July 25 – It’s been a busy time for Monroe County Sheriff’s Department lately and Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about issues facing the county.
The Sheriff’s Department had some serious issues recently – two murders in Monroe County.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We really don’t have murders in the Keys. It’s still one of the safest places to live, work and play. We always say if we do have a murder, though, it’s going to be domestic-related, homeless on homeless or drug related.”
The latest two incidents were domestic related.
In Marathon, Sean Chidester, 39, called police saying that his girlfriend had committed suicide with a firearm.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This individual has a longstanding history of violent, domestic battery, domestic violence. We’ve been called out there several times. A lot of times unfortunately the victims stay with these people for a lot of variety of reasons.”
Chidester claimed he was in another room when he heard the gun go off and the girlfriend had shot herself in the top of her head with his gun.
Detectives from major crime units as well as the medical examiner came in.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We pretty quickly determined that the story was inconsistent to where the evidence was pointing us. Our evidence was pointing us that there was only two people in the room and she could not have committed this infliction of the wound based on where the round went in.”
It was determined she was the victim and he was the shooter.
A warrant was filed and Chidester is in jail on murder charges.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “A sad, sad case for sure, but we’re glad we can get some closure for the family and get him arrested.”
The second murder was also a domestic abuse case and the woman was beaten to death.
On Stock Island, Delmon Washington, 44, had a long-term girlfriend for 22 years, although he was in prison for a lot of that time.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “This is a career criminal who the majority of his adult life has been in either jails or prisons. He’s had 40 felony arrests. He’s had 37 misdemeanor arrests. So this person has been charged 77 times with violent crimes, drug charges, weapons charges. So this is a terrible, terrible person.”
The whole thing began with a traffic stop by Key West Police. Around midnight, police saw a car driving on the rim of the road. During the stop, Washington was the sole occupant in the car and he was soaked in blood.
Deputies called immediately for medical help and it was determined he was not injured at all – the blood was from another source.
The car was not his – it was his girlfriend’s mother’s car and her purse was in the car.
The family was contacted and they did a wellness check on the girlfriend on Stock Island and they discovered she had been bludgeoned to death.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Extremely violent crime scene. Signs of a violent fight. Everything broken, smashed, blood everywhere.”
Major crime units and the medical examiner got on the scene and the investigation lasted 12 hours.
Video surveillance was discovered that showed the two going into the house and later Washington came out and put something in the trash (which was later recovered).
Within 12 hours of the time of the crime, Washington was charged with murder.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “He won’t be out again to inflict danger and carnage on our community. His days of being free are over.”
A woman in Marathon was arrested for lighting bed sheets on fire while her boyfriend lay sleeping. They had an argument earlier in the night that resulted in him getting burned in his own bed.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “When we think domestic violence, we always think men, which are the majority offenders, but we do have plenty of times we see women are the aggressors, the offenders and commit the acts of violence.”
The man’s feet and lower extremities were burned.
The woman was arrested for arson, domestic battery and other charges.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Department assisted the FBI and Key West Police Department with the arrest of a motorcycle gang member recently.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We don’t have much gang activity in the Keys and motorcycle gangs are almost zero, but we do have the Pagans who are down in our Keys at times. Over the years I’ve been very vigilant to arrest these individuals if and when they commit any crimes right away. We’ve taken a hard line stance. I’m going to continue to take that hard line stance against these Pagan motorcycle members.”
A few months ago a search warrant was executed in Key West for drugs and guns. Justin Meyer, 31, lived with his girlfriend’s parents and was a convicted felon on multiple drugs, weapons and ammunition charges.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’ve been…trying to get certain cases taken federally. Our friends at the US Attorney’s office and FBI decided to move forward with this case. We keep trying to show that hey, we have one of the strongest working relationships state, local, federal, anywhere that we work together as one big team and we’re sending a message that we’re not going to tolerate this crap from these Pagan motorcycle members or anybody else who are trying to hurt our communities. Bring in drugs, violence and threatening our citizens are not going to fly. We’re not going to be intimidated and we are going to continue to put them in jail.”
Also, two men tried to kidnap Key deer recently.
A car driving erratically was stopped at night and deputies found four men and a live, endangered species Key deer inside. The deer was shoved in the back of the vehicle on top of chairs, coolers and other materials.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called to the scene and other officers arrived to secure the injured deer. It was taken the refuge on Big Pine for veterinary services.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Don’t know its condition. Hoping it’s going to live, but if these things get traumatized, they tend to die pretty quickly and easily.”
FWC took the case over and the men were charged with felony charges including from the endangered species act and cruelty towards animals.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Such a traumatic situation. So terrible. So glad to get everyone accountable. We’ve seen this before. It’s just hard to understand why someone’s going to try to grab those live Key deer and take it. Generally they’re going back to Miami. That’s where these four were headed back to Miami with this Key deer in the back of the car.”
Migrants are also attempting to come into Florida from Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas. Recently one vessel did sink – 16 people perished, including one child.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “We’re seeing a huge influx. We’re seeing record numbers of vast migration that’s occurring throughout south Florida, but especially in the Florida Keys because we’re so close to Cuba. We’re getting close to being a crisis situation I think pretty soon if it keeps up these numbers.”
Remember with mini lobster season, traffic on the roads and water will be heavy.
Sheriff Ramsay said, “Think ahead, be patient, be cautious and it’s not worth fighting over six lobsters with somebody.”