Thursday, May 24, 2018
Public safety

Two deaths in Citrus County raise questions; sheriff responds with silence

Jeff Dawsy is a talker.

At luncheons and civic gatherings. At festivals and county fairs. He's good at it.

Talking helped him get elected as Citrus County's sheriff in 1996, and it has helped him keep the job. In the media frenzy that engulfed the rural community after Jessica Lunsford's death, talking to TV cameras made him famous.

But in recent months, with another election imminent, there are some things the sheriff won't talk about at all.

Two people have been killed, their cases unrelated in every way but one: Dawsy's office.

Jamie Lee Seeger, 27, of Crystal River, was shot to death in her car on July 25. She was a confidential informant for the Sheriff's Office, said her mother, Wendy Moore. Detectives, she said, failed to protect her daughter. She thinks Seeger was killed for being a snitch.

She wants Dawsy to talk.

Derrick Norman Vaccianna, 28, of the town of Hernando, was shot to death Sept. 26 by an off-duty Citrus County deputy. After Vaccianna's death, the Sheriff's Office said he was burglarizing a home at the time.

His mother, Dorothea, doesn't believe it. The house belonged to his former girlfriend, who is dating the deputy. Mrs. Vaccianna thinks her son was murdered.

She wants Dawsy to talk.

Many think his silence is, at least in part, politically motivated. For perhaps the first time since he took office, the popular sheriff may face a legitimate contender in Winn Webb, chairman of the County Commission.

But Dawsy's staff say he's not talking for a simple reason — he can't. The sheriff declined interview requests because both shootings remain under investigation. Because Vaccianna was killed by a deputy, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is handling that case. Sheriff's detectives are, however, investigating Seeger's murder.

"I would certainly understand the frustration of the family, but I also understand we're going to do this right," Bureau Commander Robert Blume said of Seeger's death. "We're not going to jeopardize the case."

When asked, Blume said Dawsy requested that he speak on his behalf.

Why couldn't Dawsy speak on his own behalf?

"There are a lot of things going on right now," Blume said. "I can't tell you what the sheriff's schedule is. He's a very busy guy."

• • •

Before the car accident in 2010, Jamie Seeger was a wife, a new mother and an aspiring nurse.

After the accident, she was an addict. She started with oxycodone, her mother said, and soon moved to crack cocaine.

Sometime around January, a Citrus deputy caught Seeger with drugs, Moore said, but investigators offered to let her go if she became an informer.

She agreed, Moore said, and made about $50 for each operation. Moore recalled once speaking to Sgt. John Novy, whom she called Seeger's "handler."

"When we get our arrests done and the cases are over," she said Novy told her, "we'll get Jamie the help she needs to get clean."

Bound by a law that prohibits naming informers, neither the Sheriff's Office nor the State Attorney's Office would say whether Seeger worked for the agency.

But Moore's attorney, Bill Grant, said he can prove it. He filed a request with the state asking for all criminal cases that listed Seeger as a witness. Officials gave him more than a dozen cases in which an unnamed female informer bought cocaine for the Sheriff's Office.

Grant thinks some of the sellers, after their arrests, may have figured out that Seeger set them up. Moore said her daughter had received death threats.

The day before she died, Seeger set up another buy. Moore didn't know if it was arranged by detectives or if her daughter wanted drugs for herself.

She left at 2 a.m. Moore, knowing her daughter was scared, went along. They had agreed to meet the dealer at a gas station, but he changed the location in the final moments. He demanded that Seeger not bring her mother.

Seeger dropped off Moore at a street corner nearby and promised to return in five minutes.

She never did.

• • •

In Citrus, they're calling it a love triangle.

Derrick Vaccianna and Amanda Vance had dated on and off for two years. His friends and family say he had a key to her place in Inverness and helped pay the bills, but the relationship was tumultuous. They cheated. Broke up. Got back together.

"He had a good heart," she said, "but he had psycho tendencies."

Vaccianna had his problems. At 19, he impregnated a young girl and was later convicted as a sex offender. He was arrested at least eight times on charges such as domestic battery, resisting an officer and violating probation. He spent two years in prison.

Despite all that, and her husband, Vance fell for him.

About a month before his death, friends say, the relationship fell apart. On Sunday, Sept. 23 — three days before his killing — Vaccianna found out Vance had a new boyfriend named Gregory Entrekin. He was 24 and had just been hired as a Citrus deputy.

In the days that followed, his friends said, Vaccianna and Entrekin argued over her.

"He said that Greg threatened him," according to his friend, Kristan Maidhof. He said the deputy told him to stay away or Entrekin "was going to handle it."

Entrekin, whose father is a retired Citrus deputy, filed a harassment and stalking complaint against Vaccianna on that Monday, according to the Sheriff's Office. Vance said he threatened to kill them both.

On the day he died, Vaccianna told two friends that Vance had invited him over because she wanted him back.

Vance denied that and said she continued speaking to him only to get him to stop harassing her.

That night, Vance said, she and Entrekin were sleeping when Vaccianna, dressed in black, burst into the bedroom wielding a bottle of raspberry vodka. Entrekin grabbed his gun from the nightstand.

"What the f--- are y'all doing?" she said he yelled. "I told you to stay the f--- away from her."

For more than 30 minutes, she said, Vaccianna screamed threats. When he slipped his hand into his pocket, Entrekin, a former U.S. Marine, ordered him to take it out. Vaccianna refused.

Then, for a reason she can't explain, Vaccianna called 911.

He told dispatchers an off-duty deputy was pointing a gun at him.

When Vaccianna hung up, she said, he put his hand back into his pocket, threatened to kill them and lunged at Entrekin.

The deputy pulled the trigger.

• • •

Moore and Mrs. Vaccianna don't know each other, but both want the same thing: answers.

By now, the women said, they should have some.

The killings haven't been forgotten in the community, but they seldom come up in regular conversation.

That, some say, is what the sheriff would prefer.

"You've got Dawsy, who is very good at managing his PR machine," said Chris Lloyd, 64, who has lived in Citrus since 1993. "He lets out what he wants to let out."

Doug Lobel, 67, a retired developer and influential local figure, said the sheriff's silence isn't surprising.

"Well," Lobel said, "it is election season."

Times photojournalist Will Vragovic contributed to this report.

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