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The Bizarre World of Florida

Deputies: Heartsick teen staged her own abduction May 1, 2014

lavenderThe 16-year-old girl who told her parents she was pulled into a truck by two men Tuesday night has admitted she made up the story to try to get sympathy from her ex-boyfriend, Clay County Sheriff’s Office Col. Craig Aldrich said on Wednesday morning.

Investigators said the girl had recently separated with her boyfriend and was actively evading being found during a short but intensive search for her.

Authorities say Ankita Lavender called her father around 7:20 p.m. claiming she had been abducted near Ridaught and County Road 220.

LISTEN: Parents’ 911 call to Clay County Sheriff’s Office

Lavender’s mother called the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, saying, “The father is talking to her right now and she says she was kidnapped by two guys in a pickup truck.”

Officials said the phone had been shut off after Lavender made the initial call.
Over the next couple of hours, 40 Clay County deputies assisted by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helicopter searched the area north of Middleburg for any sign of the girl. An Amber Alert was issued, but public notifications were not made before she was located.

About 10:25 p.m., a motorist driving on Henley Road at the intersection of Carlotta spotted a girl lying on her back on the shoulder of the road — less than one mile from where Lavender claimed she was abducted — and called 911.

Deputies said Lavender was emotionally upset and complaining of injuries from being thrown from the vehicle. She was taken to Orange Park Medical Center to be examined.

When questioned by detectives, Lavender admitted making up the story. She said she was despondent over her break up with her boyfriend and “decided to play the sympathy card.”

Neighbor Tanja Bennett, who lives just down the street from Lavender, said the neighborhood was lit up Tuesday night by the search light of a helicopter searching for the teen.

“I’m locking the doors, making sure everything is secure, and you know, I just went to bed thinking about it,” Bennett said. “Because it was late when we were reading about it. It was the last thing on my mind.”

Prosecutors will review the case for possible charges such as filing a false police report, a misdemeanor.

“My personal opinion is that she should be charged, but that’s a matter for the state attorney’s office,” Aldrich said.

Aldrich said the Sheriff’s Office throws all available resources at a missing juvenile case like this, “because you never know which ones are legitimate.”
He estimates Tuesday night’s search cost $5,000-$6,000, and they will seek reimbursement from the family through the courts.

 

Teacher Fired for Orchestrating Attack on Seventh Grade Student April 15, 2014

teacherAfter Florida teacher Dru Dehart got into an argument with seventh-grade student Radravious Williams, Dehart allegedly ordered a pack of older teens to attack Williams.

Dehart, who claims that Williams threatened her, is a veteran teacher at Northport K-8 School in Port St. Lucie.

Security camera footage from inside the school shows Dehart pointing to Williams and walking away. Mere moments later, a group of boys surrounds the teen and assaults him.

As the boys beat him up, Williams falls to the floor. The attack left him injured and traumatized.

Dehart was suspended without pay last fall.

On Thursday, after half an hour’s deliberation, the county’s school board came to the unanimous decision to fire Dehart.

David Miklas, a school district representative, said that Dehart “made a very poor decision that day” in using “students to carry out discipline.”

 

Vampires, nudists, snakes: Nobody does wacky like Florida April 7, 2014

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By: Scott Maxwell

Last week, news broke that a congressional candidate in Gainesville had a secret pastime: impersonating vampires. And superheroes.

Some people would call this nutty.

In Florida, we just call it Tuesday.

Seriously, that’s not even our highest-profile vampire story. Remember the “vampire killings” from Lake County?

Some of our stories are heartbreakingly tragic. But so many are also mind-numbingly strange.

In Florida, we do weird the way Kansas does wheat.

Here, giant pet snakes escape. And breed. And then invade our national parks.

We have fish that eat people, alligators that eat people and people who eat people.

Two years ago, when news of the “cannibal attack” broke, the nation let out a collective gasp … until learning it was Miami. Then it all made sense.

We have killer amoebas, hanging chads and diaper-wearing astronauts. (All of which would make awesome rock-band names, by the way.)

We have a town named Christmas … where it never snows. We have the world’s smallest post office and a couple trying to build America’s largest house.

I used to think Florida attracted wacky people. Now I think it creates them.

Take my grandfather, for example.

Early in his life, he was a NASA engineer in Virginia — and as strait-laced and buttoned-down as they came. His passions were photography and crossword puzzles.

Then he moved to Florida. After Grandma died, we worried that our sober and contemplative grandfather would become listless and uninspired.

He became neither of those things. Instead, he became a nudist. (Lending more credence to the notion that it’s never the people you want to see naked at a nudist resort.)

At first, we were all: What the heck, Granddad?

But you know what? He found new life and inspiration. He’d travel down Interstate4 from Ormond Beach to Cypress Cove, where he’d pay strict adherence to the two main rules: Never take pictures, and always place a towel on the bar stool before you sit down.

Florida liberated him. And he spent the remaining, widowed years of his life happy. So you go, Granddad.

By the way, nudity is another one of our weird themes.

•”Nude man found dead on killer whale’s back”

•”Florida Lotto winner seeks to open a nude dude ranch”

•”Blind woman sues nudist colony over heavy dog”

Florida newspapers carry such headlines the way other papers carry horoscopes.

Some of that is understandable. It’s hot down here.

And I don’t mean happy, sand-at-your-toes, wind-in-your-hair hot. I mean sweaty-thighs-stuck-to-your-car-seats, armpit-stains-like-dinner-plates hot. It’s enough to make anyone nutty. And naked.

But it cuts both ways. When it’s hot, it makes us crazy. When it’s pleasant, we attract other states’ crazies. I mean, if it’s January and you’re already planning to run a scam, con or heist, would you rather do it in Buffalo or Boynton Beach?

This state is also lousy with newspapers and TV stations, meaning we have more ink-stained wretches and blow-dried broadcasters than your average state to tell all the weird stories.

Finally, there’s our melting-pot effect.

You simply can’t throw so many different cultures together and not expect some fireworks.

But you know what? That is also part of what makes this state so splendidly unique.

We have character and texture — a bouillabaisse of native and newcomer, sinner and saint, scholar and simpleton.

It’s a fusion that produces a weeklong bacchanalia in Key West and pioneering medical research at the Burnham Institute.

It’s the reason Orlando can turn out just as many people for a Veterans Day parade as it does for Come Out With Pride.

And it explains how a mild-mannered rocket engineer can feel inspired to start a new life by ditching his pocket protector — along with everything else he’s wearing.

And, yes, it’s also how we end up with some of the wackiest politicians in America — including a vampire-impersonating, superhero-mimicking, punk-rock lawyer running for Congress.

Just what we need … another lawyer in Congress.

 

Man, 83, was having a bad day … he fights off three attackers then has his car stolen the next day April 2, 2014

poorguy_12881527_8colAn 83-year-old Pinellas Park man who was ambushed, beaten and stabbed by three teenagers is a victim again! This time it looks like those same suspects came back and stole his car.

All of this started Tuesday around 10 a.m. when Charles Clark was getting out of his car at his apartment complex, when one of the suspects came from behind and started beating him and then stabbed him. Another person tried to beat Clark as well, but Clark was able to fight him off. He then screamed for help and once neighbors noticed what was going on, the three teens fled on their bikes.

At the time police didn’t think the teens were able to steal anything, but Clark said he thought they wanted his car. It turns out the suspects did steal his car keys and at some point late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, police believe they returned and took off in Clark’s car.

Around 4 a.m. police noticed Clark’s car was missing and found three bicycles near his parking spot. His vehicle was later found abandoned in a St. Petersburg neighborhood. It is currently being processed for evidence.

Police describe the suspects as two teenage boys — one in his early teens and the other in his late teens — and a girl in her early to mid teens with a heavier build and reddish, brown hair which she was seen continually trying to stuff into a gray hooded sweatshirt.

Below are surveillance images of two of the suspects riding bikes shortly before Tuesday’s attack:

 

Student, 15, Arrested For Squirting Hand Sanitizer In Teacher’s Diet Coke March 21, 2014

nicholaslucariA Florida student, 15, was arrested this week for putting hand sanitizer in a teacher’s Diet Coke can, police report.

Nicholas Lucari is facing a felony charge for allegedly squirting “Germ-X” into Dale Dawson Yount’s drink. The South Walton High School teacher, 69, subsequently “became physically ill” and she sought treatment at a local hospital, according to a Walton County Sheriff’s Office report.

daleyountInvestigators allege that Lucari, pictured above, “did willfully, intentionally, and with the intent to injure” add the hand sanitizer to Yount’s beverage. As a result, the teen was busted on a poisoning rap.

Lucari, cops noted, has been “suspended from school pending an expulsion hearing.” The student has been described as a “prankster” who did not intend to harm Yount, who is seen at left.

Like many hand sanitizers, the active ingredient in “Germ-X” is ethyl alcohol.

 

Teenage girl hosted a wild alcohol-fueled party that saw 5 teens taken to the hospital while dad slept! March 17, 2014

article-2582126-1C5876E900000578-586_306x423Five teenagers were rushed to hospital from an alcohol fueled party thrown by a teenage girl – while her father claimed he slept through it all.

Two of the teens are said to be in a critical condition with reports they had mixed alcohol with the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

Neighbors saw the teens being wheeled away on gurneys into waiting ambulances while dozens of others teens fled when police arrived.

Steve Miller, whose teen daughter hosted the party and was among those rushed to hospital, told local TV he was asleep while as many as 100 people crammed into his home.

Miller, a father of six, claimed he had no idea there would be alcohol at the party – but did not say if he had checked.

He insisted he slept through all the noise as 100 teens flocked to his home in Winter Garden, Florida.

‘If my daughter told me they were going to have alcohol I wouldn’t have permitted it,’Miller said.

‘I didn’t see any drugs.’

Police said the teenagers taken to hospital had passed out from drink but fear they may have also taken drugs.

‘We found five teenagers who appeared to have overdosed on alcohol and we are not sure of what type of drug right now,’said Lt. Paul Hopkins from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators said they spotted numerous underage kids partying at the home.

They said one was unconscious and five were sickened, apparently from drinking too much alcohol.

The victims were boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 17.

Neighbors were stunned by the scenes in their road on Friday night and said they were kept awake by the noise.

‘I’ve been living here 30 years, and I’ve never really seen anything going on over there. It just surprises me. I’m like, ‘Wow.’ Hopefully, the kids  are going to be OK,’ a neighbor said.

Deputies said the conditions of the teens had improved over the weekend and they said the parents apparently didn’t know someone had brought alcohol  into the home.

Doreen Blume said Miller’s daughter was one of the hospitalized teens.

Blume said Miller did the right thing.

‘He confiscated all kinds of alcohol, big bottles,’ Blume said.

Other neighbors said deputies have been to the home before.

The Department of Children and Families has launched an investigation because of concerns about alcohol and supervision.

 

Mom lured into garage by 13-year-old daughter where girl’s teen boyfriend slit her throat March 11, 2014

Yaquelin-Galvez-Don-125x188A woman had her throat slit early Sunday morning by her teenage daughter’s boyfriend, investigators say, after her daughter lured her into the garage of their Ocala home.

The attacker then went into the home, held the knife to the girl’s father’s throat and threatened to kill him, but instead was persuaded to take the bleeding woman to a hospital, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

The 15-year-old boyfriend dropped the woman at the emergency room at Munroe Regional Medical Center, where hospital officials called the Sheriff’s Office. The woman was then transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center, where she works as a physical therapist, and underwent life-saving surgery.

The father was uninjured, according to Marion sheriff’s spokesman Judge Cochran.

Cochran said the incident occurred at about 5 a.m. at a home on Northwest 55th Place. The juveniles were arrested hours later. The Star-Banner is withholding the names of all involved because the accused are juveniles.

An arrest affidavit states that at first the teen told detectives that he was walking by the house, heard the commotion and went to investigate.

The boy then later told detectives that he and the 13-year-old girl planned the attack last week, reports state. The boy then laid out the entire plan, from beginning to end, for detectives in a recorded interview. He said they first talked on the telephone and then on Facebook, working on details of where the “ambush” would take place. They both decided that the garage would be the best place.

The girl had him take off his shoes when he came into the house because they made noise. She helped him find a knife in the kitchen before hiding him in the garage, the teen told detectives.

The boyfriend told the mother, after she had been lured into the garage, that he and the girl wanted to be together and that he could take care of the 13-year-old. He also told her that she should not have hit him with a stick previously.

The teen then slashed the woman across the neck with the kitchen knife, the report states, before going into the house to confront the woman’s husband.

The teen drove the wounded woman to the hospital, making her promise along the way that he and her daughter could be together and that she would not sue him because of the incident.

Both teens were arrested on two counts each conspiracy to commit murder and one count each of attempted murder in the second degree. They were being held without bond at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center.

 

 
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