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Published Feb. 4, 2008


A fire that destroyed a vacant house in Seminole early Thursday morning may be arson, authorities said. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom house at 10411 121st Ave. burned about 5 a.m. Owned by Marion Whalen, 83, of St. Petersburg, the house had been empty since November, according to deputies. Seminole Fire Rescue was on scene at 4:48 a.m. and had the fire under control about 15 minutes later, according to spokeswoman Alison Shanabrook. Investigators estimate the single-story concrete block house was worth about $140,000. The Seminole fire marshal's office believes the fire was arson but wasn't able to determine an exact cause because the house was so badly burned, according to Shanabrook. Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's Detective Kristine Gilmore at (727) 582-6200. Callers who want to remain anonymous can call 1-800-873-TIPS.


22 dogs, python cats found in filth

Hernando County deputies serving a warrant at a man's home Thursday morning discovered 22 dogs, three cats and a Burmese python living in what they termed "deplorable conditions." The floors of the home at 24514 Audubon Drive in Brooksville were soaked in urine and covered in feces, authorities said. The snake had no water, and many of the dogs had fleas and skin disorders. Deputies arrested John Arthur Stansfield, 46, on charges of grand theft and dealing in stolen property. They have begun an animal cruelty investigation, but no charges have been filed in that case. "We only went there to serve the arrest warrants," Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donna Black said. "And then we found all the animals and the deplorable conditions."


Ex-quarterback given probation

Pasco High School's state-title-winning quarterback Issac Johnson avoided prison and was sentenced Thursday to two years of probation for a 2007 charge of possession of marijuana. Johnson is best known for what happened to him the night before Pasco beat Tampa's Jesuit High, 28-16, for the 1992 Class 3A championship. Johnson was arrested before the title game on a long-outstanding warrant for violating his probation on a robbery charge. He was freed in time to play in that game, but he has been in and out of legal trouble in the years since and lost a scholarship opportunity at Florida A&M University.