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    CAMPBELLTON — Police have arrested a man suspected of shooting into a home occupied by a mother and 10 children who has been at large for about a year, officials announced Wednesday.

    The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office had been looking for Thabit Nadir Mateen, 29, since Sept. 26 of last year in connection with a shooting into a Quarters Court mobile home in Campbellton. The mobile home was occupied by a mother and 10 children. No one was injured, JCSO reported.

    After the investigation, Mateen was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling and an arrest warrant was issued out of Jackson County.

    Mateen had eluded capture until his arrest Friday when JCSO got information that Mateen was in Dothan, Ala. After the Dothan Police Department was notified, they arrested Mateen without incident.

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    BELL -- A grandfather, his daughter and six grandchildren ages 3 months to 10 years old died Thursday afternoon as a result of a murder-suicide at the grandfather’s home in northern Gilchrist County, authorities said.
    Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz identified the gunman as Don Charles Spirit, 51, and said the shootings occurred at Spirit’s home near 29th Terrace and 30th Street, northeast of Bell.
    Spirit fatally shot his daughter, whom Schultz declined to identify, and six of his grandchildren, some of whom lived with Spirit at the home, the sheriff said at a news conference Thursday night at the Gilchrist emergency management center near Bell. Schultz also declined to identify the slain children.
    Schultz said there was no apparent motive for the shootings. The sheriff did say that deputies have had to respond to incidents at the home in the past.
    Schultz said the Sheriff’s Office got a 911 call from Spirit at about 4 p.m. Thursday, and, “When he called 911, (Spirit) said enough to alarm us to get someone there, and we needed to get there in a hurry.”
    Schultz said that in the 911 call, Spirit made reference to harming others and himself.
    A Gilchrist County deputy arrived at Spirit’s home, had a discussion with Spirit, at which point Spirit fatally shot himself, Schultz said. At that point, Schultz said authorities went through the home and found the seven others fatally shot.
    Schultz said Spirit has a daughter other than the one he apparently shot on Thursday.
    “There are certain things in life you can explain. And there are certain things you cannot explain. This is something I cannot explain, Schultz told The Sun Thursday night.
    An earlier version of this story is posted below.
    BELL — Two adults and six children are dead as a result of shootings Thursday at a home in northern Gilchrist County.


    Sources said the shootings occurred north of the town of Bell, off a graded road a couple of miles from U.S. 129.

    Sources said they could not release further details involving the deaths, although Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz scheduled a news conference for 7 p.m. Thursday night.

    Bell is small town of just 350 people about 30 miles west of Gainesville.

    This is a breaking news story. Check back later tonight for more information.

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    PANAMA CITY — A Canadian ex-con has been sentenced to about a year in jail for disguising his identity after a marijuana possession arrest.

    Brandon Robert Humphreys, 31, pleaded no contest to two of five counts of forgery Thursday and was sentenced to about a year in Bay County Jail.

    Humphreys, a transient from Canada, was arrested by Lynn Haven police in June for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor offense. During the arrest and subsequent court proceedings, Humphreys forged his signature and told authorities he was a man named Simon James Parker on at least five documents. Humphreys was convicted of violent felony charges in Canada. His true identity was verified by the FBI and Canadian authorities.

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    HILAND PARK — A 26-year-old Panama City man is in critical condition after he was struck by a Buick while crossing a road early Friday morning.

    A Florida Highway Patrol news release said Christopher Michael Conacher was crossing East Avenue just south of the intersection at U.S. 231 shortly before 6 a.m., as Bryan Scott Hoover, 40, also of Panama City, was traveling north on East Avenue approaching the intersection. Hoover’s Buick struck Conacher as he moved into the left turn lane, according to the FHP release.

    Conacher was transported to Bay Medical Center in critical condition.

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    CHIPLEY -- In fallout from the arrest earlier this year of a former Florida Department of Law Enforcement chemist, an appeals court Friday ordered a new trial for a man convicted of trafficking in hydrocodone.

    A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal reversed the conviction and sentence of Gary Kenyon in a Washington County case.

    The two-page ruling said a witness in the case was an FDLE analyst who testified about the nature and quantity of the drugs involved. After Kenyon was convicted, he filed an appeal based on “newly discovered evidence” that the FDLE analyst had been arrested and faced multiple charges, including grand theft of a controlled substance, trafficking in illegal substances and tampering or fabricating physical evidence, according to Friday’s ruling.

    The appeals court did not identify the analyst, but FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger confirmed that Kenyon’s case was processed by Joseph Graves, a chemist whose arrest earlier this year touched off a wide-ranging review of cases he had handled in various parts of Florida.

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    BELL (AP) — An ex-convict who killed six of his grandchildren, his adult daughter and himself had been in and out of jail and spent time in prison for accidentally shooting his son to death during a hunting trip, according to authorities and records.

    Don Spirit, 51, called 911 on Thursday afternoon from his home to say that he might hurt himself or others. By the time a deputy arrived at his home in this small town outside Gainsville, Spirit had committed suicide, according to Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz.

    The bodies of his daughter and her six children were found "all over the property," Schultz said.

    During a news conference Friday, Schultz said Don Spirit couldn't legally have a gun because he was a felon.

    The sheriff wouldn't identify the weapon used to kill the family, but the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office Facebook page said a "deputy searched the residence which revealed multiple victims with apparent gunshot wounds."

    Spirit and his daughter, 28-year-old Sarah Lorraine Spirit, had arrest records and she was on probation for a 2013 grand theft arrest. Her father wasn't on probation at the time of the killings, Schultz said.

    Don Spirit was arrested in 1990 in Tampa on a felony fugitive warrant. Other arrests included misdemeanor battery, drug charges and depriving a child of food and shelter.

    Schultz said deputies had been to the home in the past for various reasons. He didn't have a motive for the murder-suicide.

    "There's still a lot of unanswered questions. There's going to be questions that we're never going to get answered," he said.

    The other victims were: Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11; Kylie Kuhlmann, 9; Johnathon Kuhlmann, 8; Destiny Stewart, 5; Brandon Stewart, 4; and Alanna Stewart, who was born in June.

    Gilchrist County Schools Superintendent Rob Rankin said four of the children attended Bell Elementary School, which has 540 students. They were enrolled in kindergarten, second grade, third grade and fifth grade. A teacher there said she put the children on a bus at 3 p.m. They were found dead at Spirit's home less than two hours later.

    "This has been a trying time for the community," Lt. Jeff Manning, a sheriff's spokesman, said during a press conference.

    He held back tears as he spoke. "I'm not sure how you could get the clear signs that something like this could happen," Manning said.

    Police cordoned off the dirt road leading to the home near Bell, a town of just 350 people about 30 miles west of Gainesville.

    According to the Florida Department of Corrections website, Spirit was released from prison in February 2006. Spirit pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in the fatal shooting of his 8-year-old son, Kyle, in a 2001 hunting accident, according to a 2003 story by the Orlando Sentinel.

    The story said that on a walk through the woods with Kyle and an older son, Spirit pointed out rust on the muzzle of his rifle. The rifle fired, hitting Kyle in the head. Spirit had been convicted in 1998 for felony possession of marijuana.

    Bell resident Barbara Whiddon, who has lived there for 29 years, cried when asked about the tragedy at an area convenience store. She said she knew some of the slain children.

    "It's something that shouldn't have happened. He shouldn't have took his grandkids and his daughter," she said. "If he was going to do something he should have done it to himself. Them babies is God's angels."

    Gov. Rick Scott visited the town Friday to get a briefing about the killings and help the community "get back on its feet."


    Associated Press writer David Fischer in Miami contributed to this report.


    Below is an earlier version:

    BELL (AP) — Teachers, staff members and students are grieving the deaths of six children who were killed by their grandfather in the small, north Florida city of Bell.

    Authorities say 51-year-old Don Spirit killed the children and their mother Thursday afternoon before taking his own life after a Gilchrist County Sheriff's deputy arrived at the home.

    Superintendent Rob Rankin says four of the children attended Bell Elementary School, which has 540 students. They were enrolled in kindergarten, second, third and fifth grades. A teacher says she put the children on a bus at 3 p.m.

    During a news conference on Friday Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz said Don Spirit was not a legal gun owner and wasn't on community control at the time of the shootings. He didn't elaborate.

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    PANAMA CITY — A former Panama City dockmaster has been sentenced on nine counts of stealing public funds.

    Susan Payne, 49, was sentenced to five years probation Thursday for nine of her 11 grand theft charges. The former St. Andrews Marina director took money from the marina by pocketing payments on boat slip rentals. Payne took $3,948 intended as payment for slip rentals and then “altered or circumvented” accounting procedures to balance the marina’s books in, presumably, an attempt conceal the theft, authorities said.

    Payne pleaded no contest to doing this nine times, collecting somewhere between $300 and $5,000 each time. She will repay $4,407 in restitution.

    Additional charges on theft of a $3,500 commercial freezer and witness tampering were dropped.

    Attempts to contact Payne on Friday were unsuccessful.

    Payne started as a low-level public works employee in the 1980s, climbing the ranks through various departments, before faltering once and nearly being fired for allowing a relative to borrow her code enforcement badge. She later became dockmaster at the St. Andrews Marina.

    Payne was fired September 2013 as the marina’s dockmaster after city officials found numerous deficiencies in her job performance. Records indicated she created a hostile work environment, lied to supervisors or the public, used city resources for personal gain and falsified documents.

    Several employees complained of Payne being a bully at the time. Marina employees said Payne would regularly grab her breasts and say: “My breasticles are bigger than your testicles,” and “when your testicles are as big and as high as my breasticles, I will listen to what you have to say.”

    Payne responded that the marina was a “salty” place, according to city documents.

    The Panama City Police Department began a criminal investigation thereafter. Police said Payne tried to influence another marina employee to find and take unspecified documents from the store during their investigation.

    Payne then left for Kentucky, and the reason remains unclear. The U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force for the Western District of Kentucky arrested her in Bowling Green in February. She was determined to not be a flight risk and returned to Bay County on her own.

    She failed to appear Sept. 10 for a pretrial conference, but the court recalled a warrant for her arrest.

    Payne can terminate her probation in three years if all the conditions are met. She also was sentenced to 100 hours of public service.

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    PANAMA CITY — “Blown Away,” a bane to wildlife authorities, hadn’t blown anywhere in at least three years.

    Ever since they noticed the 27-foot 1986 Newport MKII sloop sunk in St. Andrew Bay in August 2011, several Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) officers sought the owner of the derelict sailboat. FWC committed more than 120 man-hours to speaking with relatives, employers and even former landlords in an investigation that included Bay and Okaloosa counties. Officers were met mostly with dead ends until the three-year case came to a close Thursday. 

    Christopher Gary Aceves, 50, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges Thursday for abandoning a vehicle, littering and culpable negligence, carrying a $350 fine and an order to remove the boat.

    The boat, which has an inboard engine, had been run aground between Posten Bayou and Pretty Bayou. Aceves was mooring it at a local marina but, at some point, moved home to Laurel Hill and fell behind on payments. The marina was able to find Aceves and get him to move the boat. Over the following three years, however, FWC officers were not as lucky.

    “The most recent endeavor involved contact with his brother,” FWC officer Drew Nelson wrote in an official reports. “He advised me he had not seen his brother in some time and no longer resided with him in Laurel Hill.”

    Meanwhile, the sloop remained in the water. Marine growth attached to the hull, but other aspects of the boat began to succumb to the wind, weather, seas and sun. The interior was completely swamped and all hardware and equipment was a loss.

    Attempts to contact Aceves were unsuccessful.

    Other than being an eyesore to officials, the boat posed a health and safety concern.

     “He did not illuminate or mark the boat so as to be visible to other waterborne traffic,” Nelson said.

    Unsecured items on board also had littered the bay, but the boat was not an environmental hazard, FWC officers reported.

    Officers basically waited for Aceves to come to them. He was arrested in Bay County in March on a charge of breaking into a car and then cited for abandoning Blown Away.

    Aceves has been ordered to remove the boat and cover the cost of doing so. A timeline for the boat’s removal was unclear Thursday.

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    CARRABELLE — In what has become a frequent exercise, Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews on Friday fired 32 workers accused of breaking the law, including three prison guards involved in the gassing death of an inmate at a Franklin County prison four years ago.

    All of the workers fired were on administrative leave pending a review launched earlier this summer. The housecleaning is part of the secretary’s attempt to salvage the reputation of the beleaguered agency in the wake of reports of widespread abuse and corruption, whistleblower complaints and federal investigations surrounding prisoner deaths.

    Among the axed workers are Rollin Austin, Randall Johnson and Kevin Hampton, three former prison guards at Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle where inmate Randall Jordan-Aparo died after allegedly being repeatedly gassed by guards and then left to die.

    Dismissal letters from Crews to the workers say they are being let go because they “participated in a force incident that resulted in the death of an inmate.” None of the fired workers has been arrested or charged with any crimes.

    Four Department of Corrections investigators say they’ve been retaliated against for exposing a cover-up about Jordan-Aparo’s September 2010 death. The investigators claim that Gov. Rick Scott’s chief inspector general Melinda Miguel —- who refused to grant them whistleblower protection —- was aware of the cover-up for at least three years. The DOC investigators, who found that Jordan-Aparo was too ill to warrant being treated as a threat, are themselves now the subjects of internal reviews.

    According to a whistleblower lawsuit, Austin gave the order to gas Jordan-Aparo, who died five hours later after being gassed twice more and being left to die. The 27-year-old, coated in yellow residue from the noxious chemicals, was found dead in solitary confinement with a Bible beside his head. Jordan-Aparo was serving an 18-month sentence for fraud and drug charges.

    Also fired Friday were nine Charlotte Correctional Institution guards involved in the April 11 death of inmate Matthew Walker, who was allegedly beaten to death while handcuffed. Walker’s death —- and that of another inmate who died at the Punta Gorda facility a month later —- are among more than 80 inmate deaths now being probed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

    Fifteen prison guards at Union Correctional Institution, all under investigation for use-of-force incidents against prisoners over the past two years, were also pink-slipped Friday. Another guard at the Raiford prison was also fired for unspecified reasons.

    Crews’ review also resulted in three employees being sent back to work, including the assistant warden at the Raiford prison, Nan Jeffcoat, who has been on leave with pay since the death of an inmate two years ago.

    “I have made it clear that there is zero tolerance for corruption or abuse at the Department of Corrections, and we continue to root out any-and-all bad actors who do not live up to our expectations. Our standards are high and we will accept nothing less to ensure the safety of our staff and those in our custody, as well as Florida families,” Crews said.

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — A meth-den sting at a beach condominium complex yielded four arrests Friday and prompted one cuffed man to jump from the second story in an escape attempt.

    The Bay County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Division was conducting a search of an unnamed condominium complex in Panama City Beach when they located about a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine in ice form in the possession of Mikeal Meadows, 39. As they swept the residence, deputies found 41-year-old Angela Dotson trying to flush evidence into a toilet.

    The sweep continued, and deputies found Barry Roberts, 42, in possession of an opiate. As investigators were conducting the search, Zachery Jenkins, 32, showed up at the condo. A warrants check was run and authorities discovered Jenkins was wanted on an active warrant for escaping the law.

    Jenkins was detained and placed into handcuffs, but Jenkins, with hands handcuffed behind him, in another escape attempt jumped from the second floor of the complex and hid under a car at the condos.

    Jenkins was quickly located and arrested on attempted escape.

    Meadows was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of MDMA. Dotson was charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance, possession of MDMA and tampering with evidence. Dotson was also on probation and charged with violation of probation. Roberts was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

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    BELL -- When Donald Charles Spirit killed his daughter and six grandchildren Thursday afternoon, as authorities allege, it was not the first time he had killed a family member.

    On Nov. 14, 2001, in the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Osceola County, Spirit accidentally shot his 9-year-old son Kyle when he was putting his .300-caliber Browning rifle in its case after hunting.

    While the shooting was ruled an accident, it led to new legal charges because Spirit had been in trouble with the law before the death.

    Now Spirit is dead, having committed suicide outside his house after a deputy responded to a 911 call Spirit had made mentioning harm to others and himself.

    “It is another screaming example of what a miserably bad combination that mental health problems — this guy must have had them — and guns or any sort weapons pose,” State Attorney Bill Cervone said Friday. “There is certainly no easy answer, and I don’t know if there is an answer at all given where our society is at.”

    Spirit is not the only family member who has seen the inside of jail or prison.

    The daughter whom he killed, Sarah Spirit, 28, had been convicted of grand theft.

    Edward Kuhlmann, the father of three of the children slain in Thursday’s shooting in Bell, is currently in Calhoun Correctional Institution on 12 convictions from 2013 on a variety of charges including burglary and grand theft.

    A law enforcement source with knowledge of the case said the father of the three other slain children is currently in jail facing charges.

    An affidavit filed by Osceola County authorities states that Spirit was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after the death of his son. The report notes previous convictions in Florida and New Jersey.

    The convictions that led to the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon were a third-degree felony for marijuana possession from Hillsborough County and repeated cases of driving without a license.

    Spirit’s wife at the time, Christine, wrote a 2003 letter to the judge pleading for leniency. She said he was not mentally strong enough to serve the mandatory sentence of three years.

    “The loss of our son has really taken a toll on him, and he blames himself everyday. He has punished himself more than the court system ever could punish him,” she wrote. “Since our son’s death, my husband has been severely depressed. The doctors have not found a medication yet to help him. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t catch him crying.”

    Christine Spirit wrote that Spirit had been in crisis stabilization twice and that she was fearful he would hurt himself.

    Kissimmee lawyer Don Waggoner, Spirit’s attorney in the case, said Friday that Spirit was sentenced to three years. It was an emotional time, Waggoner said, but he never got a sense from Spirit that he would ever kill his daughter and grandchildren.

    “I’m really sad for him and for his family. I heard he was having some problems up there,” Waggoner said. “I wouldn’t have thought of him being violent or particularly dangerous to anyone. This was out of the blue and unexpected.”

    In addition to the weapons charge, Spirit was convicted in Hillsborough County of battery, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, driving without a valid license and depriving a child of food or shelter.

    All of the charges were prior to the accidental shooting.

    Meanwhile, Kuhlmann is the father of three of Spirit’s grandchildren who were killed — Kylie Kuhlmann, 9; Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11; and Jonathon Kuhlmann, 8.

    He is in Calhoun Correctional Institution, with a projected release date of 2038, according to the Florida Department of Corrections website.

    Kuhlmann previously spent time in prison from a 2006 resisting-arrest charge in Alachua County and numerous burglary, grand theft and weapons charges from Gilchrist and Hillsborough counties.

    Sarah Spirit was on supervised probation after sentencing in May for a 2013 grand theft case in Gilchrist County, DOC reported.

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    PANAMA CITY — Local authorities are asking for help to identify people using fake credit cards to make fraudulent transactions at various businesses around Bay County.

    “They were seen in town on Friday, but there’s no way to know if they’re local,” said Ruth Corley, public information officer with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

    A news release said investigators with the sheriff’s office and Parker Police Department believe the perpetrators are using cards encoded with the stolen credit card information.

    Four in the group are described as large black men seen traveling in a black, late-model Chevrolet Avalanche with chrome rims.

    Two of them were captured on security cameras Friday as they made purchases using the encoded cards. Corley said the men used the cards at gas stations and grocery stores, among other places.

    Hackers commonly sell stolen credit card information online. Criminals can load the information onto any card with a magnetic strip using a card reader, similar to how hotel room keys are loaded. Imposter cards then contain the account holder’s name, card number and security code.

    “With the recent breaches in major retailers, it’s possible they obtained the information that way, but there’s no way to tell until we catch them,” Corley said.

    She encourages local businesses to become members of the F.I.R.S.T. Program. The acronym stands for Financial Institutions and Retail businesses Stopping Theft. The program is a partnership between the sheriff’s office and businesses to prevent fraud and other crimes.

    For instances of fraudulent cards or counterfeit currency, Corley said F.I.R.S.T. members receive email notifications about possible fraud, including photos or videos of suspicious use often before they become available to the media.

    Banks or retailers interested in the program can contact Investigator Craig Romans at 850-248-2075 or at

    Corley said often it’s not possible to know if a debit or credit card is counterfeit, but cashiers should alert their managers if they suspect a card is not legitimate.

    Anyone with information about the fraudsters should contact the sheriff’s office at 850-747-4700 or Crime Stoppers at 850-785-TIPS.

    “We are asking for the public and retailers to pay special attention to this video or this picture to help identify these guys,” Corley said. “We think they may still be in town.”

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    EASTPOINT — The 46-year-old Eastpoint man charged in the bludgeoning death of a registered sexual predator in May has said he doesn’t recall striking the victim with an axe handle, and so far there are few individuals at the scene that night willing to come forward to say he did.

    Bobby J. Bullock Jr. faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Norman Bill Williams, 59, which police say took place sometime before 8:30 p.m. at a house on Washington Street.

    An autopsy report from Dr. Lisa M. Flannagan, with the medical examiner’s office, said she found “blunt force trauma and hemorrhage. It appears that (Williams) was struck by a very significant impact near the base of the skull near left ear. The source of hemorrhage in this area is often difficult to locate.”

    A possible murder trial is still months away. “We plan to perform a rigorous defense at trial on the behalf of Mr. Bullock,” said Bullock’s attorney, Thomas Cassidy, from Port St. Joe.

    Murder scene

    According to law enforcement reports and court documents, this is what happened the night of May 10:

    Deputy Jamie Shiver, first to arrive at the scene about 8:23 p.m., found emergency medical technicians administering CPR to Williams, who was later pronounced dead at Weems Memorial Hospital.

    While Shiver’s report indicates several individuals at the home that night believe Bullock struck Williams with an axe handle, only one 14-year-old has come forward to say he actually witnessed the apparent slaying.

    The boy said he saw Williams arguing with David Holstein, husband of his grandmother Sarah Vinson, who they call Nupi, The boy said Holstein was ordering Williams to leave because he had groped Angela Law, known as “Shortly.”

    The boy told police Bullock walked up behind Williams and struck him with an axe handle. He then “staggered a short distance and fell over a grill onto the ground,” said the boy.

    A half hour later, the boy told the deputy he checked Williams for a pulse and could not detect one. The deputy said permission for the interview was granted by the boy’s mother.

    Holstein told police that in addition to groping Law, Williams had “become aggressive towards people at the home.” He said he ordered Williams to leave, but he refused. Holstein said he went inside the house, and when he returned a little later, he found Williams collapsed on the ground near an overturned grill. He told the deputy he did not know what had happened.

    Law told police Williams had grabbed her “butt, breast and vagina area on top of her clothing.” She said Holstein and Williams began arguing, and she went inside to tell Sarah Vinson “that Bill needs to be made to leave.” Law said when she walked back outside and saw Williams on the ground. “She knows Bullock hit Bill in the head,” wrote Shiver. “But did not see it happen.”

    Philip Vinson told police he was inside Sarah Vinson’s home when the incident occurred, and that “he is not going to lie like everyone else is coaching each other to do. He is going to tell the truth because someone died.”

    Vinson said that while he did not witness Bullock hitting Williams, “he is basing his account of events on what he could hear taking place, and what others have said while coaching each other to lie. Witnesses have said they are lying because (Law) is on probation and is afraid she will be violated for being around alcohol.”

    Sarah Vinson said she watched from a window “but is not going to make a truthful statement because she is afraid press coverage will affect her rental income.”

    Bullock’s sister, Sheila Monroe told police she was at home on Shuler Street when her brother came by around 9 p.m. and said he was in a fight with Williams. Monroe said people told her Bullock had hit Williams in the head with an axe handle but “she does not believe her brother would kill someone intentionally,” according to the police report.

    “She has also been made aware that Williams had been tormenting Bullock for the past two days. Williams was telling Bullock that he raped his mother and grandmother years ago and Bullock was powerless to stop it,” Shiver wrote. “Monroe feels this may have played a part in the incident, however she does not know if it did.”

    Charlie Goodwin said he did not see the incident but was told Bullock struck Williams with an axe. Goodwin led Shiver to an area where he has an axe stored and identified it as having been used by Bullock to strike Williams. Goodwin also provided a second axe that he said “had nothing to do with the killing.” Goodwin refused to explain how he was able to identify the axe used, wrote the deputy.

    Ruby Rutherford said she was at Sarah Vinson’s home with other witnesses, when she saw Williams playing cards and sitting along with everyone. Williams was eating a plate of spaghetti at about 7:50 p.m. when Rutherford went to the store, she told the deputy, and when she returned about 20 to 30 minutes later, she found Williams dead on the front lawn. Both Law and Holstein said Bullock had hit Williams and fled. She was also told by witnesses that Williams had fell over a grill.

    Bullock said after Williams refused to leave, and began cussing at Holstein, he walked up and hit him, “but does not remember hitting him with an axe handle. (He) said he believes he only hit him with a closed fist, due to his wrist being swollen now.”

    Bullock told the deputy he thought he had knocked Williams unconscious and had no idea he was dead. He said he then went to Monroe’s house, where he remained until deputies came to question him.

    Dead man’s past

    Williams attracted widespread media attention in September, 2011, when he fled the woods outside Eastpoint after being released there from a stint in state prison. Because he was a sexual predator who was shunned by his family, Williams had no place else he could legally stay, so probation officials placed a tracker on Williams’ leg and told him to remain in the woods. He shed the device, and fled.

    Two weeks later he was apprehended in Lafourche Parish, a fishing village in southwest Louisiana. At that time, Williams had an extensive criminal history, with numerous arrests stretching over several counties in Florida, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana. Prior arrests were for such crimes as armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, larceny, burglary, grand theft auto and drug possession.

    After serving more than two years for failure to register as a sexual offender, Williams was released earlier this year to a residence in Tallahassee. He returned to Franklin County the week prior to his murder, and registered May 10 as a sexual predator in Franklin County, with an address of 407 U.S 98 in Eastpoint.

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    PANAMA CITY — Authorities conducting surprise contacts with registered sex offenders in Bay County have arrested 43 people suspected of violating terms of their convictions, and even came across a group they have charged with operating a meth lab.

    Officers with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted impromptu face-to-face visits with about 380 registered sex offenders from Sept. 15 to Sept. 18 as part of Operation Safe Child. Of those contacted, authorities found 43 were in violation of sex offender restrictions and arrested them on charges ranging from failure to register an email address to possession of narcotics, officials announced Monday.

    “They are required to follow strict guidelines by the court,” said Sheriff Frank McKeithen. “Once they are a designated sex offender, they become limited to where they can live and what they can do.”

    (Search the FDLE sexual predator database)

    During one contact, warrant officers removed a bubbling one-liter soda bottle — fearing it would explode — from an Indiana Avenue home in Lynn Haven where Eric Elkins, 32; Ashley Gainey, 22; and Latesha Marie Reed, 33, had been staying. Deputies also found a backpack with all the materials used to make meth, including straws, syringes and “meth boats,” officers reported.

    The bottle tested positive for methamphetamine, and the group members were charged with meth manufacturing.

    BCSO regularly conducts contacts with registered sex offenders within the county — more often than state law requires, McKeithen said. And with the advent of social media, authorities also check the sex offender’s online activity.

    Just like a physical address, sex offenders are required to register virtual addresses. Four of those arrested failed to report email or instant messenger activity.

    “Some of them don’t do that, and this is something we have to stay on,” McKeithen said, noting some sex offenders use social media to engage in restricted activities.

    Several individuals with outstanding warrants were apprehended and some had an extensive history of violations.

    Norman Rushton, 80, was originally arrested in 2012 in Bay County during an Internet crimes against children operation. Rushton was charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and use of the Internet to lure a child before fleeing Bay County for Costa Rica. Before his departure, he was located and arrested in a hotel in Niceville. Rushton later cut off his GPS monitor and again fled Bay County. He was tracked down and arrested for the third time by the task force in Weaverville, California without incident last Monday.

    BCSO, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the Panama City Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Corrections, Parole and Probation, the Office of Inspector General and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the contacts.

    Operation Safe Child 2014 arrest list:

    Norman Rushton, age 80, apprehended in California

    CHARGES: Use of a Computer to Solicit or Lure a Child

    Albert Schwendeman, age 42, Cahoun County

    CHARGES: Sexual Battery on a Child Under 16 Lewd and Lascivious Assault

    Raymond George Blum, age 48, of 5425 Berthe Nelson Road, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Brett Corley Clark, age 32, of 3831 Biltmore Drive, Panama City

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    William Alexander Eckman, age 30, 2713 Nelson, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Report Email Address Instant Msg

    Keith Warren McCoy, age 51, 3301 E. 2nd Court, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Johnathan Carey Bailey, age 36.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Christopher Shawn Forehand, age 41.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Robby Wayne Strickland, age 35, of 2431 Anne Avenue, Panama City Beach.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to register as Required and VOP: Lewd and Lascivious

    Brian Earl Nelms, age 42, of 5664 E. Hwy. 98, Panama City Beach.

    CHARGES: FFJ: Sex Abuse on Child Less Than 16 (Mobile County, Ala.) and Larceny-Theft

    Steven Joseph Colunio, age 34, of 7105 Collins Apt. D, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Registration

    Bobby Wesley Dean Bicknell, age 32, transient.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Joseph Daniel Baer, Jr., age 40, of 611 W. 11th Street, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to register as Required

    Louis Randolph Merricks, age 49, of 710 E. 15th Street, Panama City

    CHARGES: VOP Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required and Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required.

    Mark Allan Phillips, age 43, of 1905 Alabama Avenue, Panama City.

    CHARGES: VOP Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Darrell Jerome Davidson, age 34, of 319 Kraft Avenue, Panama City.

    CHARGES: VOP Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    John Thomas Templeton, age 48, of 2100 Pentland Road, Lynn Haven.

    CHARGES: VOP Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Report Email Address Instant Msg

    Daniel James Jorgensen, age 30.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    James William Batton, age 44, of 1221 1st Street, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Registration

    Codey Monroe (CODY) Tucker, age 21, of 5734 Shannon Circle, Bayou George.

    CHARGES: Possession of Child Pornography

    Matthew James Tucker, age 26, of 5734 Shannon Circle, Bayou George.

    CHARGES: VOP Possession of Child Pornography

    Gregory Steven Allyn Carver, age 21, of 8020 Betty Louise Road, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sexual Offender Violation: Failure to Report Email Address Instant Msg and VOP Use of Computer Online to Solicit Sex Act from a Minor, Travel to Meet

    Matthew Shaun Parker, age 39, of 910 Harrison Avenue, Panama City.

    CHARGES: VOP Sex Offender Failure to Comply

    Steven Andrew Lyons, age 21, of 321 13th Street, Panama City.

    CHARGES: VOP Agg Battery w/ Weapon and Failure to Register as Required

    Richard William Wynn, age 34.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required(x2) and Child Support,

    Richard Martin Thome, Jr., age 41, of 8320 Freese, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Failure to Register as Sexual Offender and Sex Offender Registration

    Phillip Larry Bass, age 33, of 9307 Resota Beach Road, Southport.

    CHARGES: Narcotic Equipment, Possession and or Use. VOCC: Grand Theft, and Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Christopher Wayne Hall, age 39, of 7119 Lawrence Road, Panama City.

    CHARGES: VOP: Lewd and Lascivious Molestation

    Janice Marie Brown, age 53, of 351 College Avenue, Apt A, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation and Providing False Information to LE About a Sex Offender

    Ricky Lamar Frazier, age 47, of 351 College Avenue, Apt. A, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation and Harbor ATT Harbor Asst Harboring Sex Offender

    Chadwick Cleao Six, Age 47, of 1008 W. 12th Court, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Domestic Batt, Obstructing Justice, and Violation of Pretrial Release—GT

    Richard Martin Blackburn, age 49, of 121434 Highway 231, Youngstown.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Comply and VOP-Lewd and Lascivious

    Sean Allen Hayes, age 42, of 9157 Sunshine drive, Youngstown.

    CHARGES: VOP Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required and Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Ronald Rudy Vincent, age 61, of 6242 Blue Gill Drive, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Report Email Instant Msg

    Eric Allen Elkins, age 32, of 3120 Minnesota Avenue, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Trafficking in Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Manufacture Meth, and Recommit: Poss of Meth

    Ashley Kyra Gainey, age 22, of 7100 Noel Road, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Manufacture of Meth, Trafficking in Meth, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

    Latesha Marie Reed, age 33, of 3900 W. 25th Street, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Manufacture of Meth, Trafficking in Meth, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

    Edward Punay Sotengo, age 54, of 1705 Cincinatti Avenue, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required and VOP Failure to Register as a Sex Offender

    Laterrance Vantagious Johnson, age 39, of 3307 Baldwin Road, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Frankie Lynn Bullock, age 51, of 2709 East Avenue.

    CHARGES: Sex Offender Violation: Failure to Register as Required

    Bernard Perez, age 49, of 5505 Sun Harbor Road, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Failure to Register as Required and VOP Failure to Register as Required

    Richard Knox, age 59, of 4603 N. Hwy. 231, Panama City.

    CHARGES: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

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    LYNN HAVEN — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office has asked for the public’s help in locating missing juvenile Austin Smith.

    Smith, 15, was last seen at 10 a.m. on Friday at Mosley High School. He is described as a white male, 5-foot-7-inches and 160 pounds with medium-length blond hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a turquoise shirt, blue hooded sweatshirt, khaki pants and blue shoes and may be riding a black bicycle. Investigators believe Austin is still in Bay County and may be staying with friends.

    Contact the BCSO at (850) 747-4700 with information.

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH -- The Bay County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the death of a 55-year-old man after he was pulled from the Gulf of Mexico.

    The man’s name was not released.

    BCSO officials said they do not suspect foul play in the death of the man found Saturday at 5115 Gulf Drive. First responders arrived to the stretch of beach near where Lobster Fest had taken place to an unresponsive male. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital but was later pronounced dead, BCSO said.

    An autopsy is being conducted by the Medical Examiner’s office.

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    GAINESVILLE (AP) — With an edgy yet calm voice, Donald Spirit told a 911 dispatcher he had just killed his six grandchildren, including a baby, and would wait until authorities arrived before going to his back porch and killing himself.

    “Yes, ma'am. I just shot my daughter and shot all my grandkids. And I'll be sitting on my steps and when you get here I'm going to shoot myself,” Spirit, 51, said in the 911 call released Tuesday.

    He placed the call Thursday from his mobile home in the rural north Florida town of Bell after killing his daughter, 28-year-old Sarah Spirit, and her six children: Kaleb Kuhlmann, 11; Kylie Kuhlmann, 9; Johnathon Kuhlmann, 8; Destiny Stewart, 5; Brandon Stewart, 4; and Alanna Stewart, who was born in June.

    The dispatcher asked Spirit what kind of gun he had, and he told her it did not matter.

    “When you get here, I'll shoot myself and then you can figure out what kind of gun it is,” he said, starting to sound angry.

    “You got all the kids are dead in the house. ... Six kids, one adult. ... One of them is a baby.”

    He then repeated that he planned to shoot himself on his back step once officers arrived. The dispatcher can be heard whispering to someone that she needs help before the recording is cut off.

    When deputies arrived on scene, they had a brief verbal exchange with Spirit before he shot himself, according to the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office.

    Inside the mobile home, the bodies of the six children were scattered. The bodies of Spirit and his daughter were found in different areas outside the home.

    The sheriff's office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement said they released the 911 recording because they are in the final stages of the investigation.

    Spirit used a .45-caliber handgun, and the FDLE and the sheriff's office have said they are looking into how he obtained a gun. As a felon, he was barred from owning firearms.

    The killings have shattered the town of about 500 people about 43 miles west of Gainesville and spurred questions about why Florida's Department of Children and Families had not intervened.

    It was well known in Bell that the Spirit family had run-ins with the law. Donald Spirit served time after accidentally shooting his young son on a hunting trip.

    A police report from 2008 showed that Sarah Spirit had reported being beaten by her father when she was 36 weeks pregnant.

    Two weeks before the killings, someone called a state child abuse hotline to report that adults were doing drugs in front of the kids, according to documents released by DCF.

    Documents also showed that DCF had offered services to Sarah Spirit at least three times in the last few years.

    Roy Miller, president of The Children's Campaign, said the state has failed too many times over the years in gruesome child abuse deaths.

    “We need systemic change to how we do investigations,” said Miller, whose group unsuccessfully pushed the Legislature this year to transfer investigations to local sheriff departments on a voluntary basis. Currently, sheriff's agencies handle child abuse investigations in only six of Florida's 67 counties.

    “Had a sheriff's investigator showed up ... we believe the sheriff's department would have been better informed and possibly more aggressive.”

    DCF's regional managing director Dennis Miles said Tuesday that there appeared to be several red flags but that the agency needs to look deeper at what happened.

    After the slayings, a team of staffers was sent to investigate, per state protocol.

    Miles said the team will look at previous interactions with the family, and "find out what went right, what went wrong and kind of give us some answers. Right now we don't have answers.

    Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he is asking for an investigation of DCF actions before the slayings.

    “I've asked the (DCF) secretary to do a thorough investigation of all interactions to know what happened there, but right now the most important thing we can do is pray for that family because you just can't imagine it happening to your family.”

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    PANAMA CITY - Officials are asking for public assistance in locating a man suspected of credit card fraud, Bay County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday.

    Investigators believe the credit card information was stolen and then encoded on another card. The fraudulent card was then used at retail businesses on West 23rd Street in Panama City. BCSO released a video — posted at — of the suspect using the stolen credit card information.

    (See video)

    The suspect is described as a black male, late 40s or early 50s, about 6-feet-tall with a heavy build. He was last seen wearing a tan golf hat, dark blue T-shirt, khaki shorts, dark athletic shoes and eyeglasses.

    Anyone with information about this suspect is asked to contact the Bay County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at 785-TIPS.

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    PANAMA CITY BEACH — A high-speed motorcycle wreck over the weekend sent metal shrapnel tearing through a motel billboard.

    Ricardo Keith, of North Dakota, was taken to a local hospital following the wreck Sunday at about 11:30 p.m. His condition was stable following surgery Monday, according to Panama City Beach Police.

    Keith, 23, was ejected when he failed to negotiate the turn at Front Beach Road and Hutchinson Boulevard. Eyewitnesses told police he was traveling about 100 mph on a 2013 Honda as he approached the fence in front of Casa Loma Motel at 13615 Front Beach Road, where Keith lost control of the motorcycle and left the road, law enforcement reported. At one point, parts of the bike launched about 25 feet into the air.

    According to police reports, Keith ran off the road and struck the curb before careening through the plastic fence. He remained on the motorcycle, severing a power pole guy-wire, before it became snagged in the grass and tossed Keith from the seat.

    As the bike tumbled across the grass, pieces of it became airborne and tore through the 25-foot-tall Casa Loma billboard about 50 feet from the road, police reported. The motorcycle came to a rest on the grass and Keith was slung further across the grass, onto the  eastbound lane of Front Beach Road continues.

    Keith sustained severe injuries to his right forearm and lower right leg, police reported. No charges have been filed. 

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    ALBANY, N.Y. — Two dozen family and friends of a missing New York man rallied outside a Federal Bureau of Investigations field office where FBI Director James Comey was visiting Tuesday.

    Reny Jose, 22, from suburban Albany, has been missing since he went with college friends to Panama City Beach in March. The family and friends held up photographs of him, hoping to interest Comey and the FBI in trying to find him.

    His sister, Reashma Jose, said they were told an agent would talk with them about her brother’s case on Wednesday.

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