Claire Wiseman, Times Staff Writer

Claire Wiseman

Claire Wiseman covers breaking news for the Times. She grew up in Liberty, Ind., and graduated from Indiana University.  She has previously written for the Dallas Morning News.

Phone: (727) 893-8804


  1. Deputies: Principal at Tampa Day School molested student


    TAMPA — A Tampa Day School principal admitted in a recorded phone call to fondling a 14-year-old male student he had befriended, authorities said, and has been arrested on a felony charge.

    James Jerome Larkin, 63, was the middle school principal at the private school near Citrus Park, which specializes in teaching children with mild to moderate learning disabilities, dyslexia, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ...

    James Jerome Larkin, 63, is charged with lewd or lascivious molestation on a child.
  2. Ground search for missing Zephyrhills pilot suspended

    Public Safety

    The ground search for a missing Zephyrhills pilot was suspended Saturday evening after authorities spent a week hunting through Citrus and Hernando counties and miles of densely wooded forest.

    Hernando County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Denise Moloney said in a news release that "crews have exhausted our efforts and diligently searched our ground search area."

    Air searches for 74-year-old Theodore Weiss will continue, Moloney said, and new ground search requests will be investigated as needed....

    A board used to organize the search for missing Zephyrhills pilot Theodore Weiss, 74, inset.
  3. I-275 paving job in Tampa gets into a jam


    It was supposed to be an overnight resurfacing job.

    Work would begin late Saturday on two northbound lanes of Interstate 275, just east of the Howard Frankland Bridge, and be done early Sunday. Minimal traffic disruption.

    At least, that was the plan.

    The asphalt was late. Work went past schedule. When the road finally reopened, the new surface was torn up by traffic. The lanes were closed again....

    Potholes that formed when the shoulder under new asphalt was insufficient caused a traffic snarl that extended into Monday morning’s commute. For video of traffic crawling across the Howard Frankland Bridge, go to
  4. Third teen charged in attack on 83-year-old Pinellas Park man


    Police have arrested a third teenager in the Tuesday attack on an 83-year-old Pinellas Park man.

    Jazmine Burney, 15, of St. Petersburg turned herself in to police late Thursday and was arrested on a charge of armed robbery with a deadly weapon. Antonio Peterson, 16, of St. Petersburg faces the same charge.

    Police said they think Peterson's 13-year-old brother was also involved in the incident at 10 a.m. Tuesday that left Charles Clark badly beaten and with three stab wounds on his arm. ...

    Jazmine Burney, 15, of St. Petersburg is charged with armed robbery with a deadly weapon. 
  5. Teen brothers jailed, teen girl in custody in attack on 83-year-old


    Two teen brothers wanted in connection with an attack on an 83-year-old Pinellas Park man remained in juvenile detention on Thursday.

    The oldest, 16-year-old Antonio Peterson, appeared in court Thursday on an aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon charge.

    His younger brother, who is not being named because he is 13, faces a grand theft charge.

    After turning himself in to authorities late Wednesday, police said he admitted to helping steal Charles Clark's car but did not participate in the attack earlier Tuesday. ...

    Antonio Peterson, 16, makes his first court appearance on Thursday in juvenile court at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center. He is accused of attacking an 83-year-old man in Pinellas Park. He was arrested Wednesday.
  6. Police have suspect in custody in attack on 83-year-old Pinellas Park man


    PINELLAS PARK — Even after his wounds were bandaged, 83-year-old Charles Clark figured his attackers would come back for his car.

    "I said all the time, 'They're going to steal my car,' " Clark said.

    About 10 a.m. Tuesday, three teens jumped him as he returned to his Pinellas Park condo from a pharmacy. One grabbed him from behind and another slashed at his arm with a knife.

    "I started hollering and I started hitting them and they kept hitting me and hitting me and hitting me," Clark said. ...

    Charles Clark, 83, of Pinellas Park was attacked by three teenagers Tuesday morning.
  7. St. Petersburg boy's brutal slaying agonizes relatives


    Dorothy Whipple remembers the first time she met Tasha Trotter.

    Trotter was visiting her daughter, now 3. The child had been living with Whipple's family in Naples after the mother lost custody.

    Mother and child were riding together in the back of a car, Whipple recalled.

    The child would not stop screaming until the two of them were separated.

    The incident recalls the troubled history of a woman who on Friday, authorities say, walked into her mother's St. Petersburg home and fatally stabbed her 4-year-old son, Joseph Artis IV. ...

    Joseph Artis was stabbed inside the home of his grandmother.
  8. Severe weather forces Grand Prix fans' choice: stay or go

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — By all accounts, it began as a great morning.

    The beer was flowing, the funnel cakes were frying and fans were happily watching open-wheel racers jet around the track at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

    "The atmosphere is awesome, so long as we don't have a tornado," David Earnsberger, 44, of Miami, said around noon, glancing up at clouds overhead. ...

    The crew of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team works to remove their race flags and move their cars into a paddock area as the stands were evacuated due to severe storms bearing down on St. Petersburg on Saturday.
  9. After St. Petersburg boy's stabbing, relatives describe loving, troubled mom


    ST. PETERSBURG — Tasha Trotter would sometimes wear six wigs at a time and clothes she had cut up herself that barely covered her body. Her mother and brother were used to her bizarre dress.

    They were not prepared for what happened Friday evening, when police say Trotter stabbed her own 4-year-old son to death.

    "I never would have thought in a trillion years that this would happen," her brother, LeRonn Trotter, 44, said Saturday....

    Joseph Artis was stabbed inside the home of his grandmother.
  10. How far Grand Prix's buzz pushes noise meter

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG — Just how loud are those open wheel racers when they're zooming around at high speeds? Practice runs began Friday at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg's track, and we took a decibel meter downtown to find out.

    At the corner of First Avenue N and First Street N, noise hit about 83 decibels. That's as loud as average city traffic, according to the American Tinnitus Association. ...

    IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves gets ready for Friday's early practice session.
  11. Downtown St. Petersburg businesses ready for Firestone Grand Prix


    ST. PETERSBURG — It has been a decade since the Grand Prix first took over downtown, bringing the roar of IndyCar and thousands of fans to the Sunshine City.

    Though the event is just three days, construction of the 1.8-mile waterfront track begins more than a month ahead of time, creating a familiar headache — or boon — for downtown businesses.

    "It's part of March now," said Pete Boland, manager of Courigan's Irish Pub....

  12. Dreams go up in smoke at Palm Harbor storage facility


    PALM HARBOR — Dan Ferrans and his wife, Sue, were looking forward to what they called "the dream" — retiring within the next three years and venturing on road trips in their 38-foot Damon Challenger RV.

    The Palm Harbor couple kept their RV at Florida West Covered Storage, a place equipped with security cameras, key pad entrances and tall black gates where others also sheltered the incarnations of their dreams: big boats, babied classic cars, luxurious recreational vehicles....

    Dan and Martha Copeland’s 2008 Holiday Rambler is shown in Hiawassee, Ga., in 2010. The RV was one of many destroyed in a three-alarm fire that broke out just after midnight and destroyed Florida West Covered Storage in Palm Harbor.
  13. One dead after speeding car slams into St. Petersburg house


    ST. PETERSBURG — As Kelli Brown slept early Tuesday, a car crashed into her porch. She woke to the sound of an explosion and looked outside to see a wall of fire.

    "It sounded like a bomb," said Brown, 23. "Like a big bomb."

    Police said Tony A. Harshbarger, 49, of Pinellas Park was traveling south and may have reached speeds of 100 mph before his car drifted to the right and hit a bus stop bench and a tree about 4:20 a.m....

    Parts of a mangled car lie in a yard Tuesday morning after a one-car crash that killed one person and damaged at least one home at 49th Street N and 34th Avenue.
  14. Judge grants defendant's request to cover facial tattoos during murder trial


    After his arrest on a murder charge nearly two years ago, Cody Dials decided he needed a few jailhouse tattoos.

    The 20-year-old got teardrops at the corners of his eyes and the words "out of sight, out of mind" above his eyebrows.

    The ink apparently doesn't seem like such a good idea now.

    He and his attorney were in court Friday to ask a judge to allow Dials to cover his tattoos during his first-degree murder trial next month. Dials is one of three men charged in the May 2012 shooting death of David Rhea, a 39-year-old commercial fisherman....

    Cody Dials will be tried for first-degree murder in David Rhea’s shooting death.
  15. Woodlawn PTA leader accused of theft has criminal record


    ST. PETERSBURG — A woman charged with stealing almost $400 from a Woodlawn Elementary PTA fundraiser has a criminal history spanning more than two decades.

    Twanya L. McGill, 44, of St. Petersburg was arrested March 6 on a charge of grand theft after police said she took $385 intended to pay for merchandise for a school fundraiser. McGill was the PTA's vice president at the time. ...