Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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
Woman, 87, killed in collision while driving wrong way near Brooksville, FHP says

Woman, 87, killed in collision while driving wrong way near Brooksville, FHP says

BROOKSVILLE— An 87-year-old motorist died Tuesday night after she collided with a pickup truck while driving on the wrong side of the road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash occurred about 8:50 p.m. as Patricia Green Marlette of Brook...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

A woman state authorities say was scammed out of $480,000 by two of her employees is an heiress to the Wrigley chewing gum fortune.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that the victim in the case is Helen Rich, 69, formerly Hel...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

In a scene repeated at public buildings across the country, the American flag in front of the library outside my office window was lowered to half-staff this week.This time for 10 dead in Texas.In February, the American flag was similarly half-staff ...
Published: 05/23/18
Largo man broke into jewelry store, cut himself on glass and bled all over everything, police say

Largo man broke into jewelry store, cut himself on glass and bled all over everything, police say

A Largo man was arrested Monday after police said he broke into the front door of a jewelry store and stole $10,000 in jewelry, but cut himself in the process and left blood all over the store.Police arrested Jaime Williams, 31, on a charge of burgla...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: St. Pete man who pried a safe out of the wall in custody

Police: St. Pete man who pried a safe out of the wall in custody

ST. PETERSBURG — It took more than an hour for a 25-year-old man to break into a restaurant, pry a safe out of the wall, drag it through the back and then wrestle it into his car, according to police.That was last week. Michael Murphy was arrested Tu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Search underway for North Carolina man missing from Tampa-based Carnival Paradise

Search underway for North Carolina man missing from Tampa-based Carnival Paradise

The U.S. Coast Guard was searching Tuesday for a 50-year-old North Carolina man who reportedly fell off a Tampa-based cruise ship.The Coast Guard Key West received a call from the cruise ship Carnival Paradise about 10 a.m. saying the man, Brian Lamo...
Published: 05/22/18
Deputies: 10th-grader brings loaded gun to Bradenton high school

Deputies: 10th-grader brings loaded gun to Bradenton high school

A Bradenton Bayshore High School student faces charges after he brought a gun on campus on Tuesday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.Around 11:45 a.m., school resource officers were alerted by school staff that the student, a 10th-gra...
Published: 05/22/18
Police swarm Panama City street in apparent shootout

Police swarm Panama City street in apparent shootout

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Multiple law enforcement agencies have surrounded a Panama City apartment building where an active shooter is barricaded inside.City spokeswoman Caitlyn Lawrence says it’s still an active situation. The suspect has been firing on ...
Published: 05/22/18
FedEx driver, 22, dies in crash on Interstate 4

FedEx driver, 22, dies in crash on Interstate 4

TAMPA — A 22-year-old FedEx driver died on Interstate 4 Tuesday when a tire blew out on his freight truck, which veered into the path of a Chevrolet Volt, state troopers said. Two teen girls in the Volt survived the 10:21 a.m. crash. A photo shows ci...
Published: 05/22/18
Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida, Tampa Bay region decreased in 2017, data show

Crime in Florida reached a 47-year low in 2017, according to state figures released Tuesday and touted as a "major announcement" by a Republican governor determined to win a U.S. Senate seat. The state’s total crime rate dropped by 6 percent from 201...
Published: 05/22/18