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FIFTEEN CAR BURGLARIES OVER THE WEEKEND; ONE WEAPON STOLEN

HIDE LOCK TAKE UPDATED.pngFor Immediate Release

November 20, 2017

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla— Fifteen car burglaries were reported over the weekend in the south end of Walton County— all vehicles were left unlocked and one firearm was stolen.

The car burglaries occurred between Saturday night to early Monday morning. Eight of the 15 burglaries happened on Red Fish Circle in Blue Mountain Beach, three occurred on Hackberry Way.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in remembering to lock their doors and be diligent in reporting suspicious activity in your neighborhoods.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850)-892-8111 or you can remain anonymous by calling Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 863-TIPS submit a web tip at http://www.emeraldcoastcrimestoppers.com/ OR send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile Application.

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ONE SUSPECT ARRESTED; ONE STILL WANTED IN CONNECTION WITH OCTOBER AMBER ALERT

SUSPECT

Paul Lewis Vaughan

For Immediate Release

November 17, 2017

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— An arrest has been made in connection with an Amber Alert issued out of Walton County in October.

Paul Lewis Vaughan, 39, is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon following an investigation into the incident on October 28th where he and Joseph Harding, 35, entered a home on Otter Pond Road taking Rebecca Harding, 33, and Gracie Harding, 2, by force using brass knuckles, a pool stick, and other weapons. The two men then fled the scene with the victims in a red ford mustang.

SUSPECT 2

Joseph Harding

Multiple agencies responded to help aid in the search including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Holmes, Geneva, Jackson, and Bay County Sheriff’s Offices.

Rebecca and Gracie were located a several hours later in Samson, Alabama unharmed.

Vaughan was booked into the Walton County Jail on November 15th where he is being held on a $50,000 bond. Harding currently has active warrants and remains at large.

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WALTON COUNTY DUMP TRUCK DRIVER ARRESTED FOR OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT

Brian Walters Mug ShotFor Immediate Release

November 17, 2017

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— A Walton County Public Works employee is arrested after stealing asphalt and falsifying activity logs while working as a dump truck driver.

In early November, a report was filed with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office by a county employee regarding the misconduct of Brian James Walters, 37. The report claimed Walters was telling co-workers he had stolen asphalt to use on his personal driveway.

An investigation was launched into the complaint. Documents obtained showed that on two separate occasions Walters submitted an official Activity Log for a FEMA Rain Event in which he stated that three loads of milled asphalt had been picked up from Anderson Columbia and delivered to the Walton County Yard on McKinnon Bridge Road. These loads are acquired by the county through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and according to the Public Works Department of Walton County; the price the county pays for each load of milled asphalt is $150.00.

It was later discovered, once Walters realized he was being investigated he asked an Anderson Columbia employee over text message to create a receipt for two loads of asphalt to provide to investigators to show he had purchased the asphalt.

“Walters used his position as a government employee with Walton County Public Works to steal materials meant for county use, and instead used them for his own gain,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson.

Walters was arrested and charged with Official Misconduct and Petit Theft for knowingly falsifying an official record in which he turned in an activity log that was incorrect and stole two loads of asphalt.

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WALTON COUNTY HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR ARRESTED FOR INSURANCE FRAUD

Walton County, Fla—The Human Resources Director for Walton County is arrested for insurance fraud following an investigation by Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Financial Services Bureau of Insurance Fraud.

On October 17th WCSO was notified of potential insurance fraud involving an employee within the Walton County Human Resources department. An investigation was launched and discrepancies were found in the insurance file of Human Resources Director, Ella Mae Walters, 48.

Documents collected during the investigation indicated Walters’ insurance coverage for United Concordia Dental listed a dependent, Christopher C. Byrd. Based on the date of birth of Byrd and additional documents provided, Byrd did not qualify as a dependent for Walters.

With the assistance of the Florida Department of Financial Services Bureau of Insurance Fraud a review of Walters’ United Concordia policy, and claims filed under that policy, was completed. A total of three claims were filed pertaining to treatment for Byrd .

During the investigation, it was learned Byrd was employed by Walton County Board of County Commissioners as a courier from December 2014 to October 2015. However, during his tenure with Walton County he never elected, added, or chose to enroll in dental insurance of any kind.

“As the Human Resources Director for our county Ella Mae Walters has extensive knowledge of employment benefits and has direct ability to approve and oversee all changes to insurance,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson. “In saying that, Mrs. Walters knowingly and intentionally obtained a benefit for Christopher Byrd by falsifying an official record or official document. In discussions with County Administration, it was clear that they shared our concerns and cooperated fully with the investigation.”

According to the Walton County Administrator Larry Jones, Walters will be placed on administrative leave until an internal review can be completed. “Once we became aware of these allegations, it was imperative that the Sheriff’s office be allowed to conduct their investigation with no influence or interference from County staff. Now that the charges have been filed, we will place Walters on administrative leave and perform an internal review to determine the most appropriate course of action,” Jones said.

Ella Mae Walters turned herself in in Okaloosa County this morning and is charged with official misconduct, false and fraudulent insurance claims, and falsifying records. This investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be forthcoming.

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SEXUAL PREDATOR SENTENCED TO 20 YEARS IN PRISON

For Immediate Release

November 17, 2017

WALTON COUNTY, Fla—A DeFuniak Springs man is now designated as a Sexual Predator and a Habitual Felony Offender and will spend the next two decades behind bars.

Buddy Lee Curry, 41, plead no contest after breaking into a home in DeFuniak Springs in July of 2016 and sexually battering a teenager. Curry entered the house on Walnut Drive armed with a pocket knife and took several items including an air compressor, chop saw, 2 wallets, and a bottle of prescription pills. There were also additional items such as lap tops and air tools which he was attempting to take from the home.

While inside the residence Curry went into the 17-year-old’s bedroom and exposed himself, got on top of the victim, put his hands around the victim’s throat and threatened their life if they attempted to scream. During the encounter Curry touched the victim inappropriately. The teenager was able to get away from Curry and wake up the parents who then confronted Curry inside the residence.

A struggle ensued between the victim’s father and Curry who then fled the scene in a stolen SUV. Deputies caught up with the suspect at Highway 90 West and Girl Scout Road after being positively identified by the victim from the back of an ambulance. DNA evidence was also collected from the crime scene that confirmed Curry’s identity.

“She is a very, very brave girl,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson following the incident. “She acted courageously during an incredibly awful situation.”

The investigation and arrest was conducted by the Walton County Sheriff’s Office and Curry was charged with Burglary of a Dwelling with an Assault/Battery, Attempted Sexual Battery, Possession of Burglary Tools, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Grand Theft, Burglary of an Unoccupied Conveyance, Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure, Grand Theft Auto, and Petit Theft. Assistant State Attorney Matthew J. Richardson prosecuted the case.

State Attorney Bill Eddins Office announced in a press release Wednesday Curry was sentenced by Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells to 20 years in prison. As part of his sentence, Curry was designated both as a Habitual Felony Offender and a Sexual Predator. By being designated a sexual predator, he will be subject to the state’s registration and monitoring requirements for the rest of his life

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COUPLE ARRESTED ON METH CHARGES; THEN WIFE CAUGHT BRINGING METH INTO THE JAIL

For Immediate Release

November 9, 2017

FREEPORT, Fla— A woman arrested following a traffic stop attempts to bring methamphetamine into the Walton County Jail in her underwear.

At 10:45 Wednesday night Walton County Sheriff’s Deputies pulled over a white Chevrolet SUV on Trout Drive in Freeport after the Delaware tag on the vehicle came back not on file. Once the vehicle came to a stop Johnny DeWayne Sparks, 32, exited the vehicle yelling and waving his hands in the air. In 2005, Sparks’ driver’s license was suspended indefinitely after he was arrested eight times for driving while license suspended or revoked.

Sparks was detained and deputies began speaking to the passenger Donna Jean Sparks, 36, when they noticed a clear crystal substance and a wrapper on the driver’s side floor board. The substance in the wrapper and on the floor board was tested positive for methamphetamine.

When searching the vehicle further, deputies located a Ruger .380 with a fully loaded magazine and one round in the chamber. The pistol was wrapped up in a blanket on the passenger side floor board. A box of .380 ammunition containing 26 rounds and a digital scale was also located. In 2009 Sparks was convicted of armed robbery making him a convicted felon.

In addition, a backpack containing a small black bag was found. Inside was a small clear baggy with a clear crystal substance and small zip lock baggies. This substance also field tested positive for meth.

Donna Jean denied any involvement in drug activity. She stated they just bought the SUV and she did not know what was in it. Johnny Dewayne admitted to knowingly driving without a license and told deputies everything in the vehicle was his. Both were arrested.

Upon arrival at the Walton County Jail Donna Jean was searched for weapons and contraband. Located inside her underwear was a small bag containing a clear crystal substance. The clear crystal substance field tested positive for methamphetamine.

Donna Jean Sparks is charged with possession of a controlled substance, introducing contraband into a jail facility and possession of drug paraphernalia. Johnny DeWayne Sparks is charged with felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance, drug paraphernalia, knowingly driving while license revoked and plate not assigned.

 

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PANAMA CITY MAN ARRESTED FOR METH IN WALTON COUNTY SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN FEDERAL PRISON

For Immediate Release

November 9, 2017

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— A traffic stop on Highway 20 in May of this year led to the discovery of more than 25 grams of methamphetamine. Now, the person responsible for trafficking it into Walton County will spend 12 years in prison.

On May 2, 2017, a confidential source relayed information to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) indicating Joshua Ray Fountain, 40, of Panama City was traveling towards Okaloosa County to pick up methamphetamine and would be returning to Panama City. Fountain was already serving a five-year term of federal supervised release following a 12 year stint in federal prison on methamphetamine charges.

Fountain Case Meth.jpg

That afternoon, DEA agents notified Walton County Sheriff’s Office they were following Fountain towards Freeport on Highway 20 on his way back to Bay County. Deputies pulled over the vehicle and a K9 was deployed and alerted to the driver’s side door. More than 25 grams of methamphetamine were found inside the car along with a digital scale.

Fountain was sentenced Tuesday November 7th to serve a total term of 144 months in prison after pleading guilty to possessing with intent to distribute more than five grams of methamphetamine, and admitting to violating the terms of his federal supervised release by possessing the methamphetamine while on federal supervision.

The sentence was announced Thursday by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

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FOUR CUR DOGS STOLEN FROM DEFUNIAK SPRINGS MAN

For Immediate Release

November 6, 2017

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— After a night of hunting a man comes home to find four of his dogs have been stolen.

Deputies were called out to Myers Road Saturday morning regarding a report of a residential burglary. The victim told deputies he left his home to go hunting around 4AM and when he returned around noon four of his hunting dogs were taken from their kennel. The dog’s collars were removed and placed neatly on top of the kennels.

The cur dogs are described as follows:

12-year-old, female, “Flower”, small growth on left side

Dog 2

12-year-old male “Bambi”

Dog 3

5-year-old, male, “Jazz”, white marking on face, small growth on chestDog 1.jpg

1-year-old, female, “Sage”

Dog 4

Anyone with information is asked to call the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850)-892-8111 or you can remain anonymous by calling Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 863-TIPS submit a web tip at http://www.emeraldcoastcrimestoppers.com/ OR send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile Application.

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WCSO LAUNCHES GIFT DRIVE FOR SANTA PATROL AND COMMUNITY CHRISTMAS

Gift Drive TwitterFor Immediate Release

November 6, 2017

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— Walton County Sheriff’s Office is asking our community to join us in helping give the gift of hope this Christmas.

Many families in Walton County are in need this holiday season and could use some assistance in providing for their children.

“Keep in mind these are kids of all ages,” said Sheriff Adkinson. “Not just youngsters, but teenagers as well. That’s why we are calling it a gift drive – so we don’t limit the focus to just toys.”

Starting Monday November 6th the Walton County Sheriff’s Office is asking for donations for our 2017 Gift Drive for Santa Patrol and Community Christmas.

“Children are society’s greatest gift and we want to do all we can to ensure they have a few gifts under the under the tree,” said Walton County Sheriff’s Captain Angie Hogeboom. “Working with the Matrix shows just how important community truly is while also providing an opportunity for our deputies and firefighters to have a positive interaction with the families and –- most importantly – the children.”

We have drop off locations at our north and south end offices as well as our Walton County Fire Rescue stations.

“Preparation for the 2017 Community Christmas event is in full swing and the Matrix is super excited to be working alongside WCSO Santa Patrol again this year,” said Candy Nowling of the Matrix. “This partnership began in 2011 and has grown beyond our wildest imagination thanks to the hard work of so many groups like the Santa Patrol, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and so many more. Our goal this year is to provide for over 500 children in need here in Walton County for the Christmas holiday.”

For more information on getting assistance for your family contact Ashley Foushee at the Walton County Sheriff’s Office by emailing AFoushee@waltonso.org.

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ONE ARRESTED FOLLOWING SHOOTING ON QUEBEC AVENUE

1CY0ASCFFor Immediate Release

November 4, 2017

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— A 19-year-old is arrested following a shooting Saturday on Quebec Avenue. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Just before 1pm Saturday Walton County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a shots fired call where the suspect entered the adjoining property and fired one round towards a subject and then fled the scene on foot. A 9mm shell was found at the scene and collected as evidence. A bullet hole was discovered in the privacy fence at the home and documented. After canvassing the neighborhood, a suspect was identified as Antwan Tyrell Hill, 19.

Just after 6pm, Hill was located and arrested for aggravated assault with a firearm and discharging a firearm in public. He was transported and booked into the Walton County Jail.

DeFuniak Springs Police Department assisted with this investigation.

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