Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Public safety

Woman found dead in canal behind New Port Richey home

NEW PORT RICHEY — Rose Vrehopoulou got a call from her longtime friend last week.

"What day do you want to go shopping?" asked Vickie Petrakis, 76.

"Tuesday," Vrehopoulou, 85, told her over the phone.

That was the last time they spoke.

So she was puzzled Monday morning when she saw Petrakis' car sitting in the driveway of Vrehopoulou's home at 5003 Forecastle Drive in Gulf Harbors, a west Pasco neighborhood where canals are as plentiful as streets. Petrakis was a day early. And nowhere to be found.

Vrehopoulou called Petrakis' husband, James.

"Your car is in my driveway," she told him. "Where is your wife?"

James Petrakis came to look for her. They checked across the street at Salome Prencipe's house. Prencipe hadn't seen her, either.

"Did you check the canal?" she asked.

At about 11:40 a.m., the small search party walked back to Vrehopoulou's house, to the canal behind it. From the dock, Prencipe said, they saw Petrakis at the bottom.

Authorities arrived and pulled her body from the water.

It remains unclear why Petrakis went to her friend's house that morning and how she made it into the water. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said there were no obvious signs of foul play but they were still investigating. James Petrakis declined to speak to reporters.

Vrehopoulou and Petrakis, who lived several miles away at 2624 Tottenham Drive, had been friends for years. Both Greek, they bonded over coffee and shopping trips. Vrehopoulou doesn't drive, so Petrakis would take her and her sisters on errands. Neighbors called the group the Golden Girls.

Carmela Gavinelli, 76, called Vrehopoulou to the edge of the sheriff's line tape that circled the yard so she could ask her what happened. They hugged. Vrehopoulou buried her face in her friend's shoulder.

Alex Orlando can be reached at [email protected] or at (727) 869-6247.

Comments
St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

St. Pete losing two assistant police chiefs; one will join Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Two assistant police chiefs are stepping down next month, leaving two of the three second-in-command jobs vacant at the St. Petersburg Police Department.Assistant Chief Jim Previtera announced this week that he will resign from the d...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Tampa forum focuses on reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system

TAMPA — Changing the way Florida treats juvenile offenders was the focus of Monday night’s forum on criminal justice reform."We send more children to adult prison than any other state," said Raymer Maguire IV, manager of the ACLU’s Florida Campaign f...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

TAMPA — A 24-year-old aide at Buchanan Middle School was arrested Monday and charged with using Instagram to ask for sex and nude photos from female students at the school, deputies said.Between Sept. 1 and the time of his arrest, Quinton J. Bradford...
Updated: 12 hours ago
New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

New tracking system could help put a dent in juvenile car theft epidemic

LAKE MARY — Hundreds more juveniles who steal cars each year could be kept off the streets under a new tool approved by a Department of Juvenile Justice committee Tuesday, a move that could put a dent in a dangerous local car theft epidemic.Secretary...
Published: 12/12/17
Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

Tampa police looking for Plant City girl, 15, considered to be in danger

TAMPA — Police were searching Tuesday for a missing 15-year-old Plant City girl who disappeared from a Tampa girls school.Zoe Warren was last seen about 8 a.m. Monday at the PACE Center for Girls, 1933 E. Hillsborough Ave., where she attends school, ...
Published: 12/12/17
Largo man arrested after passenger falls out of minivan and dies

Largo man arrested after passenger falls out of minivan and dies

PLANT CITY — A Largo man struck a pedestrian with a minivan last Friday, authorities said. Five minutes later, his female passenger was fatally struck by on-coming traffic after falling out of the vehicle.Plant City police arrested Todd Charles Riggs...
Published: 12/12/17

Police searching for robber who hit three North Tampa hotels

TAMPA — Police believe the same armed man committed early morning robberies at three North Tampa hotels within half a mile of one another, the latest just before 4 a.m. Tuesday.In the latest heist, the robber pointed a gun at a clerk in the West Wing...
Published: 12/12/17
Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

TAMPA — A malfunctioning air conditioning unit sparked the fire that damaged several homes at the Brookshire Townhomes on Monday, authorities said.Investigators concluded the fire started on the back patio of unit B103 when the power supply of a cond...
Published: 12/12/17

Plant City boy, 12, dies in Mulberry crash as car turns into path of semi

MULBERRY — A 12-year-old Plant City boy died Tuesday when the car he was riding in turned into the path of a semitrailer on State Road 60, authorities said. Miguel Resendiz was riding in an eastbound BMW 328xi when its driver, 29-year-old Maricela Re...
Published: 12/12/17
Space heater likely cause of early-morning home fire in Valrico

Space heater likely cause of early-morning home fire in Valrico

VALRICO — A space heater is believed to be the cause of a home fire in Valrico on Tuesday morning.It took firefighters about 20 minutes to control the fire in a mobile home on Pierce Christie Drive, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.The ca...
Published: 12/12/17