Inside Scoop

Vehicle believed to be involved in Leesburg murder found, detectives actively working the case

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department has located a vehicle believed to be involved in the murder of a 20-year-old man Monday.

James Jordan was found lying in the yard of a home in the 2200 block of Aitken Loop in Overlook at Lake Griffin around 2:30 p.m. Monday suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to UF Health Leesburg, where he died from his injuries, LPD Sgt. Shannon Walsh said.

LPD located and seized the vehicle believed to be involved, and executed search warrants on the vehicle and the location it was recovered from, Walsh said. LPD has not released the location, or the make and model of the vehicle.

“Several items of evidentiary value were recovered,” Walsh said in an email. “Detectives continue to work on this case actively.”

If you have information on Jordan’s death, call LPD at 352-787-2121 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS; Crimeline callers may be eligible for a reward.

Previous story: Man dies after being found with multiple gunshot wounds in Leesburg yard – Inside Lake

Vehicle believed to be involved in Leesburg murder found, detectives actively working the case Read More »

Man dies after being found with multiple gunshot wounds in Leesburg yard

LEESBURG, Fla.—Leesburg Police Department is investigating after a 20-year-old man was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds Monday afternoon.

LPD responded to Aitkin Loop in Overlook at Lake Griffin around 2:30 p.m. Monday in reference to a shooting and found James Jordan in the front yard of a home in the 2200 block, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, LPD Sgt. Shannon Walsh said.

Officers rendered aid to Jordan until EMS and Leesburg Fire Department arrived and Jordan was transported to UF Health Leesburg, where he succumbed to his injuries.

LPD set up a perimeter and utilized a K9 unit and LPD detectives and CSI responded to the scene, Walsh said.

If you have information on Jordan’s death, call LPD at 352-787-2121 or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS; Crimeline callers may be eligible for a reward.

This is LPD’s second homicide in just over a month. On May 30, Raied “Ray” Shihadeh, 51, was shot and killed at Fast Stop Superette, 3702 Picciola Road, on May 30 during an armed robbery of the store. Alex Lopez was arrested for the crime late last month and is being held on no bond at the Lake County Jail.

Man dies after being found with multiple gunshot wounds in Leesburg yard Read More »

Father of young girl found dead in Montverde last month arrested on unrelated charges

TAVARES, Fla.—The father of a young girl found dead in Montverde last month was arrested last week on unrelated charges out of Polk County, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.

Lojuan Jamario Sessions, 26, father of 9-year-old Jamaria Sessions, was picked up at his job in Eustis Wednesday by Eustis Police Department on two warrants for violating probation, stemming from a 2019 Polk County case.

In January 2019, Sessions was accused of fleeing from a Haines City Police Department officer after the officer found a bag of drugs, later determined to be amphetamine, in plain view in the vehicle Sessions was driving during a traffic stop, according to an arrest affidavit.

The officer put the bag of suspected drugs on the roof of Sessions’ vehicle, and asked Sessions to step out. Sessions put the vehicle in drive, took off, struck a vehicle being driven by an undercover Polk County deputy and then crashed into a palm tree. Sessions’ current girlfriend was in the passenger seat with a small unrestrained child in her lap, and three young girls were in the back seat—not wearing seatbelts.

Sessions was arrested for four counts of child neglect, possession of amphetamine with intent to sell, trafficking in amphetamine, possession of a vehicle while trafficking drugs, possession of marijuana, fleeing a law enforcement officer a at high speed, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a suspended license.

He later pleaded guilty, according to Polk County Clerk of Court records, and was sentenced to five years in prison followed by five years of probation. He is accused of violating his probation, but details of the violations were not available Monday evening.

Sessions was released from prison in August 2023, and according to Jamaria’s uncle, Joseph Robinson, Jamaria and her younger sister, 5, had been living with their father since October 2023. Before that, the sisters were living with their grandmother, Althea Chenault, following the death of their mother, Tadrina Dort. Dort died from congestive heart failure in 2022 after beating leukemia; she was just 24 years old.

Jamaria Sessions. Photo courtesy of Joseph Robinson and Althea Chenault

The girls began living with Sessions after he picked them up from school without Chenault’s knowledge or consent in October 2023 and they lived with him until Jamaria’s death on June 17. Jamaria’s 5-year-old sister, who Inside Lake is not naming, is staying with another family member.

No arrests have been made in Jamaria’s death and LCSO has released few details, only calling her death a “homicide investigation.”

“The death investigation is being treated as a homicide until the results are retrieved from the autopsy by the Medical Examiner’s office,” LCSO Cpl. Chanel Martin told Inside Lake last month.  “When the cause and manner are returned explaining the death, a determination will be made on proceeding forward.”

LCSO online records show Sessions was released from the Lake County Jail Monday and Martin told Inside Lake he was turned over to Polk County Sheriff’s Office. At press time, Sessions had not been booked into the Polk County Jail.

Previous stories: Death of 9-year-old girl being treated as a homicide investigation, maternal family says – Inside Lake

Child found deceased at Montverde home, Medical Examiner to determine cause of death – Inside Lake

Father of young girl found dead in Montverde last month arrested on unrelated charges Read More »

Medical examiner: Self-inflicted gunshot killed Altoona man found in burning home Saturday

ALTOONA, Fla.—The man found dead in his burning home Saturday took his own life, according to the medical examiner, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Michael Gall, 49, was found dead in his home at 20332 Wood Duck Road in Altoona around 1 p.m. Saturday, LCSO Lt. John Herrell said. LCSO and Lake County Fire responded to the home after reports it was on fire and LCFR found Gall dead in the home.

The medical examiner performed an autopsy Sunday and preliminary findings showed Gall died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Herrell.

If you are struggling or having suicidal thoughts, help is available by calling the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 on your cell phone. Local counseling is also available, visit MIKE Endowment | Mental Health | Suicide | Awareness | Lake County | FL (themikeendowment.org).

Previous story: Man found dead in burning Altoona home Saturday – Inside Lake

Medical examiner: Self-inflicted gunshot killed Altoona man found in burning home Saturday Read More »

Man found dead in burning Altoona home Saturday

ALTOONA, Fla.—The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after a man was found dead in a burning home Saturday afternoon.

LCSO and Lake County Fire Rescue responded to 20332 Wood Duck Road, Altoona around 1 p.m. on reports the home was on fire. LCFR removed a deceased male from the home, and authorities found he had an apparent gunshot wound, according to LCSO Lt. John Herrell.

The man, identified as Michael Gall, 49, lived at the home and detectives are conducting a death investigation, Herrell said; no other information was released.

Man found dead in burning Altoona home Saturday Read More »

Lady Lake police investigating after man found dead in golf cart Sunday night

LADY LAKE, Fla.—Lady Lake Police Department is investigating after a man was found dead in a golf cart Sunday night.

The 59-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was found after LLPD responded to 1 LaGrande Boulevard and found him unresponsive around 10 p.m. Sunday.

“There were no signs of foul play, however the cause of death is unknown. Police do not believe there is any cause for alarm to the community,” Town of Lady Lake Spokesperson Elisha Pappacoda said in an email.

If you have any information on the man’s death, call LLPD at 352-751-1565.

Lady Lake police investigating after man found dead in golf cart Sunday night Read More »

Astatula man killed Friday morning after rear-ending dump truck in Orange County

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.—A 30-year-old Astatula man was killed before daybreak Friday morning after he rear-ended a dump truck near Zellwood, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m., the Astatula man was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado westbound on Jones Avenue near Jewel Foliage Road when he entered the eastbound lane, traveling above the posted speed limit, to pass another vehicle, FHP said.

He reentered the westbound lane, failed to slow down and rear-ended a 1985 dump truck being driven by a 38-year-old Eustis man. The Astatula man was transported to AdventHealth Apopka and pronounced deceased; the Eustis man was not injured.

Astatula man killed Friday morning after rear-ending dump truck in Orange County Read More »

Accused murderer back in Lake County

TAVARES, Fla.—The man police believe is responsible for the murder of a Leesburg store owner was booked into the Lake County Jail Friday morning.

Alex Lopez, 25, is facing charges of premeditated murder, armed robbery and two other weapons offenses, and is being held on no bond.

Lopez was on the run for nearly a month, while Leesburg Police Department worked with state, federal and local agencies to track him down and finally located him at a motel in Kissimmee around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Leesburg Police Department Sgt. Shannon Walsh said. He was taken into custody by the FDLE/Orlando – Violent Crime Task Force.

“We located him using collaborative investigative measures,” Walsh told Inside Lake.

Lopez is accused of gunning down father of five, Raied “Ray” Shihadeh, 51, at Fast Stop Superette, 3702 Picciola Road, on May 30 during an armed robbery of the store. LPD will not confirm how much money was taken in the robbery, but a post created by Shihadeh’s wife, Monique, on a fundraising platform states it was less than $100. In the same post, Monique also stated her husband was killed on their daughter’s 16th birthday, making an already tragic situation much more heartbreaking.

Raied “Ray” Shihadeh. Photo courtesy of Monique Shihadeh

Inside Lake spoke with Monique by text Thursday and she said, “Our family is happy about his capture. We are preparing for this continuous and long journey that we will be on but praying for strength.”

Monique posted about her husband in numerous Facebook groups throughout the last few weeks asking for help locating Lopez and informing the public of a reward offered by Crimeline, in addition to money raised and added to the reward by her family.

Lopez grew up in Eustis and Sorrento, several sources have told Inside Lake. His next court date is scheduled for July 22.

Previous story: Leesburg murder suspect captured in Kissimmee – Inside Lake

Photos courtesy of Monique Shihadeh

Accused murderer back in Lake County Read More »

Leesburg murder suspect captured in Kissimmee

LEESBURG, Fla.—The man accused of gunning down a Leesburg store owner late last month is in custody, according to Leesburg Police Department.

Alex Lopez, 25, of Wildwood, was captured in Kissimmee by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Violent Crimes Task Force, LPD Sgt. Shannon Walsh said.

On the run for nearly a month, Lopez is accused of killing Raied Shihadeh, 51, at Fast Stop Superette, 3702 Picciola Road, on May 30 and fleeing the scene. Shihadeh was airlifted to HCA Florida Ocala Hospital, where he died from his injuries, Walsh said last month.

Lopez is facing charges of premeditated murder, armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and using a firearm during a felony.

Previous stories: Leesburg police identify murder suspect, need public’s help finding him – Inside Lake

Leesburg robbery and shooting victim dies overnight, suspect on the run – Inside Lake

VIDEO: Leesburg Police release surveillance video of store robbery – Inside Lake

One shot in robbery at Leesburg store Thursday night, Leesburg Police searching for suspect – Inside Lake

Leesburg murder suspect captured in Kissimmee Read More »

Umatilla man pleads no contest to ’22 DUI manslaughter crash that killed Sorrento woman, sentenced to more than 11 years in prison

TAVARES, Fla.—A man accused of operating his motorcycle drunk and killing a woman riding on the back in April 2022 has pleaded no contest to DUI manslaughter and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.

Edgar Wesley Tello, 66, of Umatilla, has been in the Lake County Jail since his arrest in February 2023, nearly a year after the crash that killed Rebekah Jo Towner less than two weeks after her 28th birthday.

On April 24, 2022, Towner, of Sorrento, was a passenger on 2006 Harley Davidson being controlled by Tello, northbound on Grove Street in Eustis, when he struck a curb, rode on the grass and then struck a construction sign near Pendleton Avenue, causing the motorcycle to slide on its left side. The motorcycle tires then struck the curb again and it flipped to its right side.

Rebekah Jo Towner was killed in a motorcycle crash in April 2022. Edgar Tello pleaded no contest to DUI manslaughter and was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison earlier this month. PHOTO: Towner Family

Police believe Towner’s head struck the sign, and the impact ejected her and Tello off the bike. The motorcycle slid nearly 200 feet before coming to its final resting place with Tello next to it, suffering head and neck injuries. Towner struck a guardrail in front of a home on Grove Street, causing blunt force trauma to her head, which resulted in her death. Medical records showed Towner was also drunk and had several controlled substances in her system.

Tello, was airlifted to an area hospital due to injuries, but was well enough to be interviewed the next day. He told a Eustis Police Department traffic homicide investigator he was in a motorcycle show during Leesburg’s Bikefest, the day of the crash, where he had one beer. After the show he went to a Tavares restaurant where he met Towner, and they had drinks together. They left Tavares and traveled to a downtown Eustis restaurant just a half of a mile from the crash scene and had more beer. Tello could not remember how much beer they had at either restaurant, according to the affidavit.

A manager at the Tavares restaurant later told police Tello and Towner met at her restaurant and, “it was obvious they did not know each other,” the affidavit states. The manager said the pair had two drinks and then they were asked to leave.

At the Eustis restaurant, a manager told police Tello and Towner were at the establishment about an hour and shared a pitcher of beer. Tello started getting aggressive with staff, paid the bill and surveillance video showed Tello left on his bike with Towner on the back.

Less than half a mile later, Tello would crash the motorcycle, leaving Towner dead. A witness told Inside Lake the day of the crash, “I heard a squeal, like it hit the curb and then there were two booms,” he said. “He (Tello) was going faster than 30 (miles per hour.)” The posted 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.

A Eustis Police Department traffic homicide investigator is seen here collecting evidence near a mangled sign following a fatal motorcycle crash April 24, 2022. Rebekah Jo Towner was killed in the crash.
PHOTO: Marilyn M. Aciego/Inside Lake

Tello originally pleaded not guilty to DUI manslaughter but changed his plea to “no contest” earlier this month. In addition to 135 months in prison, Tello will lose his driver license for life and will serve one year of probation following his release from state prison.

Previous stories: Umatilla Man Arrested for DUI Manslaughter in Death of Sorrento Woman Last Year – Inside Lake

Sorrento Woman Killed in Eustis Motorcycle Crash – Inside Lake

Umatilla man pleads no contest to ’22 DUI manslaughter crash that killed Sorrento woman, sentenced to more than 11 years in prison Read More »

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