BRADENTON, Florida — Man’s best friend deserves better than this.
GAINESVILLE, Florida — A 75-year-old woman who ran a cult-like religious boarding school has been charged in the death of a toddler three decades ago and investigators believe there may be “many, many” more victims.
Anna Elizabeth Young ran the House of Prayer for All People near Micanopy from about 1985 to 1995, authorities said. She was arrested in Atlanta last week on charges that she tortured and withheld food from Emon Harper, who was 2- or 3-years-old when he died in the late 1980s.
Art Forgey, a spokesman for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, told the Gainesville Sun that investigators believe that Young — who was called “Mother Anna” — may have abused numerous children over the years in multiple states.
“We think there are many, many more. We can document other states and other missing children that we believe are tied into this,” Forgey said. “They ran a religious institution — exorcising demons and other things like that. We have documentation involving her clear back the ’60s. We did extensive forensic examination on the property this summer. We are still analyzing the evidence that we gathered.”
He said investigators had recently received new information regarding Harper’s death which led them to reopen the case and uncover new evidence which resulted in the charge of first-degree murder against Young.
“Witnesses came forward from the House of Prayer alleging brutality and even some children being murdered,” Forgey told WCJB-TV last week. “It’s not just one isolated incident of beatings. There were numerous children that were beaten, locked in solitary confinement, food-withheld.”
He said other attendees of the school — who are in their 40s and 50s now — are cooperating wth authorities.
In 1992, Young was charged with child abuse stemming from an incident in which a 12-year-old
girl suffered severe burns after being dunked in a steel tub filled with chemicals. Young went on the lam and was finally arrested eight years later in the attic of a relative in Illinois. She was convicted in 2001 and served time in jail.
Young had bought the Florida property in 1985 with her husband Jonah Young. He died in 1988 while reportedly working on a truck which slipped off its jack and crushed him.
JACKSONVILLE, Florida — An undercover police officer taunted a baby-faced gunman who shot him, holding up a tube of lubricant and saying “you are going to need a lot of this,” as he was sentenced to life in prison.
Kevin Rojas, 21, was convicted of first-degree attempted murder in the March 2016 incident in which he fired through the windshield of the cop’s car, striking the officer three times, including once in the face, and narrowly missing his young son.
The gun play began after Rojas fought with his girlfriend and grabbed a gun, firing it into the air and then driving off erratically.
The undercover officer, who was taking his child to school, spotted Rojas and decided to pull him over, prompting the then 19-year-old to open fire. The officer shot back as Rojas ran. He stole a truck and was later shot by police after barricading himself inside his home.
“I will take those bullets instead of a fellow officer and an innocent bystander,” the officer said, according to the Florida Times-Union. “When I brought the fight back to you, you ran like a coward.”
The judge sentenced Rojas to the maximum sentence: life plus 15-years.
LAKE WORTH, Florida — There can be only one!
In a scene straight out of “Highlander,” an unhinged Florida man has been charged with using a 4-foot-long sword to slay a man he lived with in a homeless encampment, police said.
Christopher Livingston, 51, claimed the victim had fallen on the sword during a fight which he said erupted because he felt he had been sexually harassed, according to a rambling statement he gave police.
Deputies with the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office were called to an area near the railroad tracks leading into Lake Worth on Saturday when a passenger spotted a blood-soaked body laying on the ground. He was later identified as 58-year-old David Beckett.
Officers then followed the blood trail from the body and found a 4-foot-long sword nearby and then were brought to a tent camp in the woods where several homeless people live, police said.
As they searched the camp, Livingston — who sports a tattoo straight out of a science fiction film on his forehead — allegedly said from inside a tent: “he attacked me.” He then stepped out revealing he had a bloodied hand covered in a bandage. Cops say he refused to say how he was injured.
Others in the camp said the two men had argued earlier in the day. Livingston claimed Beckett had exposed himself and that he had “raped and killed others,” so he had felt threatened. But he later said he gave Beckett the sword and walked away, and “I don’t know if he ran after me or what happened.”
“He fell on the sword,” he then concluded.
Court records showed that Livingston has a long history of stalking people and has had orders of protection taken out against him. In 2011, he was arrested for walking with a knife into a children’s play area at a shopping mall. The charges were later dismissed after he was deemed incompetent to stand trial.
NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida — You couldn’t get caught more red-handed than this.
A Florida man suspected in a string of attempted auto thefts was arrested after trying to break into an unmarked police car with a group of undercover cops hiding inside.
The Pasco County Sheriff’s office says Stephen Titland, 49, is believed to have tried to break into seven different cars in Trinity Oaks the night before. All the cares were locked and nothing was stolen, but a man resembling Titland was captured on surveillance video.
Calls from residents prompted the sheriff’s office to dispatch its Strategic Targeted Area Response team which specializes in tamping down a spate of crimes in an area.
Their work was quick, as Titland showed up right next to their vehicle the following night in New Port Richey and they were able to solve the case right away.
Titland, who is on probation for burglary in Pinellas County, was charged with seven counts of attempted burglary.
SANFORD, Florida — Some people just don’t know when to let go.
A Florida woman has been charged with putting a tracking device on her ex-boyfriend’s car and then stalking him around town for months.
Erica Capps allegedly would show up at places where the boyfriend — with whom she has an 18-month-old daughter — was, even though he hadn’t told her he was going to be there. She also allegedly sent him pictures of places he was visiting, demanding to know why he was there.
In September, cops say Capps turned up at the home of a woman the boyfriend was visiting and then texted him to come outside where she began arguing with him about being there.
A month later she allegedly showed up at another friends house and started an argument with her ex. A few weeks later, she confronted the boyfriend at a Best Buy, demanding to know who he was there with, cops said.
Earlier this month, Capps allegedly chased the man from a Walgreens to a friend’s house where she started arguing with him.
The situation came to a head last week, when the man discovered the tracking device on his car and called police. Capps was then arrested on a stalking charged and released on the condition she doesn’t contact the man.
Capps told WKMG-TV that the whole matter was really about a custody battle that had gotten out of hand.
“We are actually going through a custody battle, so that was definitely misconstrued by somebody, hence why I am no longer in jail,” Capps told the station.
FORT MYERS, Florida — He’s making an early bid to join the bad parent hall of fame.
A 23-year-old Florida dad has been arrested for leaving his 3-month-old and 3-year-old sons in a car while he went into a strip club around 11 p.m. last week.
The Fort Myers Police say Willie Lee Jordan, Jr. drove up to Scarlett’s Cabaret and went inside for at least 20- to 30-minutes while leaving the kids on their own in the car.
The club’s general manager, Christopher Mays, told WPLG-TV that a security guard discovered what was going on when he heard crying coming from a vehicle in the parking lot. When he got to the car, he saw the baby was sitting upside down.
“His head is where his feet should be, his butt up in the air,” Mays said.
Inside, club management stopped the strippers and announced that they were looking for the dad, Mays said.
When cops arrived, the elder of the two boys managed to open the door so the officers could free them. The boys weren’t hurt
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Florida — Here’s a man who doesn’t let his inhibitions get in the way.
A naked Florida man has been charged with bursting into a woman’s home, getting dressed up in her clothes and then rolling around on her lawn before cops arrived.
“There’s a naked guy that ran in my house!” the homeowner screamed during a 9-1-1 call, reported the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Cops say Joseph Vaglica, 40, pulled up to the woman’s home early Tuesday and hopped out of his car naked before barging inside where he began “acting irrationally.”
He then ran up to the bedroom and began rifling through the woman’s clothes, so she fled to her stepson’s home next door, the New Smyrna Beach police said. Vaglica eventually made his way over to the stepson’s home and began banging on the window, prompting him to pull out a gun and hold the man until police arrived.
Vaglica, who has a lengthy rap sheet, then began rolling around on the lawn.
“He’s definitely drugged out for sure,” the caller said to the 9-1-1 operator.
Police determined that Vaglica was intoxicated and he was taken to a local hospital. He was eventually charged with burglary with assault and was held on $25,000 bail.
MIAMI — That escalated quickly.
Police in Florida have opened a review after video surfaced of a cop clocking a disorderly woman in the face as she was being physically removed from a University of Miami-Virginia Tech football game.
The Miami-Dade police say the woman, Bridget Freitas, had been “arguing with stadium patrons and using profanity in a loud boisterous manner,” when they asked her to leave.
“Several attempts were made to calm [her] down and walk [her] up the stairwell of the stadium bowl,” but Freitas refused to cooperate, police said, according to the Sun Sentinel.
She then plopped down on the steps and refused to budge, prompting more officers to be called. Then four officers picked Freitas, a 30-year-old nurse, up bodily and began carrying her out of the stadium.
As they had her lifted overhead, the video shows Freitas flailing her arms and take a swipe at the back of the head of one of the officers. He responded by giving her a sharp crack to the jaw. While she appears to go limp, the result of the blow is unclear.
In their report, the officers sad striking Freitas was necessary ”to gain compliance and control.”
In a statement, the Miami-Dade police said they were “aware of the video and are reviewing the incident to ensure compliance with our policies and procedures.”
“Promoting a safe and secure environment during any special event is our primary concern,” the statement continued.
Freitas was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct/breach of the peace.
COCOA, Florida — Leave leaping tall buildings in a single bound to Superman.
A Florida man was airlifted to a hospital with severe head injuries after tumbling three floors while trying to leap from a roof to a neighboring building, cops said.
Witnesses told cops they saw the man and two others horsing around on the roof of the building in Coral, shortly before the man fell, WFTV-TV reported.
Cops say the man managed to get onto the roof by climbing an unsecured ladder.
While the man suffered serious head injuries, he is expected to live, cops said.