Mount Dora

Woman, 70, Hits Woman Blowing Leaves and Flees Because She Didn’t Want to be Late for Her Appointment, Suspect Tells FHP

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A Mount Dora woman was arrested Monday after hitting a woman blowing leaves and fleeing the scene, according to an arrest affidavit.

Florida Highway Patrol responded to Sullivan Ranch just before 11 a.m. Monday on a report of a hit-and-run crash. The victim, a 49-year-old woman, told a trooper she was blowing leaves on Sullivan Ranch Boulevard in unincorporated Mount Dora when an elderly woman hit her in a gray Toyota. The victim said she attempted to speak to the woman, but she said, “she did not have time to sit there and wait for someone to show up,” the affidavit states.

The victim was able to get the tag number on the car and said the car should have a damaged right mirror from the collision. FHP obtained a name and address for the registered owner and the victim said she was in a lot of pain and she was transported to AdventHealth Waterman in Tavares for treatment.

FHP went to the home of the registered owner, also in Sullivan Ranch, and spoke to him. He said his wife, Karin Elizabeth Sanfilippo was driving the Toyota Corolla that the trooper found had an extremely damaged right mirror. Sanfilippo, 70, admitted she was driving and said she “did not want to be late to an appointment she had,” the affidavit states.

Sanfilippo was arrested for leaving the scene of a crash with injuries and transported to the Lake County Jail, where she was released on $5,000 bond.  

City of Mount Dora Creates Controversy with New Social Media Policy

MOUNT DORA, Florida—A new social media policy enacted by the City of Mount Dora is creating quite a stir.

Officially beginning Friday, comments are no longer permitted on any of the city’s social media pages, according to posts on the city’s official Facebook page and Mount Dora Police Department’s Facebook page Wednesday.

The posts (identical on both pages) stated, “To better serve City of Mount Dora residents and visitors, we have made the conscious decision to turn off the commenting and messaging features on all of our social media accounts beginning Friday, January 27th, 2023. Moving forward each of our posts will include ways to connect with us directly based on the nature of the post. We are excited to be able to serve you more quickly and more efficiently. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us @ [email protected] or via phone @ (352) 735-7100 ext 1102. Thank you for your continued support!”

But residents and visitors aren’t buying it. Dozens of people have posted in popular local “word of mouth” Facebook groups and on their personal social media pages expressing their displeasure at the new policy. Ironically, comments were disabled for that post, despite it stating the policy would begin Friday.

Jennifer Etter, administrator of Mount Dora Florida Word of Mouth Facebook group will no longer allow the city to post in the group.  

“Censorship at its finest. Guess they don’t like hearing people express their feelings. From now on, I’m making the conscious decision to revoke their ability to post anything related to their office in this group, including fundraising and events. Sounds fair,” Etter posted when she shared the post from MDPD.

In a later comment, Etter, said, “They’re upset because they’re being held accountable. Disabling the comments is their version of “we won’t be held accountable if you can’t voice an opinion.”

The decision comes after three recent Facebook posts by Mount Dora Police Department that garnered more than 300 comments each, most of them unfavorable.  

Inside Lake asked City of Mount Dora Spokesperson Vershurn Ford several questions Friday morning, including the following:

“Why the new policy? Is it because the last three posts by Mount Dora Police Department (before the policy change) garnered more than 300 comments each, most of them unfavorable?” Inside Lake asked by email.

Ford responded, “With many different electronic formats to allow residents and visitors options to connect with us, we felt it was in our best interest here at the City to focus on those other formats. The City maintains social media accounts for many reasons, however, the main focus for us are to communicate policy, city-related services, changes in services, public notices and upcoming events, just to name a few. We will continue providing these elements.”

We asked Ford, “Many people are unable to make city meetings because of conflicting work and family obligations; doesn’t the city feel like this is silencing their voice and the city will lose opportunities for feedback to make the city better?”

Ford said, “Residents and visitors are always welcome to connect with us via phone, email, text and or by general inquiry on our website. The ways to connect with us are endless. We never want people to miss out on City meetings, but we get that life happens,” he said. “On our website we stream city meetings live and moments after, a copy is available for download.”

Etter disagrees, “I am anti-censorship as an American and I think censorship on social media has gotten out of control. People have a right to voice their concerns and as the admin for this group (Mount Dora Florida Word of Mouth,) I am not happy that they have chosen to censor their readers in an effort to thwart public scrutiny for their actions, whether positive, negative or perceived. People have a right to do so. They also have a right to peacefully protest…and they may not have a voice in public office or feel that they have any power otherwise to make a difference. Silencing them by closing comments is cowardly if they do not choose to face public opinion.”

 Inside Lake also asked who created this policy and did not receive an answer.

INSIDE LAKE EXCLUSIVE: Daughter of Local Musician Killed in Crash Last Summer and Crash Survivor Tell Their Story Only to Inside Lake

MOUNT DORA, Florida—It has been nearly six months since Emily Lowe got the call that changed her life.

In the early morning hours of July 23, 2022, Lowe’s father, beloved local musician Robert Wilson was attempting to push his minivan off a curb on Old U.S. Highway 441 across from Dairy Queen in Mount Dora when good Samaritan Michael Dickey saw him and stopped to help.

“I thought, man, somebody is going to hit him,” Dickey told Inside Lake earlier this week, “and I’ll be damned if what I thought happened.”  

Wilson’s tire was stuck on the curb and could not get any traction. After unsuccessfully trying to push the van off the curb, Dickey suggested they use his truck, a Nissan Frontier, to pull the minivan off the curb. Dickey, who was headed home after working late at his furniture refinishing shop in Tavares, had a flashlight in his hand and was starting to attach a strap to Wilson’s minivan when the white 2015 Hyundai Genesis Justin Thomas Flower was driving came speeding down Old U.S. Highway 441.

The Hyundai came straight at them, Dickey jumped out the way and the car struck Wilson first throwing him several feet, then struck the back end of Wilson’s minivan and finally Dickey’s truck, hitting it with such force, it spun around. All three vehicles were totaled.

“My truck did a 180 spin, turned the opposite way it was parked,” Dickey said. Dickey injured his finger and held the flashlight through the entire ordeal, including questioning by Mount Dora Police Department. The crash sheared the bulb and bulb cover right off the handle.

“It knocked it clean off. I came close to dying, real close to dying,” Dickey said, shaking his head, “He never hit his brakes, never hit his brakes.”

Dickey still has the flashlight and held it during his interview with Inside Lake.

Michael Dickey reenacts the morning of July 23, 2022 when he jumped out the way when Justin Flower hit Robert Wilson, killing him. Flower also hit Wilson’s minivan and Dickey’s truck. Dickey is seen here holding the same flashlight he held during the crash. PHOTO: Marilyn M. Aciego/Inside Lake

Flower kept driving and got about a half of a mile down the road, “I don’t know how he made it that far,” Dickey said.

“I started screaming at him, stop! Stop! Stop!”

An unidentified man in a Honda Civic stopped and Dickey told him to get behind Flower so he could not leave, and he did, Dickey said. A minute or so later, someone handed Dickey a phone and said, “It’s 9-1-1,” and the man in the Honda drove by and said, “We’re good” and left. “I found out later he never even called 9-1-1,” Dickey said.

Flower got out of the car and, “He was pacing around and around.” Two unidentified women stopped to help him, and he reportedly told them he was fine, and “There’s a bad accident down there you need to go the other way.” The women continued toward the crash site, Dickey said, and “suddenly he (Flower) was gone,” but he left the disabled Hyundai in the middle of the road.

The women stopped and helped Wilson and Dickey, and one woman removed her shirt, clad only in a bra, and wrapped it around Wilson’s head in attempt to help him and stop the bleeding, Dickey told Inside Lake.

Once MDPD arrived on scene Dickey said he felt like they treated him like a criminal. “I thought I was going to jail. They wouldn’t let me call my wife. I was furious.” He said he was interviewed by at least six MDPD officers. “My mouth was dry, I was exhausted. They wouldn’t even let me have a drink. “

Dickey was never interviewed again after the morning of the crash. “I called him (the crash investigator) three or four times and he never returned my call. Never would return an email.” Dickey said he called him two more times in the last few weeks and the investigator did not return those calls either.

Dickey still has a hard time understanding the crash, “How do you not react and hit the brakes?” Data from the vehicle later showed Flower was driving 42.87 miles per hour and never hit the brakes. The posted speed limit in that area is 35 miles per hour.

Wilson, 50, was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center after the crash, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy later determined Wilson died from a skull fracture and brain bleed caused by the crash.

Top left to right: Robert Wilson’s minivan, Michael Dickey’s truck and the car Justin Flower was driving when he crashed into Wilson and the two vehicles in July 2022. PHOTOS: Michael Dickey

According to a probable cause affidavit, MDPD contacted the registered owner of the Hyundai and she said she lent the car to Flower and Flower was at a home on Morningside Drive, less than a mile from the crash site. MDPD spoke with Flower, and he said he struck a dog that jumped into the roadway. He claimed to have no memory of the crash and woke up the following morning at the home on Morningside Drive wondering how he got there.

Dickey said he does not understand why Flower was not arrested right then, “How do you believe that lie?” he said.

During later questioning Flower admitted to drinking “a beer and a shot” prior to the crash, the affidavit states.

It took nearly three months for MDPD is issue a warrant for Flower for manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crash involving death. After the warrant was issued, he ran to Jackson County, North Carolina, Wilson’s daughter Emily Lowe told Inside Lake.

He was apprehended in North Carolina in late November extradited to Lake County Dec. 30, just one day before his 39th birthday after he spent more than a month in jail in North Carolina, according to Lake County Clerk of Court online records. He is being held in LCJ on no bond.

Justin Flower’s two mugshots. PHOTOS: Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (North Carolina) and Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Flower is scheduled to be arraigned Monday—exactly six months after the crash.

The pain is still raw for Lowe. She misses her dad tremendously and is angry he was taken from her.

“I can forgive but I can never forget,” she told Inside Lake.

Photo courtesy of Emily Lowe

Wilson was a well-known local musician, a friend, a son, Lowe said, but most importantly he was Dad to her and her three brothers and Pop Pop to his two grandsons and only granddaughter.  

“He was more than his music, more than a friend, He was a father and a grandfather. That’s who he was,” Lowe, 27, said. “My Dad was my absolute best friend, she said. “My rock, my safety net.”

Lowe rushed to ORMC when she found out what happened, and doctors told her he was brain dead and there was no chance at life. Lowe told Inside Lake she fell to the floor and begged him to wake up. But he never did. “This man (Flower) took my life from me in a way,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Emily Lowe

Lowe said her dad and Flower knew each other and she has received information they were both at Fat Cats, a nearby bar, the night of the crash. Flower was never tested for alcohol consumption by MDPD but did admit to drinking the night of the crash—doctors at ORMC told Lowe her father was not legally drunk, she said.

“He plowed my Dad,” Lowe said. “Justin Flower hit my Dad. He was brain dead on the scene.

Lowe said her dad was very musically gifted and a “great friend to all who knew him.” He was never a stranger to anyone and enjoyed a close with relationship with his granddaughter, 7. She misses him very much, Lowe said. Sometimes it is hard for Lowe to grieve her father, because she has to stay strong for her daughter and her grandmother.

“My grandma is not OK because she lost her son.”

Lowe said the whole ordeal has been terrible, but the added length of the investigation, lack of communication and Flower running has made things worse.  

“It’s been a nightmare to deal with. I just want justice for my Dad.”

Photo courtesy of Emily Lowe

Longtime Mount Dora Orthodontist Dead in Apparent Seminole County Murder-Suicide Earlier this Month

LONGWOOD, Florida—A longtime Mount Dora orthodontist apparrently killed his ex-wife and then himself in Seminole County earlier this month, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO.)

Around 4 p.m. Jan. 11, SCSO responded to the 2400 block of Jennifer Hope Boulevard in Jennifer Estates in unincorporated Longwood on a report of a shooting, Public Information Officer Bob Kealing said in a press release.

When deputies arrived, they found Sandra Herman, 79, injured in the front yard; she was taken to a local hospital where she died from her injuries. Witnesses told SCSO Herman was shot by an elderly man, later identified as her ex-husband, Gilbert Principe, 81. The witnesses said Principe might still be in the home and once deputies obtained a search warrant, they entered the home and found Principe dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to official records maintained by the Lake County Clerk of Court, the couple divorced in October 1995. Principe had an orthodontic office in Mount Dora for many years.

Suspect in Mount Dora Double Slayings Indicted by Grand Jury

TAVARES, Florida—The woman accused of stabbing an elderly couple to death and stealing their SUV in December has been indicted by a grand jury for the crimes, State Attorney Bill Gladson announced Wednesday.

Vickie Lynn Williams, 50, of Savannah, Georgia is accused of brutally stabbing Darryl Getman, 83, and Sharon Getman, 80, to death sometime between the hours of 11 p.m. Dec. 30 and 2 a.m. Dec. 31. The Getmans’ bodies were found by Mount Dora Police Department after they received two 9-1-1 calls, with one caller stating two people had been killed, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Numerous bloody footprints and shoe prints were found inside the home on Lake Margaret Circle and in the garage where they normally kept their green Kia Soul. Police say Williams killed the elderly couple and stole the Kia, travelling first to South Carolina and then to Savannah, where she was apprehended by a Savannah Police officer at an Amtrak station on Jan. 2. She was still in possession of the Kia when she was taken into custody, the affidavit states.

Darryl and Sharon Getman were found murdered in their home Dec. 31.

When Williams was questioned, she told investigators she was given the Kia by a friend named “Fuller Blue.” She said was walking in Savannah Dec. 31 when “Fuller Blue” approached her. She told him she was homeless, and he offered her the Kia, she said. She drove around for “a bit” and then parked the Kia at the train station where she stayed for several days, she told investigators.

At the time of her arrest Williams had no known connection to the Getmans or Mount Dora, MDPD Interim Police Chief Michael Gibson said earlier this month, Williams was extradited back to Lake County Jan. 6 and is being held in the Lake County Jail on no bond.

Williams is represented by John Spivey of the Lake County Public Defender’s Office.

State Attorney Creates Animal Cruelty Task Force

OCALA, Florida—In an effort to streamline delivering justice to those who hurt animals, State Attorney Bill Gladson has created an Animal Cruelty Task Force for the Fifth Judicial Circuit that includes Lake, Citrus, Hernando, Marion and Sumter counties, his office said in a press release last week.

The task force includes the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC,) county animal services, and local law enforcement agencies and the goal is for law enforcement, animal services and animal protection organizations to work together to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes throughout the circuit, according to the press release.

State Attorney Bill Gladson PHOTO: Florida Bar

“My office is committed to aggressively prosecuting animal cruelty cases, and I am grateful for the team which shares our commitment,” Gladson stated. “The reach of these crimes goes beyond harm to innocent animals; these criminals pose a risk to the entire community.”

Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, nearly 70 percent have criminal records.

Windchills in the 20s and 30s Expected this Weekend, Cold Weather Shelters Activated

LAKE COUNTY, Florida—For the second time in less than a month, Lake County is scheduled to open two cold weather shelter locations in anticipation of this weekend’s near-freezing temperatures.

Both locations open Friday; Trinity Assembly of God, 200 Urick Street, Fruitland Park will open at 5:30 p.m. and remain open through 7 a.m. each day, Friday through Sunday, and LifePointe Church, 3551 East Orange Avenue will be open 5 p.m. through 8 a.m. each day through Sunday, according to Lake County Emergency Management.

A warming shelter will also be open from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Salvation Army, 2605 South Street, Leesburg,  

Lake Xpress will provide free transportation to cold weather shelters for those who need assistance traveling to a shelter. Schedules are available on Lake Xpress’ website. Residents who do not have access to a Lake Xpress fixed route must call 352-742-2612 to arrange transportation.

Friday night, cold temperatures and breezy winds will bring windchills in the upper 20s to lower 30s. A Wind Chill Advisory has been issued for east Central Florida, according to the U.S. National Weather Service, Melbourne.

Mount Dora Couple Brutally Stabbed Multiple Times, Suspect Found at Savannah Amtrak Station, According to Probable Cause Affidavit

Publisher’s note: The following story contains graphic details. Reader discretion is advised.

MOUNT DORA, Florida—The Mount Dora couple found dead in their home in Waterman Village on New Year’s Eve was brutally stabbed and it was a gruesome and bloody scene, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Vickie Lynn Williams, 50, is accused of murdering Darryl Getman, 83, and his wife, Sharon, 80, sometime between the late hours of Dec. 30 and the early morning hours of Dec. 31. Williams was captured on video surveillance leaving Waterman Village property in the couple’s stolen green Kia Soul at 2:02 a.m. Dec. 31.

Darryl and Sharon Getman were found murdered in their home Dec. 31.

She was apprehended Jan. 2 in Savannah, Georgia, taken into custody and held in the Chatham County Jail in Georgia until she was extradited to Lake County Friday. Also, on Friday, Inside Lake uncovered video surveillance showing a woman who appears to be Williams interacting with Mount Dora Police officers at a local hotel on Dec. 30, just hours before the slayings.

On Dec. 31 just after 4 p.m., MDPD responded to two separate 9-1-1 calls and one caller stated two people had been killed, according to the affidavit. Officers arrived to find the garage door at 161 Lake Margaret Circle open and the couple’s SUV missing. Bloody shoe prints were observed on the garage floor and when officers enter the home, they found Sharon Getman in the entryway with a large amount of blood around her and several white towels, as if someone attempted to render aid or clean up, the detective noted in the affidavit. She suffered head trauma and lost a large amount of blood. Darryl Getman had severe head and facial trauma and a large butcher knife with a yellow handle was still in his abdomen when police found him; he also had defensive wounds.

Multiple knives were found around the kitchen area and numerous bloody footprints and shoe prints were found in the home and it appeared the suspect came out of her shoes during the attack, the detective noted. Crime scene investigators believed from the beginning there was only one attacker, and the attacker was female, due to the footprints that had a “very distinctive arch” the affidavit states.   

A broken money clip with no cash was found on the center island in the kitchen, along with several credit cards. Sharon Getman’s wallet was found but her purse and cell phone were missing; the Getmans’ son told police his mother usually left her purse and phone in the Kia Soul, according to the affidavit.

“It appears the suspect attempted to clean up in the guest bathroom because there was a wet white and green in color washcloth with bloodstains and what appeared to be black, tight, curly hairs,” the detective noted in the affidavit.

Police viewed surveillance video from Waterman Village and an MDPD officer believed the suspect to be a local woman with an extensive criminal history.  A BOLO (be on the lookout) was issued for the local woman, but when her photo was shown to several Waterman Village residents, no one picked her out of the lineup. Inside Lake is not naming the woman because she has not been charged in this case.

PHOTO: Marilyn M. Aciego/Inside Lake

The stolen Kia was picked up on license plate readers in Greenville, South Carolina and Hardeeville, South Carolina around 4:30 p.m. Dec. 31 and on Jan. 1 at around 6:45 p.m. a license plate reader hit on the Kia in Savannah, Georgia and again at 7:36 p.m., according to the affidavit.

An MDPD detective put a ping on Sharon Getman’s phone, and it pinged in several locations in Savannah. On Jan. 2, a Savannah Police officer located Williams and the Kia parked in a parking lot at an Amtrak station and she was taken into custody for grand theft auto without incident, the affidavit states.

A Savannah Police crime scene investigator processed and sealed the Kia and she found Sharon Getman’s purse, a coffee cup with what appeared to be a bloodstain and a similar stain on the outside of the vehicle; that stain contained a single strand of hair, the detective noted. A pair of white Puma slides, similar to the shoes Williams was wearing in surveillance video were found inside the Kia.  

Two MDPD detectives and two Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agents traveled to Savannah to interview Williams on Jan. 3. She told investigators her name was “Victoreyah Coffee,” one of several aliases Williams has used in the past. Williams’ ex-husband’s last name is Coffee.  

Williams told the special agents and detectives she was homeless and living out of a car and she was curious as to why Florida law enforcement officers were in Georgia. An FDLE special agent told her they were investigating the stolen vehicle she was located in.

Williams was read her rights and waived them and demanded a Georgia detective be present during the interview because she wanted everything “straight” between Georgia and Florida, the affidavit states.

Williams told investigators she was given the Kia by a friend named “Fuller Blue.” She said was walking in Savannah Dec. 31 when “Fuller Blue” approached her. She told him she was homeless, and he offered her the Kia, she said. She drove around for “a bit” and then parked the Kia at the train station where she stayed for several days, she told investigators.

She said in the interview, the two purses in the car belonged to her, along with the phone. She later changed her story and said her phone had been stolen on Dec. 29 or Dec. 30 and denied being in Florida or South Carolina. She was shown video surveillance from Waterman Village and said the shoes in the video looked like hers, “but lots of people have those shoes.”

Numerous items were taken for evidence, including jewelry, undergarments, clothing, a pink wig, tweezers, a watch and numerous DNA swabs.

Vickie Lynn Williams PHOTO: Chatham County Sheriff’s Office

Florida investigators requested a Canton, Ohio police sergeant contact Williams’ mother and son, who live in Canton, and they both identified Williams as the woman in the Waterman Village surveillance video and as the woman in custody in Savannah.

On Friday, an FDLE agent received a latent fingerprint report, and it identified a palm impression recovered from the Getman’s dryer as belonging to Williams; positively identifying her as being inside the couple’s home, the MDPD detective noted. Williams was extradited back to the Florida the same day and late that evening two charges of first-degree murder were added.

She made her first appearance in Lake County court Saturday, and she was ordered held without bond and appointed a public defender.  

Mount Dora Murder Suspect in Court Saturday Morning, Judge Appoints Public Defender

TAVARES, Florida—The woman accused of brutally murdering an elderly Mount Dora couple who was found dead in their home Dec. 31 made her first appearance in court Saturday morning, a week after the bodies were found.

Vickie Lynn Williams, 50, was soft-spoken as she answered Lake County Judge Emily Curington’s questions Saturday. Williams is facing two first-degree murder charges and a grand theft auto charge after being accused of killing Darryl and Sharon Getman in their home in Waterman Village and stealing their green Kia Soul. Williams was apprehended in Savannah, Georgia Monday and extradited to Lake County Friday.

Curington appointed Williams a public defender and scheduled her next court date for Jan. 30. Williams is being held without bond in the Lake County Jail. She was originally arrested just for grand theft auto, and two first-degree murder charges were added late Friday night; Inside Lake was the first media organization to report the added charges.

Inside Lake was the only media organization to discover Mount Dora Police officers interacted with a woman believed to be Williams at a Mount Dora hotel just hours before the murder.

Darryl and Sharon Getman were found murdered in their home Dec. 31.

BREAKING NEWS: Person of Interest in Mount Dora Slayings Now Facing Murder Charges

TAVARES, Florida—Vickie Lynn Williams, the person of interest in the brutal slayings of an elderly Mount Dora couple is now facing murder charges.

Williams, 50, stands accused of killing Darryl Getman, 83, and Sharon Getman, 80, in their home in Mount Dora sometime between the late hours of Dec. 30 and the early morning hours of Dec. 31. Williams is suspected of killing the couple and fleeing in their Kia Soul just after 2 a.m. Dec. 31.

An alert was issued for the lime green SUV, and she was apprehended in Savannah, Georgia on Monday with the Getman’s vehicle and taken into custody. She was held at the Chatham County Jail in Georgia until she was extradited back to Lake County on Friday.

Vickie Lynn Williams PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

When she was booked into LCJ, she was only facing a grand theft auto charge, but Inside Lake was tipped off that two charges of first-degree murder were added late Friday night. Inside Lake confirmed the charges with Lake County Sheriff’s Office online booking information.

On Friday, only Inside Lake released a video that appears to show Williams interacting with Mount Dora Police officers at Hampton Inn, 19700 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora on Dec. 30, just hours before she is accused of killing the pair.

Williams’ first appearance is scheduled for Saturday morning.

Darryl and Sharon Getman were found murdered in their home Saturday.
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