The Bizarre World of Florida

Businessman ‘tortured and killed his female boss with a MOP’ because she owed him money April 30, 2012

A man has been charged with homicide after he allegedly tortured and bludgeoned to death his boss after showing up at work with his murder weapons.

The brutal killing is thought to have been related to a dispute over money.

Jose R. Rojas arrived at his office in Coral Gables, Florida on Friday carrying a bag full of a deadly array of tools including duct tape, a wooden mop handle and a pellet gun, which he had bought on his way in to work, police said.

There he allegedly waited for his boss, Frances C. Venezia, and a colleague, Robert James, wearing a wool hood and gloves, pouncing on them when they entered the room.

Gruesome: Jose R. Rojas allegedly tortured and killed his boss, Frances C. Venezia, (pictured) and a colleague, Robert James


Gruesome: Jose R. Rojas allegedly tortured and killed his boss, Frances C. Venezia and a colleague, Robert James

He bound and gagged the pair, forcing Venezia, 59, to write him a cheque from her checking account, the Miami Herald reported.

In a police report Rojas admitted to hitting Venezia and James with the mop handle when they called out for help.

He claimed to have no recollection of what happened next, other than that there were pools of blood in the office and on his clothes.

Scene: The office building where Rojas and his victims worked and also the scene of the crime

Scene: The office building where Rojas and his victims worked and also the scene of the crime


Deadly bag: Rojas allegedly stopped off at a store to buy his weapons on the way to work

Deadly bag: Rojas allegedly stopped off at a store to buy his weapons on the way to work

Rojas fled the scene and was later found by police responding to a calls from people within the building who had heard the victims’ yells.

Mystery: It is not known what drove Rojas (pictured) to kill his boss and colleague thought it is believed to have been over money

Mystery: It is not known what drove Rojas (pictured) to kill his boss and colleague thought it is believed to have been over money

He was covered in blood and attempted to run from officers when they approached him.

His victims were found dead in the office with duct tape and rags over their mouths, their hands and feet bound with rags.

Their injuries that suggested they had suffered ‘multiple lacerations’ and ‘blunt trauma’ according to the police report.

It added that ‘an air soft pellet gun’ that had ‘the characteristics of a semi-automatic pistol’ were also found at the scene, alongside the wooden mop handle.

Investigators later found found a bloody bag of clothing on a sidewalk near the offices, believed to have been dropped by Rojas as he fled.

Venezia’s business, Professional Public Insurance Adjuster, is run from the same building on Monterey Street as Certified Inventory Services, LLC, where Rojas is vice president.

The mother-of-two opened the insurance business in 1998.

Police have not yet identified what drove Rojas to kill his business partner in the gruesome slaying but Cbs Local reported that it is thought to have been over money.

He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, armed kidnapping and attempted armed robbery.

A judge on Sunday denied him bond.


Parents pen a bucket list for dying baby

Filed under: Uncategorized — floridaduh @ 1:20 pm

Avery Canahuati is only 5 months old and her doctors say, at best, she will get only 13 months more. So her parents are filling the fleeting days with as many memories as they can while taking Avery’s story, and her “bucket list,” .


What could’ve caused Jamie Geer to turn into a sex offender?

Filed under: Uncategorized — floridaduh @ 1:19 pm

The former Clearwater fire chief is set to spend the rest of his life in prison after he was found guilty Friday of sexually abusing a young girl he knew for nearly a decade.


Couple tie the knot at their ‘big ol’ muddy redneck wedding’. Huh?????

Filed under: Amazing,Bizzarre,Brides,Fun,Really Dumb,Unusual,WTF? — floridaduh @ 1:13 pm

Love and mud were in the air Saturday afternoon in Putnam County.

St. Johns County resident Kodie Umphenour, 24, and Interlachen native Carina Pasco, 31, were married just after 1 p.m. in the same Hog Waller Mud Bog & ATV mud pit where he proposed to her one year ago.

The county-crossed lovers met on a dating site a little more than a year ago, finding they shared a common passion: mud-bogging.

“He’ll do anything for anybody,” Umphenour’s best man, Stephan Doty, said before the wedding, with the groom’s sister, Autumn Umphenour, with him on a four-wheeler in the ceremony’s precession. “He doesn’t know a stranger.”

To the Umphenours and many among the more than 1,000 onlookers Saturday, the word “redneck” bears neither shame nor negativity.

“I loved it,” said the groom’s cousin, 14-year-old Micaila Smith, of the ceremony. “Our side of the family are all rednecks, so we’re right at home here.”

The new couple sent out invitations asking people to attend “Our Big Ol’ Muddy Redneck Wedding.”

Longtime friend of Kodie Umphenour, Gerald Drozdowski Jr. smiled as the groom scooped up his new bride for family photos.

“That’s a good kid right there,” Drozdowski said of Kodie. “He’s as redneck as they come, and he is a work horse. If it were my daughter he married, I’d be proud.”

Wedding guests and independent mud-boggers alike laughed and threw globs of wet dirt at one another before the nuptials. But the start of the wedding brought a near hush over the large crowd, some members of which folded their hands and smiled while watching the event.

As requested by a pre-wedding broadcast over the park’s loudspeaker, not one engine was revved during the ceremony.

But as applause broke and the bride descended a metal ladder in her camouflage print wedding gown, a symphony of motors cheered the union.

In a trailer about 40 yards away from the pit in which her son married minutes before, Lisa Umphenour showed off a pastoral-themed, triple-tiered wedding cake and two drinking glasses her new daughter-in-law designed.

She said the couple is far along the learning curve of parenthood.

“She has four kids and he has two, so we’re calling them the Brady Bunch,” Lisa Umphenour said.

The bride’s friend of 10 years and official wedding photographer, Candace Weaver, said Carina made a good choice marrying Kodie.

“I’ve seen a few of the guys she’s dated … much better,” she said of the groom. “They go so well together, and they both love it out here. I call them to come out to the beach. And they can’t because they’re always here; you can see they love each other.”

Drozdowski said he did his part in steering his friend toward a relationship with his new bride.

“Some of the girls he was with I told him to turn around and run,” he said. “And he turned around and ran, and now he found a good one.”

The bride’s sister and newly ordained minister Angie Pasco officiated the ceremony, asking Kodie and Carina to promise they would remain true to one another “through blown head gaskets, worn-out gears and through big mud holes.”

None of the vows worried the groom, who works with Carina for his parents Lisa Umphenour and Gene Riley at Specialty Auto Parts, the family’s salvage yard in St. Johns County.

One of Kodie Umphenour’s first tasks after Saturday’s Hog Waller reception — and a hopefully restful Sunday — is fixing his mother’s purple pickup truck, which got buried deep in the muck after the wedding when a part broke.

It was yanked out by a monster truck on scene.

“I’ve got to get back to work Monday,” he said. “This is our honeymoon.”

On the mud-caked, knocking and rattling truck carrying the family from the pit to the reception tent above, Austin Downing, 13, embraced the groom’s son, 6-year-old Kodie Umphenour Jr., who held his ears from the sound of revving engines.

Micaila, her arm around a younger cousin, diagnosed the truck’s problem as a broken axle. Outside the tent, the groom agreed, adding that depending on the angle of impact, the truck’s transmission and drive shaft might also need fixing.

“I go to work and work on cars, and I go home and do the same thing,” the groom said. “[Carina] gets mad at me sometimes, but this is what we enjoy. I’ve got seven four-wheelers and four mud trucks at home.”

Joe Pasco said that as a child, his daughter hated to get dirty.

“I asked her about it as we rode up,’ he said of the trip to the altar atop the monster truck. “I said ‘How did you go from that to getting married in a mud pit?’ She said, ‘Oh, Dad, I outgrew that.’”

Riley said his son chose a bride who is a perfect fit for the family.

“He couldn’t have picked a better girl,” Riley said. “And I’m proud they actually got married out there. A lot of people talk about doing it, but they did it.”


Another sad case of ‘grannycide.’ Man stabbed his 69-year-old granny to death.

Homicide deputies in Lake Wales arrested Christopher Chase Whaley, 23, on Sunday, and charged him with First Degree Murder in the stabbing death of his 69-year-old grandmother, Barbara Denmark, according to a news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the affidavit, Whaley told detectives he had gotten into an argument with his grandmother and his aunt the day before while he was in Daytona Beach. He decided then that when he returned home he would kill them both, the report states.

Whaley has been living with his granny in her mobile home for the past five years. His aunt, Cassandra Pippin, lives in Polk County, according to deputies.

When Whaley returned home, he sat in his bedroom and thought about murdering the two women. He then went into the kitchen, grabbed two knives and stabbed his granny repeatedly while she was taking a bath, according to the report.

Whaley left the room but later returned to find his grandmother out of the tub, unresponsive and lying on her bedroom floor. He decided at that point not to kill his aunt, but instead to call 911 and report the crime, according to the affidavit.

He was waiting inside the home when deputies arrived and turned himself in


Here’s a new twist on the law: Homeowners association rents home it doesn’t own.

Filed under: Abuse,Amazing,Bizzarre,Controversy,Dispute,Fight,Fraud,Scary,WTF? — floridaduh @ 1:09 pm

Joanne McCarn owns her home, but her homeowners association has taken it over and calls the sheriff’s office if she comes near the property.

What’s more, the Bridgewater Community Association evicted her tenant, changed the locks and moved in its own renter.

“This is not a foreclosed house,” McCarn said. “This is still my house. It’s unfair how much power the HOA has. It’s so surreal to me.”

The association’s president and attorney aren’t talking. Public records detailing the steps they have taken show McCarn’s house is just one of six the association is seeking to rent out. That doesn’t count homes the association has taken in foreclosure and is now renting.

It’s a tricky legal path for a group that has gone to extreme measures before to recoup money it lost in the housing downturn. Last fall, the Bridgewater Community Association made headlines by charging hundreds of dollars in fees to people seeking to purchase houses in foreclosure.

“Taking possession of the property and renting the unit out, that part is not something afforded by the law,” said Ben Solomon, a south Florida-based homeowners association lawyer.

Solomon works on behalf of associations nationwide to collect past-due fees from homeowners. He’s typically in favor of forcing delinquent homeowners to pay up.

But in this case, Solomon said, the Bridgewater association and its president, Mark Spector, went too far.

The association did persuade a judge to issue an eviction order for McCarn’s tenant and order a receiver appointed to manage the property.

In Solomon’s view, that doesn’t make it right — or legal. It’s more a measure of how complicated the housing bust has grown.

“Judges rely on what rights attorneys tell them their clients are afforded under the law,” Solomon said. “If there’s no attorney on the other side to argue that it’s wrong, the judge most often takes the word of the attorney and grants the motion. Plus, these judges hearing these cases usually are not experts in real estate law.”


Do you know where your 14-year-old is? Man charged with pimping girl, 14.

A Palatka man accused of prostituting a 14-year-old girl at a Gainesville hotel was arrested early Friday morning by Alachua County sheriff’s deputies after an anonymous tip about suspicious activity.

Bertram J. Harrison, 34, of 304 Magnolia Drive, was charged with buying or selling a minor for prostitution, according to his arrest report.

The arrest is the second recently in which a man was charged with prostituting a child in Gainesville.

Harrison was arrested at the Days Inn hotel at 7516 Newberry Road, where the girl was meeting clients.

Sheriff’s spokesman Art Forgey said the girl is not from Gainesville but is from the area.

“We got a caller who gave us information that this was possibly occurring there and gave a vehicle description,” Forgey said. “The deputy spotted the vehicle pulling in and stops it. He identified the guy and the girl as the ones he had received information about.”

The girl told investigators she met Harrison through a friend about a month ago, the report states. Harrison explained “escorting” to her, and they traveled to Gainesville to hang out at a hotel.

She was told she would get phone calls and was instructed to give prices for a “donation” — $200 for one hour and $150 for a half-hour, the report states. Harrison then began picking her up at her house and taking her to the hotel.

The girl told deputies her mother and other family members did not know where she was going. She told them she was staying with friends, deputies reported.

Deputies said the girl recalled meeting men seven different times for sex, five at the hotel and two at other locations in Gainesville to which Harrison drove her.

On a typical night, Harrison would pick her up about 9 p.m. at her house or on the street, and she would return home at 5 or 6 a.m., according to the report.

A detective found two different escort advertisements on the Internet with pictures and the girl’s cellphone number, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

On March 23, the Gainesville Police Department arrested Shay Ward Thomsen, of Gainesville, on charges of procuring a minor for prostitution after a 13-year-old girl was found in his car during a traffic stop at night.

Police said the girl told officers she recently had met Thomsen in church and that he gave her the idea to prostitute. She told police Thomsen would have people call him to arrange sex with her and then drive her to the locations.



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