Imagine you have a 4-year-old boy with bright blue eyes and a high-pitched voice, a boy who won't remove his Batman mask and loves Bagel Bites so much he cuddles with a bag of them at night. Now imagine that the boy has an illness that has stymied his growth and causes him scream-session pain, an illness that creates fistulas, or tiny holes, in his intestine, causing stool to drain into his abdomen and leak out unnatural holes in the surface of his skin....
06/22/16 Public Safety
On the evening of Aug. 5, an Army veteran with a history of mental illness was in the throes of an episode inside his solitary cell in the J wing of the Pasco County jail. Matthew Trevino, 29 at the time, had stripped off his clothes and was combative and mouthing off to a handful of detention deputies trying to conduct a routine search for contraband in his cell.
A video of the incident, filmed by a detention deputy at the jail, showed Pasco County sheriff's deputies trying to get Trevino to "cuff up" — to extend his hands through the food slot in the metal door so they could handcuff him and execute the search. Trevino instead grabbed his genitals and mumbled incoherently through a small window in the locked door....
06/14/16 Human Interest
TAMPA – He'll miss Father's Day and the Fourth of July. He'll miss those once-in-a-while mornings when his wife brings him Folgers in bed. He'll miss his daughter, and the newspaper, and 120 days of freedom.
For his brash act of telling the United States government that it has been corrupted by the influence of big money in elections, albeit by landing his gyrocopter on the green grass in front of the U.S. Capitol building, Doug Hughes turned himself in Tuesday to the Federal Detention Center in Miami, where he'll serve four months of hard time....
06/13/16 Public Safety
PORT ST. LUCIE — Hours before Omar Mateen attacked an Orlando nightclub on Sunday, leaving 49 dead and 53 wounded, he did something not out of the ordinary for him:
He stopped by his parents' house to visit with his father.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Seddique Mateen, 59, said nothing about his son seemed amiss during that Saturday visit.
"It was just a normal day of life for him," the father said Monday. "I didn't notice anything. Not a single thing wrong."...
FORT PIERCE — Inside the humble little mosque where Omar Mateen regularly came to pray, a handful of worshipers gathered Sunday evening and struggled, along with the rest of the world, to understand what had driven him to kill.
On Friday, Mateen had faced east with the other regulars at the Islamic Center and bowed to a God who prizes justice and peace above all else, said Imam Shafeeq Rahman, who leads prayers at the center....
WASHINGTON — For 13 years, Doug Hughes delivered the mail for the United States Postal Service without issue. Now he's being sent to live in a prison cell for trying to deliver the most important message of his life.
The former mailman from Ruskin, who landed a gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol building last year to protest how political campaigns are financed, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court to 120 days in prison. Hughes also received one year of probation, and he can't enter the Capitol building or the White House without special permission from the court....
Awaiting his sentence for landing on Capitol lawn, gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes still seeks campaign finance reform04/15/16 Human Interest
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The protesters gathered under a gray sky in front of Union Station. They wore ball caps and skullcaps and stocking caps and yarmulkes and carried signs that said OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED and Democracy, not DOLLACRACY and Stop Legalized Bribery. One hundred or so had marched here from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, 140 miles through wind and cold and rain. A few hundred more had just finished learning how to be arrested peacefully....
Doug Hughes, the former mailman from Ruskin who landed his one-man flying machine on the lawn of the United States Capitol last April to protest big money in elections, has ended his run to unseat South Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. ...
01/20/16 State Roundup
Some of the boys from the reform school use to take lunch down to the graveyard. They'd eat bologna sandwiches and wonder aloud about the boys buried beneath their feet. The dead boys' names were lost to time and neglect and, if you believe the men who made it out of Florida's oldest reform school alive, the callous hearts of guards who took home paychecks signed by the state.
It was always a mystery for Michael Littles, 58, from Tampa, who was sent to the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys outside Marianna the first time when he was 12, in 1969....
12/03/15 Human Interest
Everyone at Manatee Lanes had long since quit what they were doing and gathered behind the boy bowling on Lanes 9 and 10. This was a Saturday morning, Halloween.
The adult men's tournament going on had all but stopped as the bowlers peeled off to cluster behind the kid throwing strikes. Nobody dared to speak as they bore witness to his magic. They didn't want to jinx him. Heaven forbid someone say "Good luck" and ruin this moment, this unbelievable thing they were watching....
ST. PETERSBURG — Chef Tom Pritchard, who lied his way into the food and service industry and rose to become one of the most inventive and influential chefs in Florida, died Wednesday morning at his home in St. Petersburg. He was 74.
He died from complications after a surgery to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Mr. Pritchard was executive chef for Baystar Restaurant Group, owner of Salt Rock Grill in Indian Shores, Island Way Grill in Clearwater, Rumba Island Bar & Grill in Clearwater and Oldsmar, Marlin Darlin' in Belleair Bluffs and Salt Rock Tavern in Oldsmar. He trained or inspired many of the Tampa Bay area's most recognized chefs. Known for his connections in the industry and his penchant for storytelling, Mr. Pritchard is hailed by many as a legend....
WASHINGTON — The Ruskin mail carrier who landed his lightweight gyrocopter on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in April to protest how money corrupts U.S. politics pleaded guilty to a single felony on Friday.
Doug Hughes, 62, faces up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for operating a gyrocopter without a license. While prosecutors have asked for no more than 10 months in prison, Hughes' lawyers will argue that he should get probation....
11/10/15 Human Interest
GAINESVILLE — The old men met after sun up Saturday in the parking lot of an abandoned Mexican restaurant on the south side of town. They shook hands and hugged and climbed aboard a bus, careful not to fall.
Chuck Ruffner, 79, carried the plaque. "Don't drop it," he kept saying as he passed it around.
A police motorcade led the way to campus, past the co-eds in short shorts and the tailgaters playing corn hole and all the University of Florida homecoming hoopla....
We trudged through the dark, me half lit and engorged from neo-Filipino fare, my daughter tugging my hand and looking for familiar landmarks. We walked down dark alleys and through underground tunnels and over elevated walkways until she finally saw something familiar.
"I think we're back where we started," she said.
We'd been walking forever around Makati, the hip business district in Manila, trying to find our hotel. But somehow we had circled back to Your Local, a Brooklyn-style bare-bulb eatery with a secret entrance where we had earlier enjoyed dinner among the hipsters of Manila. Now we were both sweating and her frustration was growing....
TAMPA — Robert Stephens was murdered in 1937 and buried in an unmarked grave on the campus of Florida's oldest state-run reform school, the Florida School for Boys, in the Panhandle town of Marianna. On Tuesday, University of South Florida researchers announced that they have identified his remains using DNA and returned them to the boy's family.
"Sometimes persistence pays off," said Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist at USF who is leading a project to identify the human remains excavated from the brutal reformatory campus. Stephens is the sixth boy to be identified. The state believed the cemetery contained 31 burials until USF researchers found 51, most of them buried in the woods surrounding a marked burial ground....