The Bizarre World of Florida

Man tried to burn down house — with girlfriend inside September 11, 2013

Looks like one man’s effort to heat up his relationship backfired big time.


A woman woke up late Sunday night to a frightening sight: Her live-in boyfriend was dumping gasoline on the living room couch and then walking into other rooms, pouring gasoline over other furniture  along the way, according to a report from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

When the woman ran outside their new Smyrna Beach home, she saw that her Jeep was engulfed in flames, according to the report.

Arriving deputies found the boyfriend, Troy Ladd, standing in the street in front of the house. When they asked him what had happened, Ladd said that he had been in the backyard burning some of his things, then added, “You might as well go ahead and arrest me,” according to the report.

The girlfriend later reportedly told deputies that Ladd had been in their backyard torching his belongings, which included his clothes, TV and a video game system, when she asked him what he was doing.

She also told deputies that she became frustrated after he mumbled something she couldn’t hear so she said to the 49-year-old man, “Why don’t you just kill yourself,” before heading back into the house for some sleep, the report stated.

Although the couple had been going through a rough patch in their relationship, they hadn’t had any recent fights, according to the report.

Luckily, despite the extensive damage to the Jeep and the house, no one was injured.

Authorities said Ladd never tried to wake up his girlfriend  or warn her in any way about the blaze.

Ladd was charged with Attempted Murder, Arson to a Structure Normally Occupied, and Damage to a Structure due to Arson.


Man accused of trying to torch a family alive inside their home August 19, 2013

sfl-flduh-torch-a-family-alive-20130817-001A 24-year old is accused of trying to burn a family alive in their Orange County home.

The fire marshal’s office says Kyle Lee Donaldson lit the fire near Semoran Boulevard and Gatlin Avenue.  Donaldson is behind bars at the Orange County Jail without bond.

The victim says Donaldson was stalking her.

Video shows an arson suspect driving up, crouching behind a neighbor’s truck, and then running away after he allegedly set fire to an Orange County home.

The fire marshal’s office says Donaldson was stalking the girl at the home while she and her parents were inside watching a movie.
The 24-year old man is being charged with three counts of attempted murder.

Eyewitness News stopped by Donaldson’s house to see if family or friends would talk, and found the remains of a car gutted by flames.
Ashley Eubanks said Donaldson stole her car because Donaldson’s friend, Steven Raymond, was fixing it.
“My daughter’s baby pictures were in there,” Eubanks said.

Eubanks drove after Donaldson, but by the time she caught up to him, flames were eating through her car in his driveway.
“Memories that I can never get back are gone now, gone,” Eubanks said.
Raymond said he isn’t convinced Donaldson set the fire, but deputies are.

“The way it was on fire it had to be some sort of an accelerant because the flames were 10 feet high,” Raymond said.
At the house, the victim’s dad was able to put out the flames with a garden hose, then paint over most of the black marks.
Unfortunately, paint won’t do any good for Eubanks.

“I have no car, I have no way to get back and forth to work, my child is in school,” Eubanks said.
Eyewitness News checked Donaldson’s background and found out he’s been charged with several crimes including burglary, grand theft and battery.


Man set fire to Freaky Tiki bar, claimed to rep big beer breweries

sfl-flduh-freaky-tiki-20130818-001A man told Okaloosa County sheriff’s deputies he set fire to the Freaky Tiki bar in order to stay “up to code” on fire extinguishers, according to his arrest report.

A deputy noticed a burning smell near the business on Aug. 13 and investigated.

He found 52-year-old William Joseph Eitel of Fort Walton Beach inside and crouched over a fire that was “steadily growing on the floor of the business,” the arrest report stated.

The deputy extinguished the fire.

Eitel told the deputy he was supposed to be in the business because he was sponsored by Budweiser, Yuengling and Miller beers.

Eitel was charged with loitering or prowling.


Debra Louise Daines apparently didn’t like living next door to a partcular neighbor August 12, 2013

sfl-flduh-neighbors-apartment-20130809-001On 08-06-13, units from Hernando County Fire/Rescue and the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office responded to a Residential Structure Fire at 7882 Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill. Upon arrival, units observed grey smoke billowing from the roof.

Once inside, firefighters quickly determined the residence was not occupied and the origin of the fire was suspicious.

The State Fire Marshal was requested to respond to the scene.

Deputies interviewed neighbors to determine if anyone had seen any suspicious persons or vehicles in the area. Deputy Chris Owens interviewed Debra Daines, who lives next door. Daines told Deputy Owens that she had not seen anyone or anything suspicious, but that she had been in the residence at 7882 Pinehurst Drive earlier that day assisting the landlord, John Timmerman, with the fire extinguisher.

Deputy Owens noted in his report that Daines appeared to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, as she was slurring her speech and she had an odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from her breath.

Deputy Owens contacted the landlord who stated that he was at the residence last week, not earlier that day. The landlord went on to say that the resident of the home, Donald Thayer, was currently in jail, and had been for the last three months.

The State Fire Marshal collected samples of charred debris. The debris will be analyzed to see if accelerants were used to start the fire.

On 08-08-13, while conducting an unrelated investigation, Daines advised Deputy Brian Timothy that she set the fire to the residence at 7882 Pinehurst Drive. She was then transported to the District Two Office for interview with the State Fire Marshal’s Office Investigator and Detective Bill Hillman.

Post Miranda, Daines advised that she set the fire by placing a lit wick from a camping lantern under a sleeping bag that was next to the apartment on the back porch. The fire spread from the porch into the kitchen.

Daines stated that she set the fire because she knew that Mr. Thayer was going to be getting out of jail soon, and she did not want him moving back in next door to her.

Debra L. Daines W/F DOB/02-19-1958 (7888 Pinehurst Drive, Spring Hill) was arrested for Arson to an Occupied Dwelling. Her bond was set at $10,000.


Man blocked firefighters from entering burning home. Why?? Well, he had a grow house July 31, 2013

Filed under: Bad Luck,Drugs,Dumb,Fire,Florida Nut,Funny,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 8:18 pm

On Monday evening, when the St. Petersburg Fire Department arrived to respond to an electrical fire inside a house, they found flames shooting from the home from fire in a locked bedroom and the attic, according to a news release from the St. Petersburg Police Department.

sfl-flduh-extinguish-flames-20130730-001But the home’s resident, Gaetano Rodriguez, who rents the house from his dad, refused to allow firefighters to enter the bedroom to battle the electrical fire, officials said.

The Fire Department workers said they had to forcibly remove the 27-year-old man from the home.

When they broke down the bedroom door, the firefighters found out why they weren’t welcome: There were 75-100 pot plants in the room which housed a pot grow-op, according to police.

Rodriguez’s pot pipe dreams had just gone up in smoke.

Rodriguez initially told cops that he was growing the pot for medicinal use.

Later he ‘fessed up and told them he had intended to sell the pot, according to the Police Department.

He is charged with Obstructing Firefighters and with Cultivation of Marijuana.


Well look at this … senior decided to start his very own fire sale July 23, 2013

sfl-flduh-clothes-on-fire-at-tj-maxx-20130722-001Cape Coral Police arrested 72-year-old Richard Wesko, of North Port, on arson charges Saturday, after he allegedly set clothing on fire at TJ Maxx.

According to the arrest report, officers responded to the store, located on Del Prado Blvd., just before 3:30 p.m. The Cape Coral Fire Department and State Fire Marshal assisted in determining that garments hanging on racks in three different locations within the store were set on fire using a lighter.

Based on witness statements, scene examination and all other information, Wesko was identified as the responsible party. He was charged with Arson in the First Degree, and transported to the Lee County Jail.


This wanna be firefighter is in red hot trouble … he started real $500,000 fire at library

Filed under: Bizzarre,Dangerous Nut,Fire,Florida Nut,Fraud,Really Dumb,WTF? — floridaduh @ 5:12 pm

On 07-06-13, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, along with Hernando County Fire/Rescue, responded to the East Hernando Branch Library, located at 6457 Windmere Road in Brooksville, regarding a structure fire on the rear screened in porch area.

Upon arrival, firefighters observed suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire and believed that someone may have set the fire.

sfl-flduh-fake-firefighter-20130722-001Deputies and firefighters also observed a male, later identified as Joseph Michael Brannen, to be in the immediate area of the fire, wearing bunker gear (gear work by firefighters when fighting a fire). When questioned by deputies about this, Brannen explained that he wanted to be a volunteer firefighter so he purchased the bunker gear from e-Bay. He stated that he heard the call go out over his scanner, so he responded. Brannen was not permitted to assist in fighting the fire.

Authorities estimated the damage to the library to be in excess of $500,000.

The circumstances surrounding the incident led investigators with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshall’s Office to believe that Joseph Brannen may have additional information regarding the incident.

On 07-15-13, detectives with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office contacted Brannen, by phone, and requested to meet with him regarding his involvement in this incident. He advised that he was “unavailable” and would be out of town for six weeks. When questioned about his whereabouts, it was learned that he was in Hillsborough County. Detectives advised they would arrange to visit him there.

On 07-17-13, Detective Royce Leggett went to Brannen’s residence on Windmere Road in Brooksville. Brannen’s aunt advised that he would be out of town for two weeks, but she would be more than happy to go and get him and bring him back for an interview with detectives, as he does not have a license to drive.

On 07-19-13, Joseph Brannen arrived at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and engaged in a voluntary interview with investigators from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshall’s Office.

During the interview, Joseph admitted to setting the fire himself, stating that he wished to return to help extinguish it with the professional firefighters. He provided details as to how he entered the structure and how he set the fire without those details being provided by authorities.

Joseph Michael Brannen W/M DOB/03-31-1995 was charged with Arson and transported to the Hernando County Detention Center. His bond was set at $3,000.

Photos from his Facebook page were placed into evidence, including self taken photos of himself in full bunker gear. He states on his Facebook page that he is employed by Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. During his interview, he stated that his intent by listing that WAS to work there, not that he actually did work there.


“Qualifications?” “Arson…mayhem…throwing lawn gnomes through windows” July 6, 2013

A former New York City cop  and Martin County Courthouse bailiff was arrested Wednesday, suspected in a  string of arsons that has plagued a Jensen Beach neighborhood for  years.

Martin County deputies  took Robert Willmarth, 71, into custody after he allegedly threw a lawn gnome  through the window of a neighbor’s house. He was caught on surveillance  video.

Authorities now believe he  is also involved in a series of suspicious fires. In the past seven years, at  least 10 homes and cars have caught fire in the neighborhood. Locals were  convinced an arsonist was on the loose, and now police think Willmarth was  behind the crimes.

Willmarth spent time  working as a police officer for the New York Police Department, then as a  courthouse bailiff in Martin County. He is now retired.

“Mr. Willmarth’s actions  are not only a disappointment to me, but a disappointment to all of the men and  women who have taken the oath to protect and serve,” Martin County Sheriff  William Snyder said. “Although Mr. Willmarth is no longer an employee of the  Sheriff’s Office, he has brought discredit to his former co-workers and his  chosen profession.”

Willmarth is being held  without bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for Sunday.


Man burned down his own home; tried to trap girlfriend inside June 27, 2013

sfl-flduh-trap-girlfriend-20130626-001David Allen Christopher 8-22-55  of Inglis, Fl was arrested by LCSO Deputies on 6-25-13 in the early morning  hours for Attempted First Degree Murder and Arson.

Deputies responded to 14251  SE 85 Terrace in response to a 911 call from a distraught female. The caller  told communications officers that her boyfriend came home from the bar  intoxicated and they began to argue. While in the living room of the home,  Christopher approached her from behind and poured rubbing alcohol on her and  the floor next to her and attempted to light it with a lighter.

Unable to get  the accelerant to ignite, he went into the bedroom and began to destroy it.  Christopher was able to ignite the mattress while the female hid in the bathroom.  Christopher fled the home and attempted to lock the door lock preventing the victim  from being able to exit.

As the smoke filled the home, the victim was able to  flee to safety by removing the key Christopher left in the lock. Christopher  was located on the property and taken into custody. The home, owned by  Christopher was not able to be saved by fire personnel and was a complete loss. 

Christopher is being held at the Levy County Detention Facility on a 2 million  dollar bond. 


Man accused of trying to set couple in bed on fire June 20, 2013

On 06-15-13 just after midnight, Sylvester Frances Kulaga was released from the Hernando County Detention Center. He had been incarcerated since November on various drug and larceny charges.

On 06-18-13 at approximately 6 a.m., Kulaga went to the residence where he formerly lived with an ex-girlfriend, Lisa Massey. Massey and her new boyfriend, James Mullis, were just waking up and preparing to begin the day.

Before they knew it, Kulaga opened a window and unlocked the door, gaining entry into Massey’s residence. Once inside he kicked in the bedroom door. While both victims were lying in bed, Kulaga doused them with lighter fluid. Kulaga also had in his possession a lighter and a can of spray paint. After dousing the victims, he attempted to start a fire by spraying the paint in their direction and igniting it.

Lisa Massey jumped out of bed and lunged at Kulaga in an attempt to stop him from starting a fire. A roommate who was sleeping, Marvin Harvey, heard the commotion and came to assist. He also observed Kulaga attempting to ignite the stream of spray paint. When Harvey attempted to stop Kulaga, Kulaga grabbed him by the throat, squeezed his throat, and threw him out of the bedroom.

Eventually, Massey and Harvey were able to overpower Kulaga and push him out of the residence. Kulaga fled on foot.

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of


Sylvester Frances Kulaga “Quigley”

W/M DOB/08-13-1960

Height/6’00″, Weight/230.

Charges are as follows:

- Attempted 1


st Degree Murder (2 counts)

- Battery

If you know the whereabouts of this individual, please call the Detective Elizabeth Tinkham at 352-754-6830.

Please do not approach this subject as he should be considered dangerous.



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