Jon Silman, Times Staff Writer

Jon Silman

Jon Silman covers crime and courts in West Pasco County.

He was born in California, grew up overseas, and graduated from the University of Florida. Before he joined the Times in 2013, he was the cops reporter for the Gainesville Sun.

Phone: (727) 869-6229

E-mail: jsilman@tampabay.com

  1. Pasco woman, 38, pleads guilty to sex with minor

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A 38-year-old married Land O'Lakes mother was sentenced to prison Tuesday for having sex with a boy in her SUV and texting him explicit photos of herself.

    Alexis Colson pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor and transmission of material harmful to minors.

    The encounter happened in January 2013. According to an arrest report, Colson texted the victim — 16 at the time — with instructions on where to meet. They left his school in her SUV and parked in a field. Sexual activity ensued. ...

    Alexis Colson of Land O’Lakes is led away after being sentenced Tuesday. She also pleaded guilty to electronic transfer of materials harmful to minors for texting the victim explicit photos of herself.
  2. Search for missing Zephyrhills pilot enters fifth day

    Public Safety

    Times Staff Writer

    The search for missing Zephyrhills pilot Theodore Weiss entered its fifth day on Friday, and searchers planned to cross the county line from Citrus into Hernando County.

    Hernando County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Denise Moloney said authorities still hold out hope they'll find the missing pilot alive, even though he hasn't been seen since last Saturday.

    "We're hoping for a positive outcome," she said. "But we don't know what we're going to find."...

  3. Suspect confident of acquittal in fatal movie theater shooting

    Criminal

    Three days after killing a man in a dark movie theater, Curtis Reeves called home from jail, confident of his innocence.

    "When all the facts come out, we all should be in good shape," Reeves told his family in a Jan. 16 phone call, among new evidence released by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office and Reeves' defense team.

    Reeves, a 71-year-old retired Tampa police officer, faces charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery in the Jan. 13 shooting. Authorities say he shot and killed 43-year-old Chad Oulson and injured his wife, Nicole, in a dispute over texting during previews at the Grove Cobb 16 theater in Wesley Chapel....

    Photo evidence shows a sign at the Grove Cobb 16 theater in Wesley Chapel where Chad Oulson was shot and killed.
  4. Authorities still searching for missing Zephyrhills pilot

    Public Safety

    Authorities continued the search Wednesday for Theodore Weiss, the 74-year-old pilot who disappeared last weekend somewhere over the Withlacoochee State Forest.

    Weiss' Sonex experimental kit plane left the Dunnellon/Marion County Airport on Saturday afternoon, bound for Zephyrhills Municipal Airport. The plane disappeared from radar in a dead zone over the forest.

    Dave Fortuna, a 63-year-old pastor in Louisiana, said he built the plane by hand in the early 2000s....

    Theodore Weiss, 74, had been bound for Zephyrhills Municipal Airport last weekend.
  5. Authorities search for missing Zephyrhills pilot

    Public Safety

    Authorities were searching Tuesday for a Zephyrhills pilot last seen Saturday leaving Dunnellon/Marion County Airport.

    Theodore Weiss, 74, was bound for Zephyrhills but never reached his destination, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

    A representative from the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport confirmed that Weiss never arrived but declined to comment further.

    Weiss was reported missing Monday....

    Theodore Weiss, 74, was last seen Saturday leaving the Marion County airport.
  6. Pasco man gets life sentence for murder in 7-Eleven robbery

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Adam Moyer was 18 days shy of his 18th birthday when he robbed a convenience store and stepped over the body of a man killed in the process.

    Because he was a juvenile, and even though a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, he will get a shot at parole in 25 years. On Friday, Circuit Judge Mary Handsel sentenced Moyer, now 20, to life in prison for the killing of Danny Foster, 61, a 7-Eleven clerk who was a month from retirement. ...

    Adam Moyer points to a Pasco sheriff’s detective who worked his 7-Eleven robbery case. “I’m going to get you,” he said. He had just been sentenced for murder in the 2012 robbery, but because he was a juvenile at the time, he will get a shot at parole in 25 years.
  7. Port Richey man to attempt record-setting bass playing performance for charity

    Human Interest

    If you go to the website for the Guinness Book of World Records and search for "bass playing," you'll get zero results. Rusty Ellison of Port Richey wants to change that.

    On Friday, he'll attempt to play bass for 24 hours straight, and set a world record in the process — all for charity, of course. He'll try his feat at Venom II Bar and Grill at 7430 U.S. 19 from 7 p.m. on Friday, and into the next day. Besides Ellison's attempt, there will be a raffle and biker games and food at the event....

    Rusty Ellison, 45, will play for charity.
  8. Couple charged with neglect after child falls into pool

    Crime

    Pasco deputies arrested two people after a child fell into a pool while they were watching her.

    Stefani Hollon, 25, and Matthew Vojvodic, 26, both of 6832 Kingstree Court, were charged with child neglect on Friday morning. According to an arrest report, the two were in charge of a 15-month-old. The child was left unattended, the report said, and she exited the living room and fell into the pool from the rear porch. Hollon was able to pull the child out of the water and resuscitate her. Vojvodic told deputies he was under the influence of pills and "one shot" of whiskey....

  9. Jury convicts man in Pasco dog killing trial

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A jury deliberated just 20 minutes before finding Brian Perry, 48, guilty of animal cruelty for beating his rescue dog to death with his fists.

    Perry, who lives on Grand Boulevard, rescued a 4-year-old Rottweiler named Gipper in May of 2013. He'd only had Gipper about 15 days, according to testimony in court, before the 70-plus-pound dog ran away from him and into a nearby river. He got the dog, but then Gipper ran toward a neighbor's house....

  10. Pasco man on trial in dog killing says he was protecting other dogs

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY ­— A Pasco County man accused of beating his Rottweiler to death with his fists told a jury Thursday that he hit the dog only twice, and never meant to kill him.

    As for the body of the animal, he said, he has no idea where it is.

    Brian Perry, 48, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty on May 27. According to court documents, Perry had recently rescued 4-year-old Gipper, who weighed about 75 pounds. He was with the dog at his home on Manatee Point Drive in New Port Richey when Gipper ran away from him and into a nearby river. He got the dog, but next Gipper ran toward a neighbor's house....

    Brian Perry, right, talks with defense attorney Andrew Stine, who said Perry “acted out of necessity” during an emergency.
  11. Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against FHP from Christmas Day crash in Pasco

    Courts

    On Christmas day in 2007, David Belniak's pickup slammed into a stopped SUV, packed full of people and presents — even the holiday ham.

    Three of those people died, and in 2011, Belniak, now 40, pleaded guilty to three counts of DUI manslaughter and other charges in exchange for 12 years in prison.

    Then the lawsuits began: First, Belniak's lawyer and sister Debra Tuomey sued, alleging the crash was the other driver's fault. A jury disagreed and awarded $4.5 million each to three sisters whose parents were killed. Next, Tuomey sued in response to the judgment awarding the victim's family money. Finally, she sued the Florida Highway Patrol and three individual troopers for what she called "civil rights violations." She argued that FHP's investigation of the case was a "government-sanctioned assassination against one individual."...

  12. Claims bill for injured Pasco woman filed in Tallahassee

    Legislature

    For the third time in as many legislative sessions, a claims bill has been filed for a New Port Richey woman severely injured by a Pasco County deputy.

    In early 2005, Pasco Deputy Kenneth Petrillo's patrol car collided with Jennifer Wohlgemuth's Honda Accord as Petrillo was chasing a suspected drunken driver. His lights and sirens were not on. Wohlgemuth, then 21, suffered a brain injury and was left unable to care for herself....

  13. Holiday man pleads to lesser charge for killing father

    Criminal

    NEW PORT RICHEY — On New Year's Eve 2012, Baron Von Duke Vercruysse ran down Mosaic Drive in Holiday screaming about his father.

    My dad's in there, he yelled, according to an incident report. Someone help him.

    Pasco firefighters put out the blaze at the house and found the body of Rene Dominique Vercruysse, 52, with what looked like "lacerations or possibly a gunshot wound to both sides of his face." Bloody footprints led from the bathroom to the bedroom where they found the body....

    Baron Von Duke Vercruysse said in a 2013 Times interview that he had lived with years of abuse. “I didn’t mean to kill him,” he said. “I just wanted him to stop beating me.”
  14. Pasco middle school teacher charged with enticing teens on Facebook

    Crime

    A teacher at Centennial Middle School in Dade City used Facebook to chat and plan sexual encounters with two underage girls in Belize, authorities say.

    David Wendel Thompson, 48, of Seffner was arrested and charged Friday with online enticement of minors, a federal offense.

    According to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Thompson had sexually explicit conversations with a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old in February. A cyber crimes unit with Homeland Security received the information about the chats around March 12, the complaint said. ...

  15. Teen sentenced to 12 years for Pasco beating he committed with his mom

    Criminal

    For his role in the brutal beating and robbery of a Moon Lake man and his neighbor, Bryan Curtis, 17, will spend the next 12 years of his life in prison.

    On Sept. 14, 2012, Joseph Bruno, a retired man with multiple sclerosis, met Bobbie Jo Curtis on Singlesnet.com. She told Bruno she and her son needed a place to stay, so he agreed to let them spend a few days at his three-bedroom house on Midvale Avenue. When he asked them to leave, they came up with a plan to rob him. ...

    Bryan Curtis, 17, said his mother, who has yet to be sentenced, put him up to the robbery.