10/09/14 Public Safety
A white pickup truck bobs and rocks down a trail on a bright summer morning at the 4G Ranch. Pasco sheriff's Cpl. John Hayhurst is in the passenger's seat. He's listening to ranch manager Chad Sasser list the security breaches he has had in the past year.
The week before, somebody dumped an old recliner near the 3,000-acre ranch's property line that runs along State Road 52. A hunting season ago, he caught some people firing a shotgun at some deer from their spot pulled off the road. A man wandered on to the property just a few days ago, looking to pick hallucinogenic mushrooms out of cow patties. And with the price of beef ramping up, Sasser says he's worried that people might fall back into the practice of stealing cattle....
10/02/14 Public Safety
DADE CITY — Capt. Steve Hartnett hardly looks comfortable in his new desk chair. He leans forward, his hands resting on a marked-up calendar while he talks about improvement.
First: himself. He's still working on this transition from patrol work in Tampa to a formal academic environment at Pasco-Hernando State College's law enforcement academy in the rural northeast Pasco hills. He asks for advice from instructor coordinator Kyle Hughes and executive director Charlie May who use the offices on either side of his....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Neighbors were expecting Ernest Kelly knocking on their doors soon.
This time of year was usually when the 12-year-old would be selling holiday cookie dough, a fundraiser for Athenian Academy in Port Richey where the sixth-grader attended.
But Saturday, they saw news trucks parked in front of the family's house on quiet Sage Avenue. Word spread that there had been a crash....
LUTZ — Back in jail after his Sept. 8 escape and subsequent manhunt, deputies say Jason Wayne Adams made a startling admission to them: This wasn't his first time on the lam.
The 27-year-old state prison inmate first made news when he walked off a work crew in Lutz and was hunted overnight by scores of law enforcement officers. He ended his brief emancipation by riding a bicycle in broad daylight — and in sight of a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy....
HOLIDAY — A man with a hood and bandana over his face burst into the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club's bar Sunday night, pointed his gun at the bartender and announced that this was a holdup.
"Let me at the register," Stephen Randall Koulias yelled, according to a Pasco sheriff's report. "Give me the (expletive) money! Hurry up!"
But then he took a look around.
When Koulias, 22, realized other people were in the bar, he dropped the act and pulled off his bandana and hood. He said he was just kidding....
HUDSON — Adam Matos, the only suspect in a grisly quadruple murder, floated a new theory during a jailhouse interview this week about who he thinks might be the culprit.
Matos is at the center of the investigation into the deaths of ex-girlfriend Megan Brown, her parents, Greg and Margaret, and her new boyfriend, Nicholas Leonard. Their bodies were found Sept. 4 stacked on a hill near the Brown home....
LAND O'LAKES — Adam Matos doesn't believe he can change any minds.
After the bodies of his ex-girlfriend, her parents and her new boyfriend were found baking in the sun atop a hill in northwest Pasco County, authorities called him the only suspect.
But in an exclusive interview Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Times from the Pasco County jail, a despondent Matos said he's no murderer. He's a nice guy, actually. Easy to get along with. And he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time....
09/09/14 Public Safety
TAMPA — In the end, Jason Adams made it easy for his pursuers.
The 27-year-old prison inmate who walked off a work crew Monday afternoon in Lutz and was hunted overnight by scores of law enforcement officers ended his brief emancipation by riding a bicycle in broad daylight — and in sight of a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy.
When the deputy confronted him about 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, Adams gave his real name, according to the Sheriff's Office....
HUDSON — Adam Matos was drunk when Megan Brown came home after a night out with her new boss and new boyfriend.
Matos, Brown's ex and the father of her son, demanded to know where she'd been. They argued, according to a criminal complaint filed in Pasco County court, and Matos grabbed a silver kitchen knife and backed Brown into a corner.
He held the knife up to her neck and said, "I'll (expletive) kill you," according to the complaint....
HOLIDAY — A handful of the thousands of unaccompanied minors traversing the Texas border routinely wind up in a nondescript beige building in this working-class corner of Pasco County.
There, 16 children eat hot meals and sleep in bunks before uniting with family members around the country. Their presence, hidden behind the shelter's high fences, has aroused many of the thorny aspects of the nation's larger immigration debate....
HUDSON — A week ago, Adam Matos showed up at the Get Hooked Grill, where he had worked as a dishwasher. Fired a few days earlier, he told a manager that he needed his last paycheck.
Then he vanished.
On Thursday, Pasco investigators went looking for Matos' 4-year-old son, Ismael "Tristan" Santisteban, who is autistic. What they found was carnage — four people dead on a hill — but no trace of the boy....
PORT RICHEY — A 14-year-old seventh-grader is facing two charges of attempted murder after admitting to setting her family's house on fire early Thursday, authorities said.
The girl told Pasco sheriff's investigators she soaked a towel and bedsheet with bleach and rum then set them on fire in the garage of the house on Hermitage Lane where her mother and 9-year-old brother were sleeping, according to an arrest report....
09/04/14 Public Safety
HOLIDAY — The owner of LNT's Kickstand Saloon was arrested last week after, authorities say, she embezzled thousands of dollars of sales taxes.
Nina Marie Novak, 54, collected sales tax from customers but did not send it to the state during various times between September 2012 through November 2013, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Revenue.
The release says she amassed $9,800 in stolen sales tax at the bar, 2419 Grand Boulevard....
09/04/14 Public Safety
PORT RICHEY — A 14-year-old girl immersed in violent Internet fiction and angry at her mother about household chores set fire to her family's house early Thursday, Pasco authorities said.
While her mother and 9-year-old brother slept, the girl soaked a towel and bedsheet with bleach and rum and then lit them on fire in the garage, according to an arrest report.
Later, the report says, she sent her mother a text saying, "Mom Im so sorry I dont know why I did it." She also asked if anyone was hurt....
09/03/14 Public Safety
NEW PORT RICHEY — A Lake County man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, saying he was arrested on driving under the influence charges for no reason.
The complaint filed Tuesday in federal court alleges that Cornelius Caldwell was driving through Dade City at 6:04 a.m. on April 7, 2013, and "exhibited no manifestations of alcohol or drug impairment" when he was pulled over by Deputy Gene Smith....