A nameless New York homicide victim whose unsolved killing puzzled investigators for more than three decades has been identified as a teenager who vanished from Brooksville in 1979.
Recent DNA testing confirmed that the girl known as Caledonia Jane Doe, who was found shot to death in a New York cornfield, is Tammy Jo Alexander, a former Hernando High School student.
The exact circumstances of her disappearance are unclear, but Alexander was last seen Nov. 3, 1979, the day after her 16th birthday, authorities said. A week later, a passing driver spotted a girl's body lying in a cornfield off State Road 20, near the town of Caledonia, south of Rochester, N.Y. ...
01/21/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — Security at this year's Gasparilla Parade of Pirates will include 40 officers patrolling neighborhoods on bicycles, two elevated platforms for officers to monitor crowds, and a number of closed-circuit TV cameras positioned along the parade route.
The preparations were detailed Wednesday in a news conference at Tampa Police Department headquarters, where police Chief Jane Castor, who retires later this year, took a nostalgic tone over this being her last Gasparilla....
TAMPA — A 14-year-old boy died after a speeding Jeep slammed into his family's minivan late Tuesday at a busy Tampa intersection, police said. The driver who police say hit them is facing a vehicular homicide charge.
The crash happened just before 11 p.m. at Hillsborough and Florida Avenues in the Seminole Heights area.
D'Angelo Howard was seen speeding north on Florida Avenue in a Jeep Commander, according to Tampa police. At Hillsborough Avenue, he ran through a red light. At the same time, David Martinez of Orlando was riding east on Hillsborough in a Honda Odyssey with his father, sister, grandparents and a cousin....
01/20/15 Public Safety
BROOKSVILLE — Declan Moss could say more than 15 words at an age when most toddlers only know six, his proud mother said. He liked strumming his toy guitar and playing in his toy kitchen set. He liked to be near water and going to the beach.
"A complete and total beach baby," Sheila Moss called her only son Tuesday, a day after the 18-month-old was mauled to death by two dogs at his grandparents' home. ...
TAMPA — Tampa police are soliciting tips from the public as detectives investigate a Monday night shooting that left a 24-year-old man dead.
LeTerrance Goggins was shot about 9 p.m. in the area of E 29th Avenue and N 29th Street, police said. When officers arrived, they found him lying on his back near a pavilion. Officers performed CPR before rescue personnel arrived and took Goggins to a hospital, where he died....
PLANT CITY — A Plant City insurance agent who was twice arrested last year on charges that she stole thousands of dollars from her clients is facing additional charges after more people claimed she took their money.
Investigators with the state Division of Insurance Fraud have alleged that Paula Albertson, 53, stole more than $800,000 in the last five years from at least seven victims. ...
TAMPA — A retired school principal was shot Wednesday night during a burglary at his home in the Wellswood area of Tampa, police said.
Officers arrived at 2703 W Wilder Ave. just after 10 p.m. in response to a report of a residential burglary. They found Marvin Leuschke, 68, shot once in the abdomen. The man who shot him ran away as officers neared the house, police said, prompting a brief foot chase....
01/14/15 Human Interest
TAMPA — Colors bloomed Wednesday morning inside the sanctuary at Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church: yellow and purple roses, pink balloons, orange and blue stained glass, white casket.
Michelle Kerr exchanged hugs and hushed greetings with mourners as she moved unsteadily to the base of an altar. There, in the open casket, nestled the cherubic face of her 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe....
01/12/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — Days after a father was accused of tossing his 5-year-old daughter to her death from a bridge in St. Petersburg, the head of the state's child welfare agency vowed to do a better job investigating reports of parents exhibiting mental health issues.
Mike Carroll, secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families, said at a Monday news conference that a lot has been reported about what happened in the death of Phoebe Jonchuck....
01/09/15 Public Safety
Five-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck was alive early Thursday when she hurtled 62 feet from her father's arms to the dark waters of Tampa Bay, where a search crew found her lifeless body hours later.
But for years before that horrible morning, child protective investigative records show, she was living in a home full of strife. Beginning in 2012, specialists from the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office received multiple reports of problems between Phoebe's parents, John Jonchuck Jr. and Michelle Kerr....
RUSKIN — Michelle Kerr sat in the shade of her front porch Thursday afternoon, trembling, with tears streaking her cheeks. On a table beside her, two frames held a collage of pictures of her daughter Phoebe, a rosy-cheeked girl with long dirty-blonde locks, who shared her mother's broad smile.
Kerr spoke of the girl and her own tumultuous relationship with Phoebe's father, John Jonchuck Jr. For Phoebe, she used words like bright, artistic, angel. For him, she used words like liar, manipulative, hurtful....
A man is facing a sexual battery charge after he snuck into a Brandon woman's home last week, held her at knifepoint for six hours and repeatedly assaulted her, according to Hillsborough sheriff's deputies.
Michael Alvarado, 50, had previously been in a romantic relationship with the woman, but the two were separated for more than a year, according to an arrest report. Early Friday morning, he came to the woman's home and crawled in through an attic entrance in the adjacent garage, the report stated. He then made his way to a bedroom where the woman was sleeping, the report stated....
TAMPA — An 18-year-old man wanted in connection with a late December drive-by shooting that left another man wounded was arrested Tuesday in Tampa.
Navares Dawontae Boyd faces a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in the shooting of Devonte Robinson, 21, who was attacked in the yard of his home at 3201 E Caracas St.
Boyd and another man, who was wanted on robbery charges, were walking Tuesday afternoon on Powhatan Avenue near N 22nd Street when they came upon a group of police officers, according to an arrest report. The pair led police on a brief chase, hopping several fences into nearby yards before officers caught up and arrested them near 22nd Street and Henry Avenue....
01/05/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — Hillsborough sheriff's deputies stopped a wrong-way driver early Monday on the Veterans Expressway.
Authorities received word about 3 a.m. of a blue Toyota headed north in the expressway's southbound lanes, officials said. Deputies scrambled to locate the car and stop traffic in the southbound lanes.
Corporal Jeremy Davis, who was in a sheriff's cruiser in the northbound lanes, spotted the car near the exit to Van Dyke Road, officials said. Davis moved onto the median and paralleled the car as he activated the cruiser's emergency lights....
01/03/15 Public Safety
More than a dozen Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies have participated for years in a controversial federal program that has beefed up the region's crime-fighting arsenal but in recent months has been the focus of a debate over how much firepower police need.
Temple Terrace police have picked up two grenade launchers through the program. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office got 200 military grade rifles. Four departments have tank-like trucks originally designed to repel roadside bombs on foreign battlefields....