Country Club.

OHS swimming meets South Fork at Sailfish Splash.

OHS volleyball will host Fort Pierce Westwood with an early start, JV at 4 and the varsity at 5 pm.

Lots of video footage on our Facebook page!


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