Public Information

Press Releases

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that has been used in the blog.

Santa Rosa Beach, Fla— Scratched, cut, and bruised from running through the woods an 18-year-old is now behind bars after a citizen calls to report a reckless driver in Santa Rosa Beach.  

On August 20th just before 12:30am WCSO deputies responded to a reckless driver complaint near 30A and Highway 98. The caller told dispatchers the driver of the vehicle was all over the roadway, riding in the median, and speeding in access of 80 miles an hour.

Deputies caught up with the vehicle on Allen Loop Drive and as they approached the car the vehicle blew through a stop sign at Allen Loop and Masters Court. Deputies initiated a traffic stop as the vehicle approached, but the suspect quickly accelerated the car, swerving around the patrol car, and continued on Allen Loop Drive.

The suspect drove approximately 200 yards past the deputies when he pulled over and ran into the woods. A passenger in the vehicle positively identified the driver as Shane Sanders, 18, and said they knew Sanders license was not valid and thought he may have been under the influence of drugs.

The WCSO K9 Unit was called in and K9 Ella located Sanders in under an hour with the keys to the vehicle still around his neck on a lanyard.  


Sanders was charged with fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement officers, driving without a license, and was also issued a citation for running a stop sign. 

Posted by on in Press Releases

DeFuniak Springs, Fla—  On Wednesday August 19th  just before 4:30pm deputies with the Walton County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop near the intersection of Lakeview Drive and Shoemaker Drive in reference to a wanted felon out of Holmes County being spotted in the area.

34-year-old Patrick Owens and his girlfriend 24-year-old Crystal Bailey were arrested on out-of-county warrants out of Holmes County, Fl.

Both were transported and booked into the Walton County Jail for processing. As of 10am this morning they are still incarcerated in the Walton County Jail.



Santa Rosa Beach, Fla— On Monday, August 10th at around 7pm deputies were called to a domestic dispute in the area of Murphy’s Gas Station on U.S. Highway 98. As Deputy Allen Pullings was approaching the intersection of West Hewitt Road he pulled into the turn lane for Murphy’s Gas Station and observed a vehicle matching the description of those involved in the domestic violence incident.

The vehicle was facing north attempting to turn east onto U.S. Highway 98.  Deputy Pullings recognized the driver as Samantha Stuart, 37, from previous criminal incidents and encounters.

Pullings attempted to tell Stuart to pull over, but instead she pulled out onto Highway 98 heading eastbound driving estimated speeds of 90 miles an hour. Stuart began weaving in and out of traffic even when Deputy Pullings engaged his lights and sirens.

As Stuart approached C.R 30A west the vehicle made a rapid turn into the Exxon Gas Station located at the intersection of C.R. 30A and U.S. Highway 98 west.  Deputy Pullings observed the driver, Samantha Stuart, exit the vehicle and walk into the Exxon store even after being told to stop.

Deputy Kristin Pond and K9 “Kayne” were deployed to the scene. Kayne conducted a free air sniff and made a positive alert on the vehicle giving probable cause for a search. A blue canvas bag containing four syringes was discovered along with a gold Michael Kors make-up bag containing a red Frio bag.  Inside the Frio bag was a clear plastic straw, which had methamphetamine inside it and two metal spoons.  

The passenger in the car, Charles Manza, 21, was handcuffed while deputies performed a “pat down” of his outer garments.  During the search a marijuana pipe was discovered in Manza’s left front pocket.  Further investigation revealed three additional pipe/smoking devices with burnt marijuana located in a black duffel bag inside the vehicle.  Post Miranda Manza admitted ownership of all four pipes.


Charles Michael Manza was charged with four counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Samantha Stuart was charged on one count of reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, possession of methamphetamine, and four counts of drug paraphernalia. 

On August 9th deputies with the WCSO conducted a traffic stop in the area of US Hwy 331 South related to Willie Goldsmith, 33, driving on a suspended license.

During this investigation WCSO Sergeant Nick Bearden arrived and deployed K9 “Duko”, which resulted in a positive alert on the vehicle. Deputy Bearden and Deputy Phillip Gaither searched the vehicle and found a “Red Bull” can under the center console, which appeared to be unopened.

Sergeant Bearden unscrewed the lid of the can and inside a compartment built inside the can were 4.6 grams of ICE and 5.3 grams of marijuana.  The items were placed inside a 2x6 plastic bag with a red apple printed on it. Also, inside the can was a small stainless steel spoon with white crystal residue on it and several small bags used to distribute drugs.

The drugs were concealed by placing in a hidden compartment inside of a commonly used item in an attempt to deceive any onlooker.

WCSO had probable cause in believing Goldsmith had intentions to sell or distribute the methamphetamines and marijuana. He was subsequently arrested for possession of methamphetamines with intent to sell or distribute, marijuana distribution, and possession of paraphernalia to transport drugs.


This will make Goldsmiths 32nd arrest in the state of Florida. Other arresting agencies include Pensacola Police Department, Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, DeFuniak Springs Police Department, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and Walton County Sheriff’s Office. 

Santa Rosa Beach, Fla— A Crestview teenager already incarcerated on charges from two different Northwest Florida agencies is served with 11 additional warrants from the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. 16-year-old Devon is currently at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Crestview on charges from Niceville Police Department and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

On the night of June 29th into the early morning hours of June 30th a total of eight vehicles were burglarized and four vehicles stolen. 

The incidents were linked together by the following facts:

A wallet from a stolen Honda Odyssey from Pelican Bay Drive in Santa Rosa Beach was found in a recovered 2011 Chevrolet pickup from Bayou Point Drive.

Mail from the 2011 Chevrolet pickup from Bayou Point Drive was found near a vehicle burglary that occurred at Knightsbridge Court.

Documents from a stolen 2011 Infinity from Whispering Lake Drive were found in a Toyota Prius out of Okaloosa County, which Moore admitted to being a part of to OCSO Investigators.

Mr. Moore distinctly identified the Infinity and a vehicle involving the theft of firearms (Lullaby Loop burglary) and the specific neighborhoods in which the crimes occurred. 

During the course of the interview Moore was shown a map which included the following cases:


53 Bayou Point Road (Auto Burglary)

27 Bayou Point Road (Auto Burglary)

27 Bayou Point Road (Auto Theft 2011 Chevrolet truck)

367 Whispering Lake Drive (Auto Burglary w/ Theft of Firearms)

314 Whispering Lake Drive (Auto Theft 2011 Infinity)

227 Lullaby Loop (Auto Burglary)

114 Knightsbridge Ct. (Auto Burglary)

110 Knightsbridge Ct. (Auto Burglary)

114 Knightsbridge Ct. (Auto Theft 2013 KIA Sorrento)

55 Knightsbridge Ct. (Auto Burglary)

64 Windy Way (Auto Burglary)


Mr. Moore admitted to being a part of all of the listed auto thefts and auto burglaries except the theft of a 2005 Honda Odyssey on Pelican Bay Drive, which occurred the same night as the other crimes.  This would be consistent with Moore and an unknown number of others committing crimes as they traveled east from Fort Walton Beach down U.S. Highway 98 into Walton county.



Moore is being charged with three counts of grand theft auto and eight counts of burglary. 

Posted by on in Press Releases


Miramar Beach, Fla— A 16 year old girl on vacation with her family has run away for the third time since visiting Florida. Maci Withrow was last seen at the pool at Maravilla in Miramar Beach on Thursday August 6th at approximately 6pm wearing a floral print dress. She was reported missing Friday by her family. Withrow dyed her hair purple hair and is wearing the same dress she was last seen in.  It should be noted she could have dyed her hair again since the photo. 


Her family was here on vacation from Ohio.  They were due to check out Friday and have since returned home. 


Withrow sometimes tells people her name is Meci, that she is 20 years old, and that she is from Germany and is traveling on her own.  She was reported to have been seen in the area of Ellis Road and the Pompano Joe's beach access and may be in the company of a female with dark hair named Katie.  Nothing further is known about Katie.


If you have any information on Withrow’s whereabouts contact the Walton County Sheriff’s Office at 892-8111. 

DeFuniak Springs, Fla— A traffic stop for non-operational tail-lights leads to the arrest of a DeFuniak Springs woman this morning. Deputy Phillip Kent was responding to a reckless driver call in the area of U.S. Highway 331 North and Highway 90 around 10:30am when he spotted a green GMC pick-up truck at the corner of Black Bass Boulevard and Juniper Lake Road with no working tail-lights.

Deputy Kent made contact with the driver, 35-year-old Jessica Land, and asked for her Driver's License, which she did not have. The deputy asked Land and her passenger to step out of the vehicle in efforts to gather their information since they did not have identification on them.

While running their information through dispatch, K9 Sergeant Nick Bearden conducted a free air sniff around the exterior of the GMC pickup with K9 Duko. While completing the free-air sniff, K-9 Duko alerted to the vehicle providing probably cause for a search.

“I have never seen that many syringes during one traffic stop,” said Deputy Phillip Kent.

Kent and Sergeant Bearden conducted a vehicle search locating approximately 20 syringes in Land's purse, a spoon with residue and several other needles located in a VHS movie box, and a Kroger ibuprofen bottle with a white powder substance that tested positive for Cocaine. A small jewelers bag of a clear liquid was also found inside the vehicle and tested positive for Methamphetamine.


Land was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, possession of cocaine, possession of narcotic equipment, and driving on a suspended license. Land was transported and booked into the Walton County Jail. 


Rosemary Beach, Fla— A 27-year-old Walton County man is behind bars after admitting to WCSO deputies he was “high on Xanax” and running from law enforcement while he and his associates burglarized neighborhoods in Rosemary Beach.

 Jeremy Ray Thomas of Inlet Beach told WCSO investigators on the night of July 30th he was with multiple other individuals who he knew were checking door handles of vehicles, “rummaging” through vehicles, checking door handles of residence, and burglarizing houses in the area of West Water Street. A resident called 911 after she says she had a suspicious encounter with someone who had broken into her pool deck.  

Thomas admitted in a post Miranda interview to jumping a fence or gate and being present in the back of a residence, which had a pool.  Thomas was arrested by WCSO and charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling after a positive ID was made during a photo line-up with the victim. Thomas was transported to the Walton County Jail.  

Walton County Sheriff’s Office is committed to the apprehension of those committing burglaries and other crimes in our jurisdiction. However, we encourage residents to please remember to HIDE your things, LOCK your car, and TAKE your keys to avoid becoming a victim to these crimes of opportunity. 

DeFuniak Springs, Fla— Just before 3:30PM Wednesday July 29th deputies responded to a home on Popcorn Avenue in DeFuniak Springs in reference to a domestic dispute.


When deputies arrived on scene the complainant, Crystal York, 37, was observed acting erratically and told investigators the suspect, Rodney Svetlik, 42, had fled on foot.


York gave permission for deputies to search the premises and further investigation revealed methamphetamine inside the home along with equipment and tools used to manufacture meth. A small amount of marijuana was also found inside the residence.


Svetlik was found walking along the roadside shortly after and was put into custody.


Svetlik and York were arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine, manufacturing meth, possession of less than 20g of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.


No charges were filed for domestic battery due to lack of evidence. Svetlik did, however, receive an additional charge of introduction of contraband for having marijuana on his person when he was turned over to the jail.

Walton County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco performed an underage buy operation for the sale of alcohol to minors at several businesses in the county. The detail ran from 7:30pm to 10pm on July 22nd.

The following is a list of places WCSO and ABT conducted underage test buys on. Two buys were made from Wine World at Water Color and Tom Thumb Store #80. Eilene McGarey and Brian McGough were both given a Notice to Appear as a result of the operation.


10970 Hwy 98 Inlet Beach


10343 E. COUNTY HIGHWAY 30A KIOSK 1 Seacrest Beach


3871 E COUNTY HWY 30A Santa Rosa Beach


110 WATERCOLOR WAY Santa Rosa Beach



88 WATERCOLOR WAY Santa Rosa Beach


1735 EAST COUNTY HIGHWAY 30A Santa Rosa Beach
Positive buy Bottle of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay


2320 W COUNTY HIGHWAY 30A Santa Rosa Beach


5044 W COUNTY HWY 30A Santa Rosa Beach
Positive Buy 4 pack Coors Light


7930 WEST COUNTY HWY 30A Santa Rosa Beach


Walton County Sheriff’s Office is proud of the businesses in our area and we are happy to report the majority were in compliance of the law. We want to make sure as we get closer to the beginning of the school year that the proper steps are taken to ensure alcohol does not end up in the hands of minors.