The Bizarre World of Florida

Child Abuse Investigation Results in Sex Offender’s Arrest April 28, 2014

The Levy County Sheriff’s Office responded to a child abuse complaint on April 22, 2014. The subsequent investigation led to the identification of registered sex offender, Reggie Kearney, as the suspect. Bobbie Jo Gibbs, the child’s mother, was also identified as a suspect.

kearney gibbs

Kearney and Gibbs co-habited at a home located in Chiefland. Kearney was a registered sex offender who was supposed to be residing in Gainesville. The child, a 6 year old boy, was with his biological father who discovered severe bruising on the child’s legs. The father reported his findings to law enforcement. The investigation revealed Kearney spanked the child with a belt for disobeying him and playing a video game. The child had injuries more severe and inconsistent with normal discipline.

Investigators arrested Kearney and charged him with one count of felony child abuse and failure to register an address as a convicted sex offender. Gibbs, who had witnessed the abuse and did not intervene, was charged with one count of child neglect. Kearney is being held at the Levy County Detention Facility on a $150,000 bond and Gibbs is being held on a $50,000 bond.


Mom On Crack Binge Gives Birth In Motel Bathtub, Chews Through Umbilical Cord April 16, 2014

A premature baby born Friday night in a motel bathtub after his mother said she went on a crack cocaine binge remains in critical condition on a ventilator at UF Heatlh Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

The Florida Department of Children and Families has taken custody of the baby and his 11-month-old brother, DCF spokeswoman Kristi Gray said. The baby’s brother has been placed in foster care.

Chrystal-Hassell-125x188Their 37-year-old mother, Chrystal A. Hassell, is on suicide watch at the Marion County Jail, meaning she is under constant supervision. She faces a charge of child neglect. She will be evaluated by medical professionals and will get whatever assistance she needs, Gray said, and the agency will work with her.

On Saturday, hours after her arrest, Hassell said she has been using drugs since she was a teenager, including while pregnant. She said she has a 16-year-old daughter who was born addicted to drugs. She said she did not know she was pregnant with her third child until early March when she felt movement in her stomach. She went to Munroe Regional Medical Center for a checkup and was told she was approximately six to seven months pregnant.

Hassell said she decided not to smoke crack but the cravings were too great. The day before her baby was born, she went on a binge. She said she had the child in a bathtub at Vacation Host Inn on South Pine Avenue and cut the umbilical cord with her teeth. She said the baby began turning blue so she called 911.

Vincent Terry, 43, the father of the baby and his brother, is at the Marion County Jail on a warrant out of El Pasco County, Colo., for domestic violence, attempted murder and a violation of probation on possession of a Schedule II controlled substance.

Terry said Tuesday during an interview at the jail that he did not know his girlfriend was abusing drugs for 24 hours before their baby was born. He said she told him she was tired and wanted to lie down.

“I knew she had a history of doing drugs, but not that she was doing drugs. She just found out she was pregnant,” he said.

Terry said he and Hassell attended a court hearing Tuesday to determine the status of their two children. He said his family provided the names of immediate family members whom the children can stay with and that DCF officials plan to do background checks to see if they qualify to take care of them.

Though no case plan has been arranged, Vincent said they should be able to have visitation with the children but that will depend on the outcome of their cases as well what kinds of programs they have to complete.

Terry said they have settled on a name for the baby, which he would not reveal, and that someone from the hospital is supposed to call and get the name so they can sign the birth certificate.

As for the charges he faces, Terry said he was not aware of the attempted murder and domestic violence charges and he thought his probation had ended on the drug possession charge. He said he has signed extradition papers and will go to Colorado to face the charges.

Terry said he and his girlfriend have several problems facing them, such as finding a place to live, but that he is looking forward to a life with Hassell and believes they can overcome any obstacle.

“Of course we’re going to stay together. My kids are here. She’s not a bad person. She just got a problem and, together, we’ll fight it,” he said.


Texas mom sent 8-year-old on beer run in Key West April 14, 2014

sfl-flduh-mom-beer-run-key-wset-20140413-001 A mother of two from Sugar Land is in a Florida jail cell after a family vacation that reportedly spun out of control.

Suzanne Simon was arrested Thursday in Key West, FL, on suspicion of felony child neglect.

Police say the 38-year-old environmental engineer smelled of booze and slurred her words when she was taken into custody.

According to a police report, Simon kicked a 12-year-old boy out of the car on popular Duval Street without any shoes. She allegedly did so because the boy was reading the GPS incorrectly.

The report also states that Simon sent an 8-year-old girl out of the car in search of more beer.

Police haven’t officially identified Simon as the mother of the children. However, those who know Simon confirm that the kids belong to her.

“I’m nervous. Where are the kids? I want to know where the kids are. Did she just leave them on the street and take off,” questioned Simon’s friend Mary Lou. “She never mistreated the kids. Never.”

Mary Lou says the father of both kids died in a motorcycle accident years ago.

She didn’t know Simon had gone on vacation but claims Simon called her a couple of weeks ago and said she was lonely.

“What was she doing over there? The kids were in school,” said Mary Lou. “If you find the kids, bring them to me. I’ll take care of them. Those kids are real sweet.”

The little girl reportedly told police that she found a beer on the sidewalk and brought it to Simon. The investigating officer alleges that Simon smacked the girl on her forehead at one point, leaving a red mark.

“I can’t believe Suzanne would do something like that. That’s not Suzanne,” added Mary Lou.

Police say the 12-year-old boy was picked up by two strangers and brought back to his hotel.

News of Simon’s alleged actions after a day of drinking made headlines in the Citizen Newspaper in the Keys.

The newspaper says Simon told an officer that “he should put the boy in juvenile detention as a runaway.”

“Knowing that she kicked him out of the car in the middle of Key West, Florida, I think that’s insane,” said Courtney Maris, who knows Simon.

Courtney Maris’ ex husband went on to marry Simon. That marriage, too, ended in divorce.

Maris says she has had a tumultuous relationship with Simon along the way.

“She was saying terrible things to me about what a terrible mother I was because I hadn’t seen my son. I’m here taking care of my children,” explained Maris.

KHOU 11’s attempts to reach Simon’s family were unsuccessful.

Simon is currently locked up at the Stock Island jail on $5,000 bond. Authorities have not said where the children are.


Mother made her children regurgitate food and then eat it again, held her children’s heads underwater and pretty much tortured them for 8 years March 29, 2014

A mother starved, beat and tortured her two-16-year-old children for more than eight years, police have said.

Jamie Marie Hicks, 43, allegedly inflicted cruelty on the two children at her home in North Tampa, Florida while their stepfather, 53-year-old Vernon Courtney Lovell, looked on and did nothing.

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Arrested: Jamie Hicks, left, has been accused of abusing her two 16-year-old children for more than eight years, while her husband Vernon Lovell, right, allegedly knew about the abuse but did nothing to help them

She hit them with various objects, choked them to the point of unconsciousness and held their heads under water, according to a police report reported in the Tampa Bay Times.

She also withheld food from them for up to three days at a time, they told police, and on other occasions, she fed them spoiled food or made them regurgitate food and then eat it again.

The alleged abuse came to light when the children went to Mary Lee’s House, a nonprofit child protection organization, where they told child advocates about what they had endured.

The children, whose genders have not been released, said their mother abused them while their stepfather failed to seek medical attention, even though he was aware of the abuse.

A pediatric nurse carried out a physical examination of the children on Thursday and found signs of severe malnutrition and both were hospitalized, according to police.

One of the children weighed 88 pounds and the other weighed 94 pounds, whereas a healthy weight for their age is 135 pounds.

Lovell has lived with Hicks and the children for 13 years, the report said.

Both are being held without bail.

Hicks, who worked as manager of her husband’s handyman services company, was being held in the Hillsborough County Jail on Friday on aggravated child abuse charges.

Lovell also remains in the jail and faces accusations of child neglect.


News flash: Don’t expect to catch 40 winks at a 60-second red light March 11, 2014

sfl-flduh-honk-wake-up-20140310-001A woman who showed up drunk to pick her children at a day care in Deltona was arrested, Volusia County deputies said.

A motorist called deputies to report that Lisa Vantunen, 45, was driving on the wrong side of Providence Boulevard and followed Vantunen to a day care at Faith Baptist Church. When deputies got to church at Providence Boulevard and Voyager Street, deputies found the vehicle with the door open and the engine running, a report shows.

Vantunen was seen exiting the day care with two small children and when deputies approached the vehicle, they found Vantunen pressing hard on the brakes trying to shift into gear, the report said.

When Vantunen stepped out of the vehicle, she stumbled and almost fell. Deputies also noticed that she had an abrasion on her knee and Vantunen told them she had fallen down when she got to the day care, deputies said.

Vantunen said she had been drinking all day Friday and smelled of alcohol, deputies said.

A day care worker was asked to care for the children until their grandmother, traveling from Port St. Lucie, could arrive, sheriff’s investigators said.

The motorist who reported Vantunen said she kept falling asleep at intersections and swerving all over the road, almost hitting pedestrians. At one time, motorists had to honk their horns to wake her up, the witness told investigators.


Drunken mom tried to pick up kids at school, fell short of goal March 6, 2014

sfl-flduh-drunken-mom-road-20140305-001 A 35-year-old woman was so drunk when she went to pick up her daughters at school Monday that she fell in the street as she tried to get in her car, leaving the girls — ages 4 and 5 — alone by the side of the road near traffic, an arrest report shows.

Lindsey Scanlon was arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect without great harm after an employee at Lourdes Academy on North Halifax Drive called the Department of Children & Families, the report shows. Scanlon showed up at the school after 6:30 p.m. slurring her speech and having difficulty walking, the report shows. A school official called DCF because there is an open case on Scanlon with the state agency, the report shows.

When DCF worker Shawn Gillard arrived at the school, she saw Scanlon’s children on the side of the road in the dark attempting to help their mother get up, the report shows. But because the children are so small, they could not lift the 100-pound Scanlon, the report states. Gillard told police that the youngsters were standing less than 5 feet from the road, which had “heavy flowing traffic.”

Scanlon had a 2010 conviction for reckless driving, court records show. She is in custody at the Volusia County Branch Jail.


Cops: Mom left boy in car ….. why? …. well to steal Valentine’s items from Target January 30, 2014

sfl-flduh-mom-boy-car-steal-valentines-2014012-001A Titusville woman was arrested on child neglect and retail theft charges, police say, after she left her 6-year-old in the car while she shoplifted Valentine’s items from Target.

26-year-old Patricia Waddell made her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon at the Brevard County Jail.

Target employees tell Local 6 they saw the boy in the car around 5:30 p.m. Monday with the windows rolled up and the car turned off.

At first, police said they thought Waddell was shopping inside the Target. But after officers arrested her on child neglect charges, they searched her belongings and found $15 worth of stolen Valentine’s Day merchandise.

Arrest documents show Waddell is currently on probation and was supposed to appear in court Wednesday on another retail theft allegation, but because she was arrested Monday, it was canceled.

The judge told Waddell on Tuesday she isn’t allowed to have unsupervised contact with the 6-year-old and is banned from all Targets in Brevard County.

Local 6 was told the child wasn’t hurt and is staying with his grandmother.

The Department of Children and Families is investigating.


This I would think is a bad idea … have them help you beat the manager of the store you just robbed January 17, 2014

1389928370366Police are searching for a woman and two children accused of robbing a Family Dollar store in Volusia County. Then, the woman and one of the children allegedly attacked a store manager who tried to stop them.

Now that manager is facing disciplinary action.

Police said the unidentified woman entered the store on Nova Road in Holly Hill Wednesday evening. An assistant manager told police she watched the woman make some selections, put a “50 percent sale” sticker on a toy and head to the register to ask for a price check.

The manager told the woman the toy was not on sale. When the suspect tried to leave the store with several items still in her cart she was stopped. The woman handed over the items, and she and the two children — a 1-year-old and a 7-year-old — left the store without buying anything.

A little while later the manager told police the woman returned with the children, filled a shopping bag and walked out without paying.

The assistant manager went to the parking lot to write down the tag number on the woman’s car. She then called 911. That’s when police say the suspect attacked the manager, punching her in the face. The manager said the woman told the older child to join in and attack the manager.

Police said the woman and child then got in the car, backed out of the parking lot toward the manager, put the car in drive, appeared to try and hit the manager again, then left the parking lot.

“She was very scared. She was very shocked,” said Brandon Davis, store manager. “She didn’t think before she reacted. Once you see something happen like that, you get that adrenaline, oh I’m going to  get this person. I’m going to get this person but you don’t know what you’re going to get when you go chasing them.”

The car was found at a home in Daytona Beach. Police said the car belonged to someone else, who claimed he loaned the car to his granddaughter.

The woman is in her early 30s, 5 foot 6 inches tall with a large build, dark skin and black hair in a ponytail. She was wearing a long-sleeved light green shirt and blue jeans. She had a 7 to 8-year-old and a 1-2 year old with her.

If you know anything, you are asked to call CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida at (888) 277-TIPS.


Hog-hunting mama left infant, young boy in freezing car

A mother was arrested on child neglect charges after deputies say she left an six-month-old baby and a nine-year-old in the car while she went hog-hunting.

140116041844_Kayla-ShaversAccording to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, it was around 7 a.m. Thursday morning when the nine-year-old called 911 for help.

He was freezing, he said, because the car he and the baby were in was off, and it was 38 degrees outside.

After 30 minutes of being in the car, he figured “a police car would be warmer”, the boy explained when the deputies arrived.

The deputies say they found the car parked on the side of a dark, isolated road. The boy was shivering when he got out- wearing only a long sleeve shirt, and no coat.

Nearly 40 minutes went by before the mother, 30-year-old Kayla Shavers, walked out of the woods.

She reportedly defended herself to the deputies, saying she was hunting the hogs because they’ve been tearing up the property, and stayed near by in case the kids needed her.

She was arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect.


Mother arrested after leaving child near mailbox January 13, 2014

Erin_Carnes_20140113013656_320_240Manatee County deputies say a mother left her child near a mailbox outside of a home that she believed was the current residence of the baby’s father. Erin Carnes dropped the 1-year-old at the 1600 block of 17th Street East near a mailbox.

Carnes returned to the location again, dropped two bags for the baby and left again.

The person staying at the residence says that she was never given the child, nor agreed to take the child.

Carnes was later involved in an accident on the Green Bridge and threatened to jump off the bridge.

After returning to the station officers learned of the incident involving the child and alerted the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

The child is now in the custody of the her grandmother. Carnes remains in jail.



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