The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office caught a break in its investigation into hidden cameras found last May in three public women’s bathrooms in the Upper Florida Keys.
Detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Charles Schmidt, 36, of Homestead. They say they’ve identified Schmidt as the man seen in several “test videos” mounting coat hooks with the cameras hidden inside of them. The cameras were found in women’s restrooms at Anne’s Beach in Islamorada, the Circle K convenience store at mile marker 99 and at Harry Harris Park off mile marker 91 oceanside in Tavernier.
Deputy Becky Herrin, media relations officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said detectives believe Schmidt left the area with his girlfriend, who she identified as Shelly Arnold, 27. A judge set the bond on Schmidt’s warrant at $450,000. He’s wanted on 14 counts of video voyeurism with a victim 19 years old or older and two counts of video voyeurism with the victim under 16, Herrin said.
The first camera at Anne's Beach was discovered by a Public Works cleaning crew in late May. The second one was found last Memorial Day at Harry Harris. Herrin said there is no telling how long the device was there, and some of the images are of minors.
“Videos were found in the cameras showing women and girls in various states of undress,” Herrin said.
The concealed motion-detector cameras are battery-operated with a small memory card that does not require electrical connections.
Before identifying Schmidt, Herrin said detectives noticed a distinct arm tattoo on the man hanging the cameras. When detectives watched surveillance video from the Circle K shot just before the camera was found there, they noticed a man in the footage with the same tattoo.
“The man walks toward the restrooms, past the men’s restroom and into the women’s restroom, where the camera was located,” Herrin said.
He was wearing a yellow shirt with the logo for Affordable Asphalt written on the back. People at the business identified him when detectives showed them the Schmidt’s photo, Herrin said.
Schmidt owns and lives in a travel trailer and some of the test videos looked like they were shot in a travel trailer bathroom. Some of the videos depict a young girl. After detectives ID’d the girl, they told her mother, who said her daughter is friends with Schmidt’s children and they hang out often. The children have also frequently visited the Keys in Schmidt’s travel trailer, Herrin said.
Anyone with information which could help detectives locate Schmidt should contact the Sheriff's Office at (305) 289-2351. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a Crimestoppers tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crimestoppers hot line number is (800) 346-TIPS. Tips may be made anonymously online at www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.
David Goodhue: 305-440-3204