CLEARWATER — Roberta Rene Cable was unemployed and occasionally stayed at homeless shelters, but her life began to brighten in late 2013 when she moved in with a friend and got a job at an IHOP.
Two days before her first day, Cable, then 41, vanished. Her credit card and cellphone activity stopped. Family and friends in Illinois couldn't reach her. They called the Sheriff's Office to report her missing....
ST. PETERSBURG — A 59-year-old man accused of walking naked in downtown while holding a cup of cranberry juice and vodka was arrested last week, according to police reports.
Paul J. Nelligan, listed as a St. Petersburg transient, was found taking a stroll — without clothes — on a sidewalk near Sundial St. Pete on July 22 just after midnight. He admitted to an officer that he had alcohol inside a cup he was holding, the arrest report states....
07/25/15 Public Safety
Dan Simovich was hired at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in 1979, worked his way to the agency's No. 2 spot, retired in 2012, and began working for a private security company the following year.
But in February, he became chief deputy again after collecting deferred compensation of $540,968. He also receives a $9,132 monthly pension and a $155,000 annual salary. He made $140,000 before retirement....
07/23/15 Local Government
TARPON SPRINGS — Despite increasing property values, the city's property tax rate is expected to remain the same for the sixth consecutive year.
Taxpayers would continue to pay $5.45 for every $1,000 of assessed, taxable value. City Manager Mark LeCouris said he would like to see the values rise more before lowering the tax rate.
Taxable property values this year reached $1.4 billion. The city expects values to surge another 6 percent in 2016....
07/17/15 Public Safety
Sgt. Todd Bailey of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was presented the Deputy of the Year Award in Corrections Innovation by the National Sheriff's Association last week in Baltimore.
Bailey helped establish the agency's misdemeanor probation unit in 2013. He is the unit's supervisor, overseeing 2,500 probationers and a $1.4 million budget. Bailey, who has worked at the Sheriff's Office for 25 years, competed against nominees from 3,100 departments nationwide....
St. Petersburg police Sgt. John DeLuca remembers how, more than 10 years ago, thieves primarily stole cars by jamming screwdrivers or scissors into ignitions.
But pilfering vehicles has become relatively easy in recent years because many drivers leave their keys inside unlocked cars. Across Pinellas in the past two years, detectives at the Sheriff's Office and the St. Petersburg and Clearwater police departments have noted an uptick in vehicle thefts....
07/09/15 Local Government
TARPON SPRINGS — City commissioners approved an ordinance this week that would allow businesses that sell alcohol to open faster.
Under the previous alcohol ordinance, created in 1990, businesses that wanted to sell alcohol had their request reviewed by the technical review committee, planning and zoning board and city commissioners. The process could last up to three months.
Now, businesses requesting an alcohol license can seek approval through the planning director and city manager....
07/07/15 Public Safety
CLEARWATER — Starting Saturday, five police officers will be outfitted with body cameras as part of a 30-day pilot program at Pinellas County's third largest law enforcement agency.
The Clearwater Police Department is testing two kinds of Taser cameras: the Axon Body, which can be clipped onto the front of an officer's uniform, and the Axon Flex, which features a camera attached to a pair of glasses....
CLEARWATER — The man who fired a gun at officers while barricaded inside his bedroom for 12 hours this week had been placed into custody under the state's Baker Act during a similar police call nearly a year ago, records show.
Frederick Nelson, 43, brandished a stolen .38-caliber handgun Wednesday at 1524 Carroll St. Two officers fired, hitting Nelson more than once. He was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where he remained Thursday in serious but stable condition....
ST. PETERSBURG — Officers were dispatched to 4510 19th Ave. S last week when Jeremie Robinson yelled he wanted to go to jail, according to arrest reports.
Police told him to quiet down. Instead, Robinson, 34, lay down in the middle of the road and "continued to yell and curse for the officers to take him to jail," a report reads.
Robinson got his wish and was jailed on a charge of disorderly intoxication....
CLEARWATER — After a 12-hour standoff, SWAT team members shot and removed an armed man with a history of mental illness from his bedroom Wednesday after he barricaded himself inside, police said.
Frederick Nelson, 43, was hit by more than one gunshot, Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter said. He was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, and his condition was not available.
Police received reports about 6:30 a.m. that Nelson threatened relatives with a handgun and shot toward one of them at 1524 Carroll St....
TARPON SPRINGS — An 85-year-old man named as a suspect in an explosion that damaged his next-door neighbor's back yard Monday was keeping an arsenal of weapons — including functional grenades and mines — in his garage, police said.
"This is extremely concerning," said Tarpon Springs Police Chief Robert Kochen in a news conference Tuesday. "We don't even know what he was capable of. We're still conducting the investigation. We have a lot of agencies involved."...
TARPON SPRINGS — The person of interest in what authorities say was a targeted explosion in a home's back yard early Monday had called police twice to complain about his next-door neighbors at 1016 Stonefence Way.
William Vincent Metz, 85, contacted the Tarpon Springs Police Department on Dec. 24 to report that someone was entering his backyard and trying to peek through his windows. A responding officer didn't see anyone outside, police said. Metz also called in February to report that religious music was playing on a loop, but an officer didn't hear anything....
06/19/15 Public Safety
LARGO — Jay Freres traveled the world as a U.S. diplomat, serving in some dangerous corners of the globe before retiring to Florida with his wife.
On Friday morning, the 81-year-old U.S. Army veteran died steps from his home when a bolt of lightning struck him as he strolled alone on Egret Drive, Largo police said.
Friends and family were left to grapple with the shock of the sudden — and statistically rare — way that the friendly, deeply religious man died. Mr. Freres was the eighth person to be killed in the United States by a lightning strike this year, according to the National Weather Service. ...
LARGO — Detectives say they know who robbed and killed Marco Waters. The problem: they don't have enough evidence to prove it.
In a news conference Friday, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Waters' family asked for witnesses in the 14-year-old cold case to come forward.
"We know that there are people out there that have firsthand knowledge," Gualtieri said. "While people are reluctant, afraid sometimes to come forward, it's the right thing to do....