News Cast 1/13

News Cast 1/13

In order to enhance public safety, awareness and protection, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department has announced that a man who is registered as a sex offender has moved into the community. 58 year old James Edward Simpkins has moved into a home on the 47 hundred block of SE Highway 441. He stands five feet, six inches tall, weighs 220 pounds and he has brown hair and blue eyes. Simpkins was convicted on four counts of lewd and lascivious behavior in Hillsborough County in 1995 and he has served the full sentence that was imposed on him by the court system. Sheriff’s officials say this bulletin is used for information purposes only. Citizen abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass Simpkins or other registered sexual offenders in the community will not be tolerated under any circumstances. If you need further information, you can call the Sheriff’s Department or you can log on to the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators website at for more information on Simpkins or any other sexual offenders in your area.

At their first meeting of 2020 on Wednesday, the Okeechobee County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that goes back to the basic rights of people provided by the US Constitution. Commissioners approved the resolution to make Okeechobee County a Second Amendment Sanctuary. Basically it protects residents in the county to want to utilize the Second Amendment for the right to carry and bear arms. Commissioner Bryant Culpepper says this is a deterrent for governmental authorities to come into your home, lock, stock and barrel, and take away people’s rights to legally own firearms. Culpepper says if people can arm themselves illegally and try to harm you or your family, he should have the right to protect himself equally. The substance of this resolution is based on resolutions recently approved by commissioners in other Florida counties including Lake, Wakulla and Hernando.

Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) officers have released the name of the man killed in a vehicle accident during the early morning hours of last Monday in Highlands County and they’re still trying to find the person or people responsible for his death. FHP officers say the man, now identified as 45 year old Dale Ray Strang of Lake Placid, was riding a Honda motorcycle south on Country Road 621 in Lake Placid at around four o’clock when he reportedly collided with a hog that was crossing the road. The impact caused the bike to roll onto its side and overturn, ejecting Strang from the bike. As Strang was lying motionless on the shoulder of the road, the driver of an unknown vehicle that was traveling south on 621 drove right over his body and kept going. Strang was pronounced dead by on-scene medics. If you have any information related to this accident, namely the driver or the vehicle that was used, please contact the FHP office at (239) 938-1800.

Speaking of FHP and Highlands County, a Venus man is dead following a vehicle accident Wednesday afternoon in that area. FHP officers say 28 year old Carlos Martinez-Leon was driving a Ford F-350 pickup truck south on Old State Route 8 south of Pimlico Road in Venus at around 3:30 when he was approaching a right hand curve. Martinez-Leon failed to negotiate the curve properly and went across the road into the northbound lane and then left the roadway. He struck a fence, then a tree, causing his truck to rotate clockwise before finally stopping on the east side of Old State Route 8. Martinez-Leon was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident is being investigated.

On the arrest report:

22 year old Malcolm Jehmal Williams of Okeechobee was arrested by sheriff’s deputies for escaping custody. His bond is set at $15 thousand dollars.

32 year old Pedro Jimenez Lopez of Okeechobee was arrested for disorderly intoxication and causing a public disturbance. His bond is set at five hundred dollars.

29 year old Sami Jones Ward of Okeechobee was arrested for falsely reporting the committing of a crime. Her bond is set at a thousand dollars.

28 year old Christian Arias Jimenez of Okeechobee was arrested for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. He was released after posting a five hundred dollar bond.

22 year old Nicholas Jamal Thompson of Ft. Lauderdale was arrested on several counts of violating probation on past charges of burglary and grand theft. He’s being held without bond.