11/28/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — A 19-year-old college student went missing and was later found dead on Sept. 7, floating in the Hillsborough River. A two-month investigation into Bruce Rivera's death concluded with a medical examiner's ruling that his death was an accidental drowning.
A police report, released this month after Tampa police closed the case, revealed additional details about the circumstances of Rivera's disappearance. Among them: two witnesses said Rivera smoked synthetic marijuana before he vanished....
BRANDON — He walked to her in the darkness, a gun in his hand. With their two daughters at her side, he shot her twice. Steps away, behind the wheel of a car, a woman saw it happen.
Her account, detailed in an arrest report, was what authorities needed to charge Darryl Eugene Williams with murder in the Halloween night slaying of Tiffany James.
Williams, 49, the father of James' twin 7-year-old girls, was named a person of interest the day after the shooting. But he refused to speak to investigators, making it difficult for them to link him to the crime....
11/23/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — A 70-year-old man shot his stepdaughter to death Monday morning in a room at Florida Hospital Tampa before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
Steven Reynolds shot Alonna Tedesco, 41, just after 7 a.m. on the hospital's third floor, Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said. Deputies arrived to find Reynolds dead and his stepdaughter clinging to life. She was rushed to the hospital's emergency room, but couldn't be saved....
A California jury convicted a man on Monday in the 2013 murder of his wife, a former Brandon woman.
Edly Atherley, 31, was found guilty of second-degree murder in San Bernardino, Calif., for the killing of Ashley Atherley. His conviction came almost two years to the day after the 28-year-old woman was found beaten and stabbed to death in the apartment the couple shared.
He lived as a fugitive for more than a month before turning himself in to the FBI in Tampa....
RIVERVIEW — As Virgil and Shirley Best prayed together, according to detectives, their daughter-in-law shot each in the head.
When questioned later, daughter-in-law Marisol Best and her husband Robert Best both told detectives they had been together at home the night of Nov. 11. That's when the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the slayings took place.
But cellphone records showed the couple exchanged 18 calls between 9:30 and 10 p.m. that night. The couple's statements were "inconsistent" with the cellphone data, detectives said....
Before sunrise Thursday, Robert and Marisol Best pulled up behind his parents' Riverview home. They were there to pray. And Robert Best needed it.
He was supposed to be in a Polk County courtroom in a few hours. A jury would hear criminal allegations that he engaged in sex acts with a teenage girl. Whatever they decided could send him to prison — again.
The back door was open. When Robert Best walked in, authorities said he found his father, Virgil Best, 70, and his mother, Shirley Best, 69, both dead. Both had been shot....
11/09/15 Public Safety
A longtime helicopter pilot for WFLA-Ch. 8 and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office was one of two men who died Monday when their plane crashed in southwest Georgia.
Georgia authorities have not released their names, but WFLA-Ch. 8 announced Monday evening that one victim was one of the TV station's helicopter pilots, Lester Hathcox.
The twin-engine plane, a Cessna 441, took off from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport about 10:15 a.m. It lost contact with air traffic controllers before 1 p.m. about 13 miles west of Cairo-Grady County Airport in southwest Georgia, according to the Federal Aviation Administration....
TAMPA — Law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay area hope to get better at probing computer-based crimes thanks to the U.S. Secret Service.
Federal officials on Friday announced the creation of an "Electronic Crimes Task Force" in the bay area. It includes members from the region's sheriff's offices, the Tampa and St. Petersburg police departments and dozens of smaller agencies.
The aim is to improve communication between agencies about economic crimes, especially crimes that involve the use of technology. It is as much about spotting trends as it is about giving smaller agencies access to bigger investigative tools....
TAMPA — A man was arrested Sunday night on charges that he sexually assaulted a woman who was sleeping behind a charity thrift store in north Tampa.
About 8 p.m. Sunday, according to Tampa police, Anthony Lamar Bennett walked up to the woman on the west side of the Hope Children's Home Thrift Store at 702 E Fowler Ave. He threatened her with a knife and forced her to perform a sex act on him, according to an arrest report....
10/30/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — Jane Castor knows about guns. She also knows about mental illness. And she has ideas about how society can deal with both.
On Friday, Tampa's former police chief was one of five featured speakers at a "Colloquium on Mental Health, Guns and Crime," which drew a crowd of about 200 near the University of South Florida. The focus was on the nexus of the three issues, and what law enforcement and public health officials can do to prevent violent crime....
Gov. Rick Scott signed a death warrant Friday for serial killer Oscar Ray Bolin, one of the most notorious criminals in Tampa Bay history.
The governor ordered that Bolin be put to death for the 1986 slaying of 26-year-old Teri Lynn Matthews.
He is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Jan. 7 at Florida State Prison, near Starke. But his death warrant will trigger another appeal as well....
TAMPA — Federal officials announced Thursday that they are increasing the cash rewards for information in four of Tampa's unsolved murders in what has been a remarkably deadly year.
They stressed that they can provide protection for anyone who comes forward, an effort to allay community fears about cooperating with police.
Those are fears that Edward Harris III knows well.
The father of 14-year-old E.J. Harris, the youngest of this year's 29 murder victims, said his family received threats after his son was shot and killed in a neighborhood park in May....
Tampa police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are holding a news conference Thursday to announce "enhanced rewards" for information in some of this year's unsolved homicides. The move comes in a year in which police have grappled with a surge in violent crime that has included 29 homicides in the city. That's more than in any other year since 2003....
TAMPA — The gunshots that rattled the University of South Florida and led to the arrests of two football players earlier this month were part of a pair of shootings that took place a few minutes apart on campus.
Search warrants filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court this week in the cases against Benjamin Knox, 21, and Lamar Robbins, 22, gave a detailed narrative of what police say happened in the early hours of Oct. 11....
THONOTOSASSA — More than two months after a Hillsborough sheriff's deputy was wounded by gunfire, investigators still haven't arrested the gunman.
The investigation of the shooting of sheriff's Deputy Scott Ranney sparked an intensive manhunt in the neighborhood where it happened. Two people were arrested during the ensuing dragnet for the shooter — but on charges apparently unrelated to the shooting....