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April 19, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Michael A. Adkinson, Jr. was recognized with a 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. The award was presented to Mr. Adkinson at the 2017 Criminology Development Council Hall of Fame Celebratory Brunch, held March 24 at Hotel Duval in Tallahassee, Fla. The event, which was originally scheduled for Sept. 9, 2017, was postponed due to the events of Hurricane Irma.

Mr. Adkinson was one of eight alumni to receive this prestigious award, which recognizes and honors the numerous professional and personal achievements of FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice graduates. Recipients demonstrate outstanding professional accomplishments, service to the College, FSU, community and/or professional organizations, as well as embody the strength, skill, and character of Florida State University.

“Our College is pleased and proud to have such successful alumni that are impacting the world around them after their time here at the FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice,” said Eden Thorne, director of development. “They are great examples of how we bring research to life every day.”

The FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice leads the nation in research and education. The College’s top priority is to ensure its graduates possess critical, independent thinking skills. Their policy-defining research, collaborative study, and leadership engagement opportunities are just a few of the ingredients that help mold these skills.


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For Immediate Release

April 19, 2018

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— Authorities in Walton County are asking for the public’s help in locating an absconded sexual offender.

Jeffrey Bryan Way, 41, is currently wanted for failure to register a new address. He is no stranger to the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. He has previously been arrested on a slew of charges including domestic violence and burglary with battery.

Please help Way find his way back behind bars.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 892-8186 or you can remain anonymous by calling Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 863-TIPS. Submit a web tip at or send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile Application.

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badgesFor Immediate Release

April 13, 2018

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla— A Walton County man is arrested following a violation of risk protection order issued by the First Judicial Circuit.

On April 10th, James Edward Pearson was served a signed risk protection order by Walton County Sheriff’s Office investigators.

The Risk Protection Order Act was enacted following the Valentine’s Day murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School intended to give law enforcement more power to take firearms from people with mental health issues that exhibit threats of violence against themselves or others.


The risk protection order stated Pearson was required to immediately surrender firearms and ammunition in his custody, control, or possession to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office because of exhibiting behavior that threatened himself or others and showing signs of instability.

Pearson then surrendered a single firearm located in his vehicle and told investigators he did not have any weapons at his home. Pearson declined a search of his residence and stated law enforcement would have to obtain a warrant.

The following day the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office conducted a follow-up investigation and developed probable cause for a search warrant signed on April 12th. Walton County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search warrant at 48 Nikki Circle.

The search led to the discovery of four pistols, three of which were functional, along with an estimated several thousand rounds of assorted ammunition in areas Pearson had sole access to. In addition to the firearms, three suppressors were located and seized along with three badges from Panhandle Sheriff’s Offices including Washington, Walton, and Okaloosa.

By knowingly and intentionally having firearms and ammunition Pearson was subsequently arrested for violating a risk protection order, a third-degree felony.

Please note in accordance with public record law all details cannot be released regarding this incident.


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ENGULFED 1For Immediate Release

April 13, 2018

PONCE DE LEON, Fla— Two bodies found following a house fire in Ponce De Leon have been positively identified.

Walton County Fire Rescue and Walton County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home on 181-C in the early morning hours on March 29th following a frantic 911 call from a relative. When deputies and fire crews arrived the home was fully engulfed. Two bodies were later located in the burned structure.

The two bodies have been identified as Raymond Leon Yancey, 61, and Rebecca Rushing-Barker, 55.

The fire was deemed suspicious in nature and is still under investigation. More information will be released once it becomes available.

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Turn 'Em In Tuesday (23)These three suspects are wanted for failing to register as sex offenders. Additionally, two are wanted on other charges.

Johnathan Michael Saylor is wanted for sexual battery of a minor child under the age of 12-years-old by an offender over the age of 18-years-old and lewd and lascivious molestation of a minor child.

Joshua Michael Phelps is wanted for lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under the age of 16-years-old and lewd and lascivious behavior by a sexual offender older than 18-year-old to a victim less than 16-years-old.

Jeffrey Bryan Way – Failure to register a new address.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 892-8186 or you can remain anonymous by calling Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 863-TIPS. Submit a web tip at or send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile Application.

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Lewd and Lascivious VehicleFor Immediate Release

April 11, 2018

SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla— Information is being sought following an incident of lewd and lascivious behavior at a Walton County high school sporting event.

On the evening of April 9th between 4:30pm and 5:00pm, an Escambia County bus driver noticed a male subject masturbating in his car in the north parking lot of South Walton High School during a women’s lacrosse game. The incident was not reported until after the subject had left the school parking lot.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office is actively seeking information regarding a white male, middle-aged (late 30’s to early 40’s), short dark colored hair, wearing a light blue t-shirt. The vehicle he was driving is described as a 4-door compact car, silver or gray, possibly a Hyundai Accent Hatchback.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at (850) 892-8186 or you can remain anonymous by calling Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers at (850) 863-TIPS. Submit a web tip at or send a mobile tip using the P3 Tips Mobile Application.

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sheriff-michael-adkinson-9.pngFor Immediate Release

April 4, 2018

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— Thirty-seven percent of American children are reported to Child Protective Services by their 18th birthday.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office recognizes these statistics as a top priority and dedicates specific positions at the Sheriff’s Office to this cause. In addition, beginning July 1st WCSO will assume investigations involving child protection from the state.

“We look at this as an opportunity to better serve our most precious asset – our children,” said Sheriff Michael Adkinson.

To help spread awareness during the month of April, WCSO is continuing our efforts to get the community involved.

Art Contest: For the sixth year in a row WCSO is launching our “Family Fun Art Contest”. Children attending school in Walton County are encouraged to share artwork displaying fun and safe activities they do with their family. There will be three age categories: 5-10, 11-14, and 15-17. The winners of each category will have their art displayed in the Sheriff’s Office Administration Building and on our social media platforms! Art may be dropped off to the school’s School Resource Deputy at the main office at 752 Triple G Road in DeFuniak Springs or our Santa Rosa Beach Office at 133 Sheriff Drive between the hours of 8am-5pm.  Please include the name of the child, age, and a contact number for a parent or guardian on the back of the artwork. We ask that students do not use paper larger than 11”x 7”.

Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 25th.

Donation Drive: In this first annual effort WCSO is asking members of the community to participate in a donation drive benefiting those affected by child abuse. WCSO is asking for baby wipes, diapers, toothpaste, underwear of all sizes, gift cards, individually wrapped snacks, juice boxes, chocolate chip cookie dough, canned soda, water, facial tissues, and children’s clothing. When items are collected they will be dropped off at the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center. Items can be dropped off at our main office at 752 Triple G Road in DeFuniak Springs or our Santa Rose Beach Office at 133 Sheriff Drive between the hours of 8am-5pm.

Donations will be collected until April 30th.

“April is a chance for our agency to recommit to ensuring every child grows up in a safe and nurturing home,” said Sheriff Adkinson. “We appreciate our community’s support and encourage our residents to get involved in our efforts.”

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Wedding Ring FoundFor Immediate Release

April 9, 2018

WALTON COUNTY, Fla— A private resident has reached out to Walton County Sheriff’s Office after the discovery of a wedding ring set.

On the night of April 7th, an individual located a wedding ring and band on the beach near Seacrest. The ring and band were located together as if a person may have taken them off and placed them on a blanket. The person who located the rings was walking on the beach near Cottage Way, Walton Gulf View and A Street heading east toward Rosemary Beach. The specific located was uncertain because of the time of day.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office would like to help reunite the rings with their owner. We have a photograph of the rings and specific details that would need to be presented for the rightful owner to claim the property.

We are excited to help bring some good news to a surely worrisome bride.

Please email [email protected] if you believe the ring may belong to you.

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April 3, 2018

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla—A multi-agency attack leads to the knock down of a residential fire on Spradlin Road in DeFuniak Springs.

At 11:38 PM Monday night, Walton County Fire Rescue crews were dispatched to the 200 block of Spradlin Road in reference to a residential structure fire. Firefighters and paramedics arrived within minutes to find a 5th wheel RV fully engulfed in flames. In less than 10 minutes, WCFR crews and firefighters from DeFuniak Springs Fire Department, Argyle Volunteer Fire Department and Liberty Volunteer Fire Department had the fire under control.

The resident of the recreational vehicle, who was home at the time of the fire, made it out safely and without injury. Unfortunately, firefighters were unable to save the family dog.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the cause of the fire. The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the residents of the disintegrated home.

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Alaqua Animal Refuge and Walton County Sheriff’s Office to be Featured on New TV Series Premiering April 14

Breezy_and_Laurie1DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla— After months of filming on location in the Florida Panhandle, Nat Geo WILD announced today the air date of a new TV series featuring Alaqua Animal Refuge and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO).

The new series, Animal PD, will premiere on Saturday night, April 14, 2018 at 9 p.m. (CST) on the Nat Geo WILD TV Channel, and will be shown right after the popular The Incredible Dr. Pol. Additional shows are set for Saturday, April 21 and Saturday, April 28.

Animal PD is based on the unique partnership of Alaqua Animal Refuge and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office, and their relentless efforts to bring about awareness and change in overall animal welfare and animal cruelty cases. The series follows Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua, and Breezy Adkinson, a WCSO investigator, as they investigate anonymous tips, execute raids and rescues, and build cases to bring their owners to justice.

An “Animal PD Premiere Party” has also been scheduled for April 14 at 7:30 p.m. at The Hub 30A, and the community is invited to join us! There will also be live music at The Hub from 7 to 9 pm. The premiere episode, “Unchained and Dangerous,” will be shown on the big screen and highlights Adkinson and Hood as they respond to a suspicious call of two aggressive dogs terrorizing a neighborhood, while the Alaqua team rescues and rehabilitates dogs and cats in critical condition, abandoned at a deceased man’s trailer home.

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