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    As Spring Break trickles to a halt in Walton County, Sheriff Mike Adkinson is calling his agency’s 2014 no tolerance for underage drinking policy “very successful.”

    Deputies have carted 506 spring breakers off the beaches and to the county jail. They’ve additionally handed out 247 notices to appear in court.

    “I know there’s been some wailing and crying and gnashing of teeth,” Adkinson said.

    Nearly all of the offenses have been alcohol-related, with the majority for underage drinking. There have also been a handful of drug arrests and five house parties broken up.

    Though the end is near, the spring break season can’t be called over yet, said Walton County Tourist Development Council Director Jim Bagby.

    Schools from Cincinnati, Chattanooga and Mobile, as well as Louisiana State University, Southwest Louisiana and Tulane will be converging on Northwest Florida in the week before Easter.

    Thus far though, Bagby said, the Sheriff’s Office efforts have been effective in the areas where trouble spots existed in year’s past.

    “I think the sheriff applied the proper pressure to the proper places,” Bagby said. “I think he did a good job there.”

    Adkinson said both the cops and the kids have learned some things in the first year of a policy that may be tweaked, but will certainly be re-imposed next year.

    It took “like four days in a row of setting single day booking records at the jail” to make it clear at the outset of the spring break season that the county was serious about its lack of tolerance, Adkinson said.

    “We’d arrest an initial wave of people the first day or two they were here and then we’d see it dying down by the end of the week,” the sheriff said.

    Deputies came to appreciate the “educational component” of arresting underage drinkers and real-ized the fact it took three or four other young people to bail one out of the county jail “slows down the party train.”

    “That’s exactly what this was designed to do,” he said.

    He said the policy of arresting underage drinkers rather than ticketing them greatly cut down on the number of repeat offenders.

    Adkinson said the Sheriff’s Office was “amazed to learn” how quickly word got out through social me-dia. Many spring breakers had already heard Walton County’s reputation by the time they arrived.

    “People knew where the Okaloosa-Walton county line was, and when we were over there by the Whale’s Tail 20 or 30 deep with deputies there’d be people going to the other side,” he said.

    He said the Sheriff’s Office will “reemphasize a media blitz to colleges” next year and look at staffing needs to insure all shifts are equipped to take underage partiers to jail at any time of the day or night.

    Contact Daily News Staff Writer Tom McLaughlin at 850-315-4435 or Follow him on Twitter @TomMnwfdn.

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    WINTER PARK — The man authorities say fled after causing a deadly crash at a Florida day care center has surrendered.

    The Orange County Sheriff's Office says 26-year-old Robert Alex Corchado surrendered Thursday at the county jail.

    Police agencies across the state had been searching for Corchado since the Wednesday crash that killed a 4-year-old girl and injured 14 other people, most of them children.

    The Florida Highway Patrol says Corchado slammed into a convertible, which then smashed into the KinderCare building north of Orlando.

    Records show he's been arrested eight times since 2000, including in December when he was charged with leaving the scene of another crash.

    Check back for an update


    Below are earlier versions:

    WINTER PARK — Authorities are casting a wide net in the search for the man they say drove the vehicle at the center of a day care car crash, then fled the scene.

    The Florida Highway Patrol said Thursday that police agencies statewide have been alerted to be on the lookout for 26-year-old Robert Alex Corchado. Sgt. Kim Montes says officials don't know for sure whether he is still in that state.

    One child died and 14 people were injured. On Thursday, Montes identified the girl who died as 4-year-old Lily Quintus.

    Police say Corchado was driving a Dodge Dorango that struck a convertible, which smashed into the KinderCare building.

    He has been arrested eight times since 2000. In December, he was arrested on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash and drug count.



    WINTER PARK, Fla. (AP) — The man with a long history of arrests whom authorities are seeking in a deadly car crash into a Florida day care center was the driver of the vehicle that fled the scene, the Florida Highway Patrol said early Thursday.

    The agency had previously called 26-year-old Robert Alex Corchado a “person of interest” in the Wednesday afternoon crash. On Thursday, spokeswoman Wanda Diaz said in a statement that Corchado — who has been arrested eight times since 2000 — was driving a Dodge Durango that struck a Toyota Solara convertible, which jumped a curb and smashed into the KinderCare building in the Orlando area. One girl died. Fourteen other people, mostly children, were injured. The convertible's driver wasn't injured.

    Local television footage showed small children and infants in cribs being taken outside to the day care's playground. Several of those injured were carried out on stretchers.

    Late Wednesday afternoon, parents could be seen waiting to pick up their children, and then clutching them in their arms as authorities escorted them to their vehicles.

    Authorities said Wednesday that they were searching for Corchado, who they believed was heading to Orlando International Airport in an attempt to flee.

    A man answered the phone for a number listed to Corchado and hung up when he was asked, “May I speak to Robert Corchado?”

    Corchado's most recent arrest, in December, was on a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving damage, a felony charge of selling narcotics, and felony marijuana possession. He was released on more than $10,000 bond and pleaded not guilty to the charges. His defense attorney in that case, Jack Kaleita, didn't return a phone call or email after business hours.

    Department of Corrections records show Corchado has served prison time for trafficking cocaine and extortion.

    Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs called the crash an “absolute tragedy and disaster.”

    Diaz said a girl died at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, but she didn't have any more details. One child at the hospital remained in critical condition Thursday, and three were in serious condition, spokeswoman Katie Dagenais said in an email.

    In all, 13 people were hospitalized, including the girl who died from her injuries, and two others were treated at the scene, authorities said. Eleven of the injured were children, said John Mulhall, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Rescue.

    Several of the injured at the KinderCare building in Winter Park were reported to be in “very, very serious condition,” Diaz said.

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    PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — The discovery of seven dead babies in cardboard boxes in a Utah garage has police desperately seeking answers from the mother and other family members about how such a tragedy unfolded over a decade with no one noticing.

    Megan Huntsman, 39, is accused of killing her babies after giving birth to the children between 1996 and 2006, investigators said. She was booked Sunday into the Utah County Jail on six counts of murder. It wasn't immediately clear if Huntsman has an attorney or why there were six counts and not seven.

    The gruesome case has raised a series of questions about how the killings occurred despite Huntsman carrying out what neighbors said seemed like a normal existence. Police declined to comment on a motive and on what Huntsman said during an interview with investigators.
    Her estranged husband made the discovery while cleaning out the garage after recently getting out of prison. Authorities do not believe he was aware of the killings and he isn't a person of interest at this time.

    Police Capt. Michael Roberts said officers responded to a call from him Saturday about a dead infant, and then they found the six other bodies.
    Family and neighbors identified the estranged husband as Darren West, who has been in prison on drug-related charges.
    Roberts said police believe West and Huntsman were together when the babies were born.

    "We don't believe he had any knowledge of the situation," Roberts told The Associated Press

    Asked how West could not have known about the situation, Roberts replied, "That's the million-dollar question. Amazing."

    The babies' bodies were sent to the Utah medical examiner's office for tests, including one to determine the cause of death. DNA samples taken from the suspect and her husband will determine definitively whether the two are the parents, as investigators believe.

    Huntsman also has three daughters — one teenager and two young adults — who lived at the house.

    Neighbors in the middle-class neighborhood of mostly older homes 35 miles south of Salt Lake City say they were shocked by the accusations and perplexed that the woman's older children still living in the home didn't know their mother was pregnant or notice anything suspicious.

    Police say West made the grisly discovery at the house owned by his parents in a city of about 35,000 people at the foot of snow-capped mountains. It's a nondescript, newer home with a brick facade and a star ornament hanging by the door.

    Several police cars blocked the entrance to the house Sunday evening as officers milled about with the belongings from the garage strewn across the front lawn.

    Late Sunday, West's family issued a statement saying they were in a "state of shock and confusion."

    "We are mourning this tragic loss of life and we are trying to stay strong and help each other through this awful event," the statement said before asking for privacy.

    West pleaded guilty in federal court in 2005 to two counts of possessing chemicals intended to be used in manufacturing methamphetamine, court records show. In August 2006, he was sentenced to 9 years in prison, but appealed the term three times. He maintained his innocence and said he never had any intention to manufacture meth. It's unclear when he was released.

    West's sister Sarah Wright wrote to federal district court in 2006, saying West is a good father to his three daughters. She said he worked at an excavation company for 11 years and is an avid outdoorsman who likes to fish and camp.

    "Darren is such an awesome dad," she wrote.

    Neighbors told the AP they were shocked and horrified by the accusations of what went on inside the home. None of them even knew Huntsman was pregnant in recent years.

    The family members seemed like nice people and good neighbors, said Aaron and Kathie Hawker, who lives next door.

    Huntsman moved out several years ago, leaving her three daughters to live alone, the Hawkers said. They weren't sure where Huntsman has since been living.

    Years ago, Huntsman baby-sat the Hawker grandchildren and they were friendly with each other.

    "It makes us so sad, we want to cry," Kathie Hawker said. "We enjoyed having them as a neighbor. This has just blown us away."

    Aaron Hawker said he talked with West on Saturday morning. He told Hawker he was cleaning out the mess in the garage.
    "Two hours later, suddenly we had all these policemen here," Aaron Hawker said.

    Fred Newman, a neighbor whose cousin is the husband's mother, said he's perplexed how the three oldest daughters living there didn't know about what police say was going on. He said the girls didn't always park their cars in the garage, but did sometimes in the cold winter months.
    He said he has used his snow-blower to clean off the driveway of the home and the young women would thank him.

    The girls were normal youngsters, coming and going often, neighbor Vickie Nelson said.

    "It's shocking and kind of morbid and strange," Nelson said as he looked across the street at the garage from her from lawn.

    Roberts said the case has been "emotionally draining" and upsetting to investigators. He was at the home when the bodies were discovered.

    "My personal reaction? Just shocked. Couldn't believe it. The other officers felt the same," the 19-year police veteran said.
    "They got more and more shocked each box they opened," Roberts said.

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    PANAMA CITY — As he entered a plea of no contest to killing his wife and father-in-law, Bryan Castleman took a deep breath, rubbed his face with both hands and turned to face his wife’s children and sisters.

    “I wish I could say I knew what happened. I wish I could say I understand,” Castleman started. “I have no idea what happened in my house. I don’t remember anything. I wish I could. I’m very sorry.”

    The family members of Mary Ann Castleman said nothing during the hearing. Prosecutor Larry Basford said he’d talked with them and the Springfield Police Department about the deal, and Judge James Fensom sentenced Bryan Castleman to two consecutive life terms for killing his wife and Leroy Minnich, her ailing father, in November 2012 in the Springfield mobile home where all three lived.

    Mary Ann Castleman and Minnich were discovered in the home about three days after they were stabbed and beaten to death with a knife and a hammer. Bryan Castleman took their money and spent it on drugs and video games after the crime.

    Fensom told Castleman he would go to jail for the rest of his life if his plea was accepted, and he asked Castleman if he’d seen the evidence prosecutors would present at trial and what he thought of it. Castleman said life in prison was better than the alternative prosecutors had in mind.

    “I’ve seen what they say they’ve got … it pretty much seems to leave me two options, and I choose the better of the two,” Castleman said.

    Castleman was scheduled to go to trial later this month on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of robbery. He pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree murder, thereby avoiding the death penalty, which prosecutors would’ve sought against him if he’d been convicted.


    The robbery charges were dropped as part of the deal, and Castleman agreed to pay up to $1,000 in restitution for Minnich’s funeral expenses.

     An earlier version of this story is posted below:


    SPRINGFIELD — Bryan Keith Castleman pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree murder Monday and was sentenced to life in prison, according to a news release from the State Attorney's Office.

    Castleman, 51, of 700 Transmitter Road, Lot 7, killed his wife Mary Ann Castleman, 48, and her father, Leroy Minnich, 64, in their home on Nov. 23, 2012. 

    Prosecutors said the defendant acted with a depraved mind when he beat both victims repeatedly with a hammer and stabbed them multiple times. He then took money from his wife and father and used it to buy crack and video games, according to police reports. Castleman was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

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    PANAMA CITY - A 75-year-old man was beaten and robbed while in his home, according to an incident report from the Panama City Police Department. The man, Lawrence Bellamy, was found in his E. 8th Street home by a family member Sunday, officials wrote. 

    When the family member arrived she found the front door unlocked and Bellamy in the home with 'major injuries' to his face. Bellamy told police that a man had entered his home, beaten him and taken an undisclosed amount of money from the residence.

    Bellamy was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries. Police are investigating the incident. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 872-3112.  

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH - Deputies responded to a home in Bay Point when a woman called to report Benjamin Quattrocchi had stolen her 38 revolver Sunday morning at about 9 a.m.

    The victim stated Quattrocchi had paid someone to give him a ride to her home. While visiting he asked to see her revolver. The victim brought out the firearm and then left Quattrocchi alone for a moment. When she returned to the room, he was gone and the gun was missing. The victim did not immediately report the theft, but was calling now because a mutual friend of hers and Quattrocchi’s had called her to inform her that Benjamin Quattrocchi had just threatened someone with the gun, according to a news release.

    Subsequent investigation revealed Quattrocchi had earlier arranged for a man to drive him to Bay Point and then to a storage unit business on Thomas Drive in exchange for gas money. Once Quattrocchi left the Bay Point home with the stolen firearm, the driver of the vehicle told deputies he noticed Quattrocchi acting very strange, almost frantic, so he asked him what was wrong, according to a news release.

    It was then that Quattrocchi allegedly put the gun to the driver’s head and demanded he be given a ride or he would kill the driver, officials wrote. The driver told investigators he drove until he saw a gas station and convenience store on Magnolia Beach Drive. He pulled into the parking lot and jumped out of the car and ran and hid inside the bathroom in the convenience store. When he finally came out to his car, Quattrocchi was gone. The driver explained he feared for his life and had been held against his will due to the threat with the firearm. Investigators located Benjamin Quattrocchi at about 10 a.m. and placed him under arrest.

    Quattrocchi, 71, of Panama City Beach, was charged with theft of a firearm, aggravated assault, and false imprisonment.

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    YOUNGSTOWN -- Deputies last week arrested a man on suspicion of giving alcohol to a juvenile and then having sex with her, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

    James Timothy Cooper, 37, told deputies he was so intoxicated he couldn’t remember if he had sex with the victim, who told investigators Cooper twice had sex with her.

    Cooper was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual battery of a child under 18, a first-degree felony. His bond is set at $500,000, and his arraignment is scheduled for May 13.

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    TAMPA — A researcher from the University of South Florida said Tuesday a team of forensic experts is using DNA, skeletal analysis and digital X-rays to identify the remains from a former reform school on the Panhandle.

    Erin Kimmerle and Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee met with U.S. Sen Bill Nelson to share what they have found at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.
    So far, Kimmerle said, DNA has been fully analyzed on 12 sets of remains.

    “It’s a very slow process, but it’s thorough,” she said.

    University of South Florida researchers began excavating the graveyard at the now-closed school in September. The dig finished in December.
    Official records indicated 31 burials at the Marianna site, but researchers found the remains of 55 people.

    Some former students from the 1950s and 1960s have accused employees and guards at the school of physical and sexual abuse, but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded after an investigation that it couldn’t substantiate or dispute the claims.

    Kimmerle said that it will take months to extract and analyze the DNA from the 55 exhumed bodies. Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said his agency is trying to help by looking for relatives of some of the boys that were known to have been buried at the school.

    Kimmerle showed Nelson a computerized image of a young boy — a facial composite of one of the sets of remains excavated from the site. The photo is of an African American boy, about 10 years old.

    “It’s an effort to put a face with the remains,” she said.

    All the bodies found were interred in coffins either made at the school or bought from manufacturers, Kimmerle said. Some were found under roads or overgrown trees, well away from the white, metal crosses marking the 31 officially recorded graves.

    Some residents have questioned whether the graves are related to the alleged abuse at the school and have said the graves shouldn’t be exhumed without permission from surviving relatives.

    Kimmerle that it’s unclear if there are other graves elsewhere on the school site. The property is 1,400 acres and her team has excavated about five acres — although she has received tips that graves are located elsewhere on the property.

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — A woman who stabbed her boyfriend three times in the torso at a used furniture store Tuesday might have acted in self defense, investigators said.

    Mary May, 43, stabbed 29-year-old Tyler Buckee three times in the torso around 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Second Time Around Furniture store on Front Beach Road. Deputies were called about 20 minutes later.

    Buckee was alert and conscious before paramedics rushed to Bay Medical Center in critical condition. May was also injured during what Bay County Sheriff’s Office Investivator Albert Willis described as a domestic dispute.

    “We’re still gathering all the evidence and working the crime scene, but at this point it appears to be a self defense stabbing in response to domestic violence situation,” Willis said.

    Willis said the investigation was still in its early stages, but it appeared Buckee had been beating on May and she grabbed a piece of glass and stuck Buckee with it before leaving the store. Deputies found her walking along the road shortly after finding Buckee.

    Buckee and May had been staying in a makeshift residence behind the storefront while the owner was away. Investigators believed that’s where the fight started.

    It was too early to know what, if any, charges would be filed in the incident, or whom they might be filed against, Willis said. 

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  • 04/15/14--15:40: Armed robber gets 20 years
  • PANAMA CITY — A Callaway man who tried to rip off a lottery winner was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday.

    Kelvin Jaquez Mack, 27, was convicted in February of breaking into Linda Wilson’s home in August 2012 with Rossi Armstead and demanding Wilson’s lottery winnings at gunpoint. Wilson recently had won $90,000 playing Fantasy 5, but rather than keeping the cash under her bed, she deposited the money in a bank.

    That fact apparently came as a surprise to Armstead, Mack and Mytrice Walker, who orchestrated the attempted robbery of her cousin and drove the two men to Wilson’s home. They woke up Wilson and her daughter at gunpoint, and when they realized the money was in the bank, they drove Wilson’s daughter to several ATMs.

    By the end of the crime, they netted a cool $150 between the three.

    Police confronted Walker, who cooperated by identifying Mack and Armstead and admitting her role. She pleaded to principal to home invasion robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison.

    Armstead, who was convicted in July of principal to home invasion robbery with a firearm, principal to kidnapping and principal to grand theft, was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison followed by 10 years probation.

    Mack will serve five years on probation when his prison term is over.

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  • 04/16/14--10:25: Man arrested after stabbing
  • PANAMA CITY BEACH -- The Bay County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Tyler Morgan Buckbee, 29, on charges of domestic violence by strangulation and felony domestic violence.

    After receiving medical care, he was taken to the Bay County Jail and booked.

    The arrest Tuesday night after after Buckbee was stabbed by Mary May at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

    Deputies responded to the apartment at 8810 Front Beach Road and found both May and Buckbee injured. An  ambulance took to a local hospital.

    Once investigators were able to talk with May she told them that Buckbee became angry that afternoon and accused her of making sex movies. She admitted she “smarted off” to Buckbee.

    That is when, she said, he drug her across the floor by her hair, choked her on the floor and punched her in the face with a closed fist. Buckbee also kicked her or stepped on her head. May told investigators she believed she was unconscious for a period of time before coming to and trying to make her way to the front door. Before she could unlock the door to leave, Buckbee grabbed her by the throat and began choking her. May stated she feared she would lose consciousness and grabbed a beer bottle and hit the defendant, breaking the bottle. That is when she stabbed him three times.

    May had bruises and injuries consistent with her statement, including three bite marks she stated came from Buckbee. May stated she was beaten often by Buckbee and is tired of living scared.

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    LYNN HAVEN - A man is in critical condition following a motorcycle crash, according to the Lynn Haven Police Department.

    The incident happened at about 8 p.m. on State 390 near Alabama Avenue when a truck driven by Zachary Patton pulled out in front of a motorcycle being driven by Allen Paul, officers wrote in a news release.

    Paul was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. the incident is under investigation. 

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    PANAMA CITY -- Panama City Police are looking for the man who attempted to rob a downtown bank around noon Thursday.
    Authorities with K-9 officers were combing the area surrounding the Innovations Federal Credit Union branch at 625 Jenks Ave. after the man fled the bank on foot with no cash. The man had entered the bank and presented an employee with a note demanding money, but he left after speaking with the employee. 
    A witness saw the man changing clothes behind the bank and attempted to chase him. The would-be robber got away, but the witness was able to snap a photograph of the suspect.
    Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call Detective Jeff Rogers at 850-872-3100 or CrimeStoppers at 850-785-TIPS (8477).

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    PANAMA CITY — Police are investigating an attemped bank robbery at the Innovations Federal Credit Unit on Jenks Avenue.

    The incident happened in the last hour when a man entered the bank at 625 Jenks Ave. and attempted to rob the bank. The effort was thwarted, police said, and he fled on foot. His only description is an older white male.

    Police are searching the area.


    Check back for updates

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    PANAMA CITY — A motorcyclist was injured Thursday just after noon when he collided with a car on 15th Street near the intersection with Mulberry Avenue.
    Police on the scene did not identify the motorcyclist and didn’t know the severity of his injuries, said Sgt. Melanie Law with the Panama City Police Department. The three people in the other car in the crash, a gray Buick sedan, were not injured, Law said.
    For safety and investigative reasons, police diverted eastbound traffic in the area and closed on lane of westbound traffic.

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    SOUTHPORT — A Southport man is recovering in a local hospital after being shot five times at close range in his home on Hobbs Road shortly before midnight Thursday.  

    The Bay County Sheriff’s Office arrested 43-year-old Michael Oloughlin, who deputies say tried to force his way into the victim’s home and fired multiple shots through the door, striking the victim three times in the left arm and twice in the left leg with a 40 caliber handgun.

    The suspect fled the home but was tracked down and Oloughlin apprehended on Interstate 10 with assistance from the Washington and Jackson County Sheriffs Offices, who damaged Oloughlin’s tires through the deployment of spike strips.

     The victim remains in a local hospital with injuries not considered life threatening.

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    SOUTHPORT — With less than a year on the job, communications specialist Sarah Kirkland already has had a man with a hole in his pocket call 911 for help tracking the money he’d lost.

    “There’s crazy calls, like, ‘You’re calling 911 for this,’ ” Kirkland said.

    Kirkland is one of the 20 communications specialists for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office who took a combined total of nearly 350,000 emergency and administrative calls in 2013 at the county Emergency Operations Center.

    Each answers an average of more than 1,000 calls a month, and the fact that April 13-19 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week doesn’t mean Kirkland and the other dispatchers won’t field about 325 calls each this week.

    And that’s not counting the calls for ambulances and fire. Even without them, “we still have a large amount on our plate,” communications supervisor Terre Hall said. 


    The callers will be scared, suicidal, confused and angry enough to cuss out the stranger on the other end of the phone — even while they demand help. Regardless of who they are, what they need or how badly they treat the dispatcher, they’re going to get help, Hall said.

    “We’re here no matter what,” Hall said.

    And even as she answers questions about her job, Hall is taking 911 calls; an angry 10-year-old has just run off into the woods. Hall, who’s been answering 911 calls “most of my adult life,” doubts the child is in any danger, but every call receives the same treatment.

    “You don’t ever take anything lightly,” she said. “You don’t ever assume.”


    Behind the scenes

    Communications specialists are the people behind the scenes. In most emergencies, they are the first point of contact for someone in trouble. They deal with pressure and stress on the phone to reduce the stress on the deputy they’re sending to the scene.

    They deal with drunks and druggies, with the mentally ill. They deal with seniors who live alone and might not talk to anyone else all day.

    And they deal with the callers who have a slightly different definition of the word emergency. For instance, Hall took a call during Spring Break from a man from out of town who sounded a little drunk when he told her he needed some place to go.

    The man was in Panama City Beach, so Hall transferred the call to the Beach Police. By then, the caller knew where he needed to go: a strip club.

    “You get the funny calls,” Hall said. “They don’t get treated any differently.”

    Unless you count the sarcastic jokes and laughter when the call is over.

    About a year ago, one communications specialist even had to deal with a marriage proposal from Lt. Rad Nelson called in over the radio. Mrs. Beth Nelson said yes.

    “My husband proposed to me over the radio,” she said.


    ‘They’re family’

    While they are perhaps not as tight as the Nelsons’, Hall said tight relationships develop between dispatchers and the deputies on the roads. The deputies’ safety so often depends on the dispatchers’ ability to get critical information and relay it quickly.

    “We are their lifeline and our job is to make sure they go home in one piece,” Hall said. “We may not see them, but they’re family.”

    It’s when those deputies get in trouble that Hall’s job can take a heavy emotional toll, not that she changes her approach.

    The calm, steady voice someone hears when their neighbors won’t turn the music down is the same voice the deputy hears when he’s trapped in his car after a crash. She’s twice had the displeasure of sending out an officer’s final call.

    “You do your job,” she said, “and then you fall apart when it’s over.” 

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    PANAMA CITY — After spending more than a year in either the Bay County Jail or a state mental hospital, Joseph Moody will be in court Monday to help his attorneys select the men and women who will decide where he spends the rest of his life.

    If those men and women side with prosecutors and find Moody acted with premeditation when he gunned down 24-year-old Megan Pettis, his ex-girlfriend, in broad daylight before a dozen or more witnesses, Moody will spend the rest of his life in prison.

    Moody, a former Panama City firefighter with a lengthy history of mental health treatment, was tackled and beaten by bystanders moments after he unloaded a .45-caliber pistol in a 23rd Street shopping center parking lot.

    Police found a suicide note he’d written the night before when they searched his house, and he told investigators that when Pettis rebuffed his attempt to talk to her by driving away from him he thought, “Well, (expletive) it,” and shot her.

    Moody’s trial for first-degree murder will hinge on the question of premeditation, but the only way for him to present evidence he hadn’t intended to kill Pettis will be for him to waive his right not to self-incriminate and testify.

    Earlier this month, Judge Michael Overstreet prohibited Moody’s attorneys from presenting evidence of Moody’s “diminished mental capacity.”

    Jean Marie Downing and Rusty Shepard had hoped Overstreet would allow two psychologists who examined Moody to testify they don’t believe Moody had the mental capacity to form premeditation on the day Pettis was shot.

    Overstreet agreed with prosecutor Bob Sombathy’s argument that Florida law prohibits a defense that relies on diminished mental capacity short of insanity. An insanity defense must meet certain legal definitions, and Moody’s mental state doesn’t fit within those definitions.

    Overstreet deemed Moody mentally incompetent to aid in his defense in August. Moody’s competency was restored at the state hospital and Overstreet declared him competent in February.


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  • 04/20/14--18:13: Teen bit by dog
  • BAY COUNTY - A teenager was sent to the hospital for dog bites to both arms and legs after being bitten by a neighbor’s dog Sunday evening.

    The child was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
    He may have been trying to pet the mixed Shepherd Doberman when the dog bit him, said Bay County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Kip McKenzie.

    “I don’t think he took any aggressive action toward the dog,” McKenzie said.

    The teenager had been playing with the dog in a wooded area behind a home, possibly while the owner was present, he said.
    The names of the victim or the owner of the dog were not available Sunday night. Animal Control did not respond to the dog bite call.

    “I’ve talked with officer Fox from Animal Control; she said they were not going to come out today, but that they had verbally told him to quarantine the dog until Monday,” McKenzie said.

    The Animal Control office is closed Sundays and Mondays, according to the county website.

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    PANAMA CITY - A woman sold out her ex-boyfriend but it didn’t do her any good.

    A Panama City police officer spotted a vehicle drive through the parking lot of the Panama City Mall at 2 a.m. recently. Since none of the stores were open the officer decided to find out what brought the driver through the lot.

    The woman said she was in the parking lot to meet a few friends.

    The officer said he could smell weed.

    The officer then asked her to step out of the car so he could search it.

    As she exited the car the woman, “stated out of excited utterance, ‘The weed is in my glove box because my ex-boyfriend put it in there.’"

    The woman then learned that it doesn’t matter how the weed got there if she was the one driving the car when the cops roll up. A fun fact for everyone.

    She was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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