News Cast 1/21

News Cast for January 21st:

The Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office would like to pay tribute to one of our longtime employees. Charles “Charlie” Andrews, age 86, started with the sheriff’s office in 1982. Charlie retired in 1997 as a Lieutenant in the jail. Charlie was loved by many and will be remembered for his infectious smile and sense of humor.

Charles “Charlie” Andrews

Sheriff Noel E. Stephen stated, “Lt. Andrews was a leader to many of us in the late eighties. He molded us into the men/women and officers we are today. I will be forever grateful and will forever remember him. Godspeed Lt.”

Rest in Peace Charlie!

Michele Bell, PIO

Okeechobee man dies after being tied to murder case

A cold case homicide which occurred in 1984 in Fort Myers has been tied by DNA evidence to an Okeechobee man, Fort Myers Police said.

Claretha Gibbs, 31, was shot to death in Fort Myers on June 26, 1984. A rag with the suspect’s DNA was recovered during the investigation.

Police submitted the rag to DNA Labs International and a full DNA profile of the suspect was obtained and entered into the FBI national DNA database. Still there were no hits as the suspect had not been entered into the system. Not deterred, police submitted the DNA sample to Parabon Snapshot to provide a profile using genealogy research.

In July, 2020, Parabon indicated the DNA profile belonged to James Glen Drinnon, 65, of Okeechobee. Okeechobee County Sheriff Deputies said the address appears to be in Glades County.

Fort Myers Police later obtained a DNA sample from Drinnon’s trash and sent it off to the lab for verification. Lawmen said it matched the DNA collected from the scene of Gibbs death. Police said Drinnon provide a statement to them on January 13 and admitted to shooting and killing Gibbs.

Drinnon stated Gibbs was a prostitute and he picked her up to engage in sexual intercourse.  He claimed that Gibbs pulled a gun on him to rob him, they fought over the gun and Gibbs was shot. Drinnon added that he fled the scene and discarded the gun out the window of his vehicle.Police said Drinnon died at his home on January 18.  They have not released any details on the death.

City has dealt with COVID cases

Okeechobee city council agreed to provide 10 calendar days off with pay for those employees that test positive for COVID.

During this pandemic the city police department has had nine officers test positive. All were put into quarantine after the positive test with no interaction or calls for service afterward. There have been a few cases at public works but no cases at city hall.

Administrator Marco Montes De Oca said the city health plan covers the costs of the COVID tests.

They have been using the urgent care clinic near city hall to conduct the tests.

City Police Chief Bob Peterson said he wanted department heads to have some leeway in this policy. He noted it would be difficult if many of his officers or dispatchers got COVID because they are not easily replaced in a small department.