Umatilla

Third Annual Back the Blue Walk Scheduled for Saturday

TAVARES, Florida—Hundreds of people are expected to attend the third annual Lake County Backs the Blue Walk scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Tavares’ Wooton Park.

In its third year, the walk began in 2019 to show support for law enforcement during a time when the “defund the police” movement was making its way across the country, event organizer Shannon Cook told Inside Lake. Representatives from several law enforcement agencies and numerous public officials are expected to be in attendance.

“The good ones needed to know they were appreciated,” Cook said.

Cook has always had respect for law enforcement officers and the job they do, she said. She grew up and was close friends with Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Wayne Koester who was killed in the line of duty Feb. 9, 2005. Koester, who was 33 at the time, and two other deputies were ambushed while responding to a domestic violence call. All three deputies were shot, and Koester succumbed to his injuries; the other two deputies recovered. Jason Wheeler was shot and paralyzed during his capture and convicted in Koester’s death.

PHOTO: Bonnie Whicher/Inside Lake

Cook was also close to Chris Daniels, who was serving as Lake County Sheriff when he was tragically killed in a charity bus race in 2006.

“Almost the entire time my son played baseball; Chris Daniels was his coach.” Cook said.

Cook told Inside Lake it is important the community show its support for all of the good officers and those who were lost in the line of duty. She is hoping for a large turnout Saturday, last year’s efforts were hampered by unusually cold weather and it was held Easter weekend.

Saturday’s walk is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at Wooton Park, 100 E. Ruby Street; donuts and coffee are being provided by Ralph Smith of Lake Tire & Auto before the event. Walkers will travel down Ruby Street to LCSO and then onto the Tavares Public Safety Complex before returning to Wooten Park for a hot dog lunch provided by Pamela O’Donnell and Vic Donahey of Vic’s Embers Catering.

Cook suggests participants use street parking in downtown Tavares, or park in the Tavares Parking Garage, 200 North Sinclair Avenue.

Naked Stroll through Umatilla Lands Man in Jail

UMATILLA, Florida—A nice leisurely naked stroll through Umatilla resulted in a trip to jail for a Fort Lauderdale man Thursday night.

Stephen Robert Fauteux, 47, was arrested when he was found standing naked in front of Umatilla Police Department around 6: 10 p.m. Thursday. An officer was responding to a naked man walking in the area of State Road 19 and Golden Gem drive and as he left the department to respond, he was flagged down by two off-duty Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies who said the man was standing out front, according to an arrest affidavit.

The officer went to the front and found Fauteux completely nude; he told the officer he left his clothes in a gazebo off State Road 19 and he “liked walking around naked,” the affidavit states. An officer retrieved his belongings from the gazebo, and he was arrested for exposure of sexual organs and transported to the Lake County Jail, where he is being held on $1,000 bond.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Sorrento Woman Killed in Eustis Motorcycle Crash

EUSTIS, Florida—A weekend that saw many motorcycles on the roads, especially in Eustis and Leesburg ended tragically Sunday afternoon with the death of a 28-year-old Sorrento woman.

Rebekah Jo Towner was the passenger on 2006 Harley Davidson being ridden by 64-year-old Edgar Wesley Tello, of Umatilla, northbound on Grove Street, when he struck a construction sign near Pendleton Avenue, a Eustis Police spokesperson told Inside Lake—the only media on the scene.

The impact threw Tello and Towner from the motorcycle and she slid with the motorcycle more than 100 feet, coming to rest at a fence in front of a home. Towner was pronounced dead on the scene, EPD said.

A witness who asked not to be named, heard and witnessed the 4:40 p.m. crash, “I heard a squeal, like it hit the curb and then there were two booms,” he said. “He was going faster than 30 (mile pers hour.”)

A Eustis Police traffic homicide investigator is seen investigating a fatal motorcycle crash near a mangled sign Sunday afternoon. A Sorrento woman was killed.
PHOTO: Inside Lake

The speed limit in that area is 30 miles per hour and there is an electronic speed monitor reminding motorists of their speed and to slow down.

Tello was airlifted to a local hospital and is in serious condition. The crash closed two blocks of North Grove Street for several hours and traffic was diverted to North Eustis Street. It is unclear if either one was wearing a helmet, police said.

The crash comes at the conclusion of two popular events that were held over the weekend, Eustis Music Fest and Leesburg Bikefest. It is unknown where the pair were coming from and the crash remains under investigation.

Free Sealing and Expungement Clinic Scheduled for Saturday

TAVARES, Florida—Lake County residents with minor criminal histories have a unique opportunity to quickly and efficiently expunge or seal their record Saturday if they qualify, at the first-ever Sealing and Expungement clinic offered here.

Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida is teaming up with the Lake County Bar Association and Lake Young Lawyers Division to offer this free 4-hour clinic scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Lake County Courthouse, 550 West Main Street, Tavares. Lawyers and representatives from numerous government agencies will be on hand to help participants navigate through the process, which often can be difficult to do on their own or expensive to hire a private attorney, said Taylor Tremel, an attorney who will be available on-site Saturday, to help. Lake County Clerk of Court Gary Cooney is waiving certain fees and providing the space for the clinic, Tremel said.

Tremel, who has served as an assistant state attorney and a public defender, is now in private practice with the firm Bowen & Schroth in Eustis and is enthusiastic about being a part of this program. “We saw that there was a need, and I thought it was a worthwhile thing to take on” he told Inside Lake.

“This brings everybody together under one roof to help and answer questions. It’s not very often all these groups get together to do something like this,” Tremel said.

Many crimes are not eligible to be sealed or expunged, including violent offenses, Tremel said. If a person was adjudicated guilty for a crime, they are not eligible either.

Participants’ criminal case must have occurred in Lake County to partake in the event and are asked to pre-register at Clinic Screening (legalserver.org) and those who do, may qualify for assistance with the $75 Florida Department of Law Enforcement application fee. Tremel said participants should not overstate their income or overrepresent how much money they have in the bank.

Tremel is hoping for a large turnout Saturday, “It’s a really awesome event,” he said. “I think it’s something that can be done annually.”

Umatilla Man Accused of $20K Theft from Electrical Substation

UMATILLA, Florida—A Umatilla man who was already in the Lake County Jail on theft charges was served with another warrant accusing him of stealing $20,000 worth of copper materials from Duke Energy and then selling them to a recycling plant, according to an arrest affidavit.

Luchious Myron Clayton, 64, of Umatilla, was arrested April 2 at his home on a warrant accusing of him of burglary and grand theft—and the victim was his cousin. In that case, the victim, Clayton’s cousin, left for work on March 28, and got an alert from his home surveillance system. He began watching the live feed and observed Clayton in his home going through a dresser drawer and in his living room. He then exited the residence. The victim, who is also Clayton’s neighbor, returned home and found $130 missing, according to a Lake County Sheriff’s Office probable cause affidavit.

Clayton was picked up on the warrant on April 2 and was being held on $12,000 bond. While he was jail, LCSO served him with another warrant Monday, accusing him of the theft from Duke Energy.

PHOTO: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Om March 21, LCSO responded to a Duke Energy substation on Mills Street in Umatilla and a Duke employee told a deputy that “Luchious” rides his bicycle near the substation and cut the 6-foot barbed wire and chain link fence, causing about $1,500 in damage to the fence. He said Clayton stole copper material and copper connection materials, valued at around $20,000.

The employee went to a recycling plant, located just a mile from the substation and spoke with the owner, he said, a black male by the name of “Luchious” had been selling him copper wire and provided LCSO with a copy of Clayton’s Florida Identification card. The owner and his wife said Clayton visits frequently and they have refused to buy non-insulated wire from him in the past.

Clayton was questioned at LCJ and told LCSO he committed the theft by himself; he is facing charges of burglary, grand theft and dealing in stolen property, in addition to the charges he is facing in his cousin’s case. Clayton is being held at the Lake County Jail on $27,000 bond.

Man Flees Eustis Traffic Stop, Crashes

EUSTIS, Florida—A man accused of fleeing a traffic stop did not get very far when he crashed the vehicle, he was driving just a few blocks later, according to an arrest affidavit.

Eustis Police attempted to stop 2005 silver Honda without a front or rear bumper for running a stop sign at Park Avenue and Eustis Street shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday. The car, being driven by Erin Tryon Dobson, 18, accelerated and fled the area when an EPD officer activated his lights and sirens, running several stop signs. The officer then terminated the stop, due to department policy, the affidavit states.

A short time later, a crash was reported at Bay Street and Pendleton Avenue and the same officer responded and found it was the vehicle that had just fled from him in the same area. Dobson, of Umatilla, was on scene when EPD arrived and admitted he was driving the car and apologized for fleeing because he did not have insurance, according to the affidavit.

A witness told EPD she saw three black males exit the car and two of them took off on foot behind an apartment complex nearby; Dobson said one of the males was his cousin, but he did not know the other male’s name.

Dobson was arrested for fleeing and eluding and reckless driving. He was transported to the Lake County Jail, where he was released on $10,500 bond.

Women Arrested for Burglary After Being Found Naked In Homeowner’s Bathtub

UMATILLA, Florida—A Umatilla woman was arrested by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office after being found naked in a whirlpool tub by the owner of the home around 1:15 a.m. Tuesday.

The victim told LCSO she awoke to find lights on in her kitchen and heard her whirlpool tub running at her home on Lake Smith Road in unincorporated Umatilla early Tuesday morning. She opened the door to her bathroom and found Amanda Nicole Toler, 32, naked, inside her bathtub. The victim asked Toler who she was and what she was doing and she reportedly said, “I’m Amanda, I have nowhere else to go. You can call the cops.”

The victim left the naked Toler in the bathroom and did just that, according to the affidavit. When LCSO arrived, Toler was still in the tub bathing and told a deputy, “I’m waiting to die,” the affidavit states. Toler said she knocked and entered the home through a window when she did not get an answer and had recently taken cocaine, but she did not how much. She did not know the homeowners, she told LCSO.

Toler was taken into custody and arrested for burglary of an occupied dwelling. She was transported to the Lake County Jail, where she is being held on $15,000 bond. Toler has been arrested four times in Lake County since 2020 for drug possession, battery and failure to appear, according to LCSO online records. 

Man Out On Bond For Child Molestation Arrested After Firing Two Shots Near Woman Who Did Not Want Him Around Her Daughter

UMATILLA, Florida—A man out on bond for molesting a 5-year-old girl in 2020, was arrested Saturday after firing two shots near a woman who did not want him around her daughter, according to an arrest affidavit.

Around 9 p.m. Saturday, Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the Tropical Whisper mobile home park in unincorporated Umatilla in reference to a battery. The victim told LCSO she went to her neighbor’s house to retrieve her daughter, who was with Joshua “Boops” Leon Redmond Dudley, 28, and his girlfriend. Dudley is facing several sex-related charges involving a minor;  the victim’s daughter’s age is not listed in the affidavit.

The woman said Dudley began arguing with her and grabbed her by the hair and threw her down, the affidavit states. Dudley then pulled out a gun and the victim yelled at him to let her go. Dudley fired a shot into the air, while holding the victim down and then fired a second shot next to her head. The victim begged Dudley not to kill her because of her daughter and he reportedly said, “You should have thought about that first.”

Dudley then let her go and fled the area and was later apprehended near the now-defunct Pine Meadows Golf Course. He was arrested on two counts of aggravated battery with a weapon, discharging a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm.  The arresting deputy requested Dudley be held on no bond due to his unresolved lewd and lascivious molestation case.

In that case, Dudley was arrested after a woman called Leesburg Police on Aug. 25, 2020, and said LPD needed to respond quickly before she killed Dudley. The witness told police Dudley molested a young girl and she did not understand why he would do that. Police questioned Dudley who reportedly uttered, “Man I (expletive) up and going away for a long time I shouldn’t have done that,” and then said, “I don’t know why I did that there is something wrong with me,” the affidavit in that case states.

Dudley told police the victim — who was only 5 years old — began talking “sexual” to him and asked him to go to the laundry room with him.  A sex act took place in the laundry room for about five minutes until the witness entered the room, according to the affidavit.  

Dudley’s next court appearance in that case is scheduled for March 29.

Teen Arrested For Throwing Brick Through Vehicle Window At Umatilla Police Department

UMATILLA, Florida—A Umatilla High School was student was arrested last week for throwing a brick through the window of a police officer’s personal vehicle In January.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Umatilla Police responded to the area of Kentucky Avenue and Mitchner Street in reference to a subject matching the description of a retail theft suspect on Jan. 21.

Police approached a juvenile who matched the description of the thief, and he told the officer he stole a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from a Umatilla convenience store because he wanted to go to jail. The store refused to prosecute, and the 17-year-old was turned over to his father, the affidavit states. It is unclear what time that incident occurred. Inside Lake is not naming the juvenile, due to his age.

At 3 a.m. a police officer found a brick had been thrown through the rear window of his personal vehicle, causing more than $1,500 in damage and video surveillance from UPD’s parking lot showed the teen committing the crime. He was interviewed by UPD, and he admitted he threw the brick because he was “angry and wanted to go to jail,” and he thought the vehicle belonged to a police officer, the affidavit states.

He was taken into custody at Umatilla High School by the school resource deputy on a juvenile pickup order Feb. 22 for criminal mischief more than $1,000 and turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Domino’s and Delivery Driver In 2020 Death Of Pedestrian

TAVARES, Florida—A lawsuit has been filed in the death of a pedestrian who was killed while walking with her boyfriend down State Road 19 in Umatilla in 2020.

Rebecca “Becky” Lynn Carpenter, 39, was walking northbound along the shoulder of State Road 19 on the south end of Umatilla near the Dollar General that had recently opened with her boyfriend, Russell “Rusty” Gibbons, when she was struck by a sedan, also traveling northbound around 8 p.m. May 30, 2020.  The sedan was being driven by Frederick Martin Cole, of Eustis who was 29 and working for Domino’s, 1936 North State Road 19, Eustis at the time of the crash. Carpenter was pronounced dead on the scene; Gibbons was not hit, the Florida Highway Patrol said in 2020.  

The vehicle that struck Rebecca “Becky” Carpenter in 2020. Courtesy photo

According to the lawsuit filed in Lake County Circuit Court against Cole and ASR Pizza Inc. dba Domino’s Pizza LLC on Monday, Cole was “negligent and careless in the operation of his motor vehicle as to collide with Rebecca Carpenter, a pedestrian. As a direct and proximate result of the negligence of the defendant Frederick Martin Cole, the decedent, Rebecca Carpenter suffered serious and permanent injuries which led to her death.”

The suit, filed on behalf of Carpenter’s minor daughter, states ASR Pizza Inc. dba Domino’s Pizza LLC is vicariously liable for Cole’s actions. The plaintiff, who is represented by George Anderson III of Dan Newlin Injury Attorneys, is seeking more than $30,000 in damages.    

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