Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Retiring Sheriff's Office sergeant worked some of the area's most infamous cases

TAMPA — Few have seen Hills­borough County crime like Sgt. Stephen Cribb.

He was among the first on the scene after Billy Ferry walked into a Winn-Dixie supermarket in 1983, pitched a bucket with 4 gallons of gasoline into a crowd of shoppers and employees, and set fire to them. Five people burned to death; 13 were maimed. Cribb helped bring Ferry to justice.

When fear gripped the area as serial killers Bobby Joe Long and Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. murdered victims, Cribb was among the detectives who hunted both men. He helped bring them to justice, too.

The first teenage deputy in the Sheriff's Office, Cribb has responded to many calls. But Monday, the accomplished officer won't be reporting for duty. He's retiring after 35 years.

"They told me not to say anything unless it was nice," Cribb told a crowd of about 40 who had gathered to honor him Friday at the District 2 headquarters, "so I'm done."

It was a brief speech fitting of a witty man who isn't much for words. Instead of a grand address, Cribb's opted to mingle with friends. They aren't so muted.

Maj. Bill Davis, District 2's commander, has served with Cribb for 30 years.

He called Cribb an astute detective. Once at the site of a homicide, officers were tracking shoe marks. Cribb noticed a man in the crowd wearing tennis shoes that matched the prints and he turned out to be the killer.

Cribb supervised detectives, a position where many said he acts more like a mentor than a boss.

"He doesn't teach by telling you how to do it," said Cpl. Frank Cruze, who works under Cribb. "He let you learn it, and he was right there to guide you."

His team even shared meals. A favorite: his wife Patty's lasagna.

"I'm Italian, so we cook and eat all the time," said Patty, who attended Friday's party. She's known Cribb since he was a young deputy chasing her outside the grocery store where she worked as a teenager.

For 20 years they dated. Nine years ago they wed — she's not sure what took him so long — and six years ago, they welcomed baby Hannah into the family.

Opportunities to rise in the ranks have cropped up before. But accepting a lieutenant's rank would have meant moving back to the midnight shift, and time away from Patty and Hannah.

While Cribb plans to pursue other employment, he will now have more time with his family. Patty will worry less about his safety. And Hannah will be pretty happy, too. After all, daddy's coming home.

Staff writer Steven Overly can be reached at or (813) 226-3435.

Retiring Sheriff's Office sergeant worked some of the area's most infamous cases 06/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2009 10:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]
  2. Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House


    WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering the president's private discussions about firing his FBI director and his response to news that the then-national security adviser was under …

    In a photograph provided by the Russian foreign ministry, President Donald Trump meets with Sergei Lavrov, left, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 10, 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in this meeting, where Trump said dismissing FBI Director James Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him, the New York Times reported on Sept. 20. [Russian Foreign Ministry via  New York Times]
  3. 'We will find our island destroyed': Hurricane Maria demolishes Puerto Rico


    SAN JUAN — Sleepless Puerto Ricans awoke Wednesday knowing to expect a thrashing from the most ferocious storm to strike the island in at least 85 years. They met nightfall confronting the ruin Hurricane Maria left behind: engorged rivers, blown-out windows, sheared roofs, toppled trees and an obliterated electric …

    Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the storm  hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday. [Carlos Giusti | Associated Press]
  4. Obamacare repeal bill offers flexibility and uncertainty


    The latest Republican proposal to undo the Affordable Care Act would grant states much greater flexibility and all but guarantee much greater uncertainty for tens of millions of people.

  5. Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire 'private briefings' on 2016 campaign, report says


    Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, the Washington Post reports.

    Paul Manafort, then Donald Trump's campaign chairman, talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. [Associated Press]