The Bizarre World of Florida

Man accused firebombing boss’ truck December 15, 2014

A Bradenton man has been indicted on federal charges, including arson, after allegedly admitting to setting fire to his boss’ truck.

sfl-flduh-firebombing-boss-truck-20141211-001Henry Howard, 47, of Bradenton, faces federal charges, including arson, after allegedly admitting to setting fire to his employer’s truck.

Henry Blain Howard, 47, has been formally charged with arson, possessing an unregistered destructive device, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, according to United States Attorney’s Office.

The Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office responded on June 20 to a firebombing in the parking lot of Days Inn, 3506 First St. W., Bradenton, after a 2006 Dodge truck was damaged.

Surveillance footage showed a male driver of a vehicle parked nearby approached the truck then returned to his vehicle and drove away. The truck then exploded in flames, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators spoke in October with Howard’s girlfriend, who said she was with Howard in the hotel parking lot and watched him set fire to the truck by placing a molotov cocktail — a combination of a plastic bottle, gasoline and cloth wick — in the wheel well.

When the pulled away, the woman said she heard a “boom” and saw fire and smoke, according to the complaint.

When investigators spoke with Howard at the Manatee County Jail, Howard said the firebombed truck belonged to his employer and that his vehicle was the one parked nearby.

Howard said he was at the hotel to purchase methamphetamine. He said he left $100 on top of the truck’s front tire, where drugs had been left for him.

Investigators asked if he set fire to the truck.

“I am not saying I did, and I am not saying I didn’t, because I was high on meth at the time,” Howard said, according to the complaint.

In a recorded jail phone call, Howard is heard saying: “That b—- helped me light the f—— fuse. We set fire to the truck,” the complaint states.

Howard’s brother told investigators on Oct. 15 that Howard wanted to speak with them.

Howard reportedly admitted to setting fire to his employer’s truck.

He also admitted to having his wife buy him a gun and buying a gun from a private party.

Howard has previously been convicted of armed robbery, principal to robbery with a firearm and robbery. Convicted felons are prohibited from owning firearms.

If Howard is convicted of the four charges for which he has been indicted, he faces up to 50 years in federal prison.

This arson case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Assistant United State Attorney Carlton Gammons is prosecuting the case.


Ooh that smell: Fire unmasks pot-growing operation December 8, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Controversy,Drugs,Fire,Weird,WTF? — floridaduh @ 2:44 pm

A pot grow house was found in Deltona on Wednesday after a fire, leading to charges against a resident who told deputies they discovered his stash, officials said today.


The fire on Kingway Drive, which left significant damage, was first reported at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.

Francisco “Franky” L. Quintana Jr., 40, told investigators the marijuana was for his personal use, agency spokesman Andrew Gant said.

“In all, investigators seized about 1,122 grams of cannabis plant buds and clippings, 27 plants in various stages of growth and various pieces of drug paraphernalia – like glass jars containing marijuana and a digital scale,” Gant said in a statement.

Two rooms were converted into growing areas, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Quintana was charged with manufacturing in cannabis, possession of cannabis over 20 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia and taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire.
The Sheriff’s Office on Thursday released pictures of what investigators found inside the home.

One shows a black-fabric tent found in the master bedroom closet. It had a grow light and 18 plants inside.

“They ranged in size from 2 inches to 12 inches,” Gant said said. “In the master bathroom, they found several bottles of chemicals used for growing marijuana.”

Since 2010, authorities in Central Florida have busted more than 700 marijuana grow houses, confiscating more than 30,000 cannabis plants.

The largest hauls came from Orange and Volusia, where more than 6,000 plants were confiscated in each county since 2010.


Protip: Never use gasoline to start bonfires November 17, 2014

Filed under: Bad Luck,Controversy,Dumb,Fire,Sad Story,Scary,Stupid,WTF? — floridaduh @ 2:35 pm

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: running to the sounds of an explosion, knowing their child is nearby.

635516733767630009-Still1115-00001That’s exactly what happened to one Polk County family as a can of gasoline exploded next to their 12-year-old daughter.

Today in Lakeland, dozens of volunteers soaked up and sprayed down cars to help raise money for Heather Tyer.

“She’s strong, she’s gonna be just fine,” Heather’s aunt Amanda Tyler told 10 News.

Less than a week ago her niece suffered burns over 70 percent of her body after the small gasoline tank she was standing next to exploded. She and her family were having a pit fire at her home. The gas was used to light the logs.

“Burn patients are so difficult from one minute to the next. you know, they can seem fine, and then things can go terribly wrong very quickly,” said Polk County Fire Lieutenant Charles Irving.

Polk County girl had over 71 percent of her body burned

He was first on the scene, even rushing back to pick up Heather’s mother Amy to get her on the emergency helicopter flight to Tampa General.

Janice Anderson said she saw that helicopter heading to help.

“Knowing the love that you have with your child, it’s more than any love,” she said.

And when Anderson saw how many volunteers came out today, “it just gives me goosebumps,” she said.

And rightly so. In less than a week, friends, family and complete strangers raised more than $30,000 dollars to get Heather back and get her better.

But a warning from Lt. Irving, “gasoline is obviously not one of the better fuels to use. It flashes,” he said. “There has to be water on the site at all times, and someone attending to the fire at all times. And if we do that, tragedies like this can be avoided.


Love thy neighbor … Woman tried to torch neighbor’s apartment November 4, 2014

Filed under: Bad Temper,Bizzarre,Controversy,Dangerous Nut,Dumb,Fight,Fire,Florida Nut,WTF? — floridaduh @ 1:11 pm

Jail after she allegedly attempted to burn down her neighbor’s apartment.

sfl-flduh-torch-apartment-20141103-001The trouble began early Saturday morning when Jasmine Nequeshia Walker got into an argument with her boyfriend at their home on the 1000 block of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard. The boyfriend left after the argument and Walker responded by throwing his clothing outside the apartment onto the ground.

A next-door neighbor, who is friendly with the boyfriend, picked up the clothes and placed them on a couch inside his apartment for safekeeping. The neighbor then stepped outside and saw Walker grab a can of lighter fluid and approach the neighbor’s apartment, the report said.

Despite warnings by the neighbor not to go inside his apartment, Walker allegedly entered and poured the lighter fluid on the clothing. She tried to set the clothing on fire but her lighter did not work, the report said. Walker left the apartment in search of another lighter, allowing the neighbor to close the front door and lock it.

While he was on the phone to police, Walker allegedly set a fire to the front window of her neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor used a fire extinguisher to douse the fire.

Asked by West Palm Beach police if she attempted to torch her boyfriend’s belongings, Walker responded: “I have damaged his property in the past by pouring bleach on it when we lived on 14th Street.” She refused to answer further questions.

Walker, 24, is facing charges of unarmed burglary of an occupied dwelling, first-degree arson with people present and criminal mischief resulting in property damage. She is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail.


Woman Sets Boyfriend on Fire October 23, 2014

Filed under: Abuse,Bad Temper,Bizzarre,Controversy,Dangerous Nut,Dispute,Dumb,Fire,Scary,WTF? — floridaduh @ 12:56 pm

An argument turned vicious in Florida when an incensed woman poured fingernail polish remover over her roommate then ignited it.

meatballs23n-2-webThe fight, according to a witness, erupted after Carlos Ortiz Jr., 42, threw out Melissa Dawn Sellers’ spaghetti and meatballs, according to Clearwater police.

“She was setting little objects on fire, then that turned into pouring nail polish remover all over him, and then all of a sudden, the lighter sparked and he lit on fire,” said Ines Causevic, a friend of the victim, Bay News 9 reported.

Sellers had been staying with Ortiz after losing her job at Wal-Mart.

Causevic said she doused her friend with water and pulled off his shirt, which was on fire.

He is hospitalized in critical condition with burns to his face and torso, the station said.

“When he got up, his face was like melting off,” Causevic said. “His lips were burning.”

Sellers, 33, was charged with aggravated battery.

She has a prior conviction from 2008 for battery.


Woman Set Boyfriend Ablaze, Claimed He Was Participating In “Fire Challenge” Stunt September 11, 2014

A Florida woman arrested for setting her boyfriend on fire after dousing him with rubbing alcohol claimed that the victim had been participating in the so-called fire challenge when “things went awry,” police report.

necoleandmarcosAccording to cops, Marcos Fuentes suffered burns to twenty percent of his body early Sunday morning in the Bradenton home he shares with Necole Stephens, 35.

As Fuentes was being loaded into an emergency medical helicopter, he told Manatee County Sheriff’s Officer deputies that Stephens became jealous when she saw him texting on his phone. Fuentes added that Stephens “threw ‘medical’ alcohol all over him before igniting his clothes on fire with a lighter.”

Stephens, who was not home when cops arrived, was later contacted by phone by deputies, who reported that Stephens claimed Fuentes “was participating in the ‘alcohol challenge’ and things went awry.” Stephens added that she left the residence because she was “scared.”

Stephens, investigators noted, declined repeated requests to return to the home and provide “proof that she did nothing wrong.” She was subsequently located at another Bradenton residence and arrested. Stephens is locked up in lieu of $15,000 on a felony aggravated assault charge.

Fuentes suffered second-degree burns “on his left side from his shoulder down past his waist,” reported deputies. Stephens and Fuentes are pictured above in a Facebook photo uploaded to her page in late-June.

The “fire challenge,” which has been popularized by Facebook and YouTube videos, involves a participant pouring rubbing alcohol on their skin and then setting the liquid on fire. The flames are then supposed to be quickly extinguished. However, many individuals have suffered serious burns as a result of the dangerous online trend.


He may be called ‘Slender’ but he’s poses a big fat risk for violence to gullible teens

The ​fictional character Slender Man is reportedly the inspiration of yet another violent crime.

1Authorities say a 14-year-old girl set her Port Richey, Florida, home on fire while her mother and young brother were sleeping inside in an effort to please Slender Man.

The incident reportedly took place after the girl had an argument with her mother. Her mother woke up in time to get her son out of the home and said she later received text messages from her daughter admitting to setting the fire.

The girl told authorities she was motivated by a Slender Man website and was also inspired by the two Wisconsin girls who allegedly attempted to stab their friend to death.

What is it about this fiction figure that’s prompting so much violence?

The Slender Man websites and social media pages depict the character as mythical and villain-like. Those pages include some pretty creepy language that encourages violence.

However, after these recent child crimes, a lot of those same sites are including disclaimers saying that it is all fictional and that the site is meant for adults.

Most experts agree that viewing violent websites is not good for childhood development.

And a study published in Pediatrics shows young people who are exposed to violent forms of media are much more likely to exhibit violent behavior themselves.

Here are some websites that WFTS warned parents contain violent Slender Man information:

“First, the Slender Man wiki gathers urban legends describing the character and gathers Internet users who want to talk about him. Also, an entire page on the site Creepypasta rounds up eerie photographs and myths about Slender Man. Finally, you may see Slender Man tied to the viral online book ‘Soul Eater.'”

The Florida girl has been charged with arson and two counts of attempted murder. Local authorities have not said whether she’ll be charged as an adult.



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