In the Middle and Lower Keys, 2017 was a year of gruesome crime and strange news.
In late March, a Big Pine Key woman was arrested for going on a bloody rampage and stabbing her fiancé the night of his birthday party.
Heather Evans, 27, has been in the Stock Island jail on $1,025,000 bond since allegedly stabbing Clifford Case, 33, the night of March 26 and throwing the knife into woods behind their home. Case died of his injuries a day later. The couple’s four children were reportedly in the house at the time.
On April 24, Kyle Ian Miller, 29, of Marathon was arrested for second-degree murder after allegedly stabbing his friend in a trailer at the Key by the Sea condo complex and taking off in a stolen car.
Miller allegedly stabbed 34-year-old Andre Howard of Marathon after Howard made unwanted sexual advances. Miller has been in the Stock Island jail on $1,020,000 bond since.
An eviction on Duck Key turned deadly the night of Aug. 18 when police say Ryan Wilder, 32, of Winter Springs, Fla., shot and killed Kenneth Palicki, 47, four times after a dispute broke out over Palicki and his girlfriend being evicted from the home Wilder’s parents own. In November, he was released from the Stock Island jail after paying $750,000 bond and he is awaiting court action.
A drunk Rhode Island man who couldn’t find his car keys and “needed something to drive” was arrested for stealing a forklift from Marina Junction in Marathon March 9. Edward Quinton, 44, was facing two misdemeanor DUI counts, felony criminal mischief, burglary and grand theft, but died in July before he was charged.
Mid-May, former Marathon restaurant owner Michael Savinelli pleaded not guilty to 70 additional felony charges on top of six he was already facing for having sexually explicit images of minors on his computer. Investigators turned up 69 more images depicting sexual conduct of children as young as under age 5 as well as one video depicting sexual battery of a child. Savinelli’s bond was set at $420,000. He paid bail and has been living in Durham, Conn., with his mother while awaiting court action.
In late May, two men reportedly broke into the IHOP restaurant at mile marker 50.5, cooked breakfast then threw an office safe off the roof. The two would-be cooks, who reportedly were wearing black tank tops, were wanted for misdemeanor theft, criminal mischief and felony burglary but have not been found.
In July, seven out-of-state men ranging in age from 19 to 57 were handed hundreds of misdemeanor charges each for allegedly spearing hundreds of lobster near the Vaca Cut Bridge in Marathon July 9. Each is now facing two felonies and 31 misdemeanors.
July 12, A Key West man was arrested in Marathon for allegedly transporting 314 grams of cocaine police say he hid inside a Cookie Monster doll. The arrest of Camus McNair, 39, made national news after a search of his vehicle turned up a backpack, inside of which was a blue Cookie Monster doll that the arresting officer “thought was heavier than a typical stuffed animal.” McNair was handed two felony charges for cocaine trafficking and drug equipment possession.
Former Marathon Garbage Service employee Michelle Ludwig, 35, turned herself in July 24 after allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from her former employer. For her 167 counts each of grand theft, forgery and fraud, a total of 501 felonies, after Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigators say she signed and cashed checks made out to herself from the business. She entered a plea and paid about $250,000 in restitution up front, according to assistant State Attorney Jon Byrne. She’s been put on probation for 15 years.
Dec. 15, a Key Largo man convicted of felony animal cruelty after nearly killing a Labrador retriever puppy in 2010 was sentenced to five years of probation and nine months in county jail. Noah Mitchell, 40, inflicted injuries on Bubba the dog consistent with being hit by a car or dropped off a balcony, veterinarians say.
On top of probation and nine months in county jail, Byrne said Mitchell will have to undergo a psychological evaluation and do eight hours of community service a month while on probation. He is barred from possessing any animals or caring for animals that belong to others for the duration.