Category Archives: Crime

Daraja Adero Tinsley: DeBary suspect has criminal past

Daraja Adero Tinsley, a suspected Ormond Beach cell-phone store robber caught in DeBary last week after a chase, has been accused of similar crimes in the past, records show.

Tinsley was charged in 2015, along with 15 others, in a high-profile crackdown of two Orlando street gangs targeting cell-phone stores.

The gangs, One-Way Boyz and Young Cutthroats, stole phones and other devices tethered to displays, according to Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.

The suspects involved in the AT&T robbery at  Slayton Wireless at 374 W. Granada Boulevard on Aug. 29 allegedly pushed a clerk and ripped phones off a display.


Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood spotted their getaway car and law enforcers chased it until it crashed in DeBary.

Tinsley ran but was eventually taken down by a K-9 unit. The other two suspects — Wendell Harp, 18, and Sheldric J. Slater, 19 — gave up. No previous criminal charges in Florida could be found Saturday for Harp and  Slater.

Tinsley, however, was on community supervision for the 2015 case when he was arrested in DeBary.

Records in Orange County show an arrest affidavit for violation of probation was filed for Tinsley in that case.

Tinsley was charged with one count of racketeering and one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering on Nov.  4, 2015. At the time, Bondi’s office said Tinsley and each of the other co-defendants faced as much as 60 years in prison.

Tinsley pleaded no contest on May 12, 2016 and was found guilty of both charges.  He was sentenced to four years of community supervision, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

Records show he was previously sentenced to two years of community supervision for crimes in Polk County including burglary and trespassing.

He was sentenced in July 2014 to two years of community supervision for a grand theft charge in Orange County, records show.

In his most recent case, Tinsley is charged with fleeing, resisting an officer without violence, grand theft, robbery and grand theft valued at $300 or more but less than $5,000.

Harp is charged with grand theft valued at $300 or more but less than $5,000 and robbery.

Slater is charged with grand theft valued at $300 or more but less than $5,000, robbery and giving a false name to law enforcement.


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DeBary crash after chase ends with 3 arrests

An urgent voice crackled over the airwaves.

“They’re getting off at Dirksen. They’re getting off at Dirksen.”

Minutes later, three suspects – accused Ormond Beach cell-phone store robbers  — roared off Interstate 4 and crashed in DeBary as a Volusia County Sheriff’s Office chopper captured the action.

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood spotted the suspects’ vehicle — a white Dodge — heading south on Interstate 95.

Daraja Adero Tinsley
Sheldric J Slater
Wendell Harp

Cops were looking for the vehicle after three suspects robbed an AT&T store in Ormond Beach on Aug. 29.

The store’s clerk was shoved into a counter and several iPhones were stolen.

Chitwood spotted the getaway vehicle and called in a description and tag number.

The driver refused to stop for a traffic stop. Chitwood radioed in that it failed to stop and started to flee on Interstate 4 heading west.

“Sheriff Chitwood authorized a vehicle pursuit for his agency and pursued the vehicle with marked VCSO Deputy Sheriffs car and FHP marked patrol car,” a report said.

Chitwood said the vehicle then got off at Dirksen Drive heading west.

“The vehicle then crashed near Dirksen Drive/Grande Vista Street. The three occupants of the vehicle then started to run on foot from within the vehicle,” the report said.

Deputies told them to stop – but only two did: Wendell Harp, 18, and Sheldric J. Slater, 19.

Daraja Adero Tinsley, 20,  ran, according to a report and chopper video.

Deputies with two K-9 police dogs later took Tinsley later down near Dirksen and Agua Vista drives in DeBary.” A report said he was taken for medical treatment but details were not released.

A report said he was taken for medical treatment but details were not released.

All three remained at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach on Saturday.

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Dwayne L. Taylor fraud conviction: Volusia pol faces possible prison sentence


Today’s wire-fraud conviction of Volusia County politician Dwayne L. Taylor shows federal officials are taking a tough stance against corruption, officials said.
The 49-year-old former state representative from Daytona Beach used $60,000 in re-election campaign donations for personal expenses, a federal indictment said.
“These types of crimes erode the public trust in our elected officials,” Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow said in a statement. “This conviction sends a clear message that such acts will not be tolerated and that we will hold anyone who breaks the law accountable for their actions.”
Taylor is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives and Daytona Beach City Commission.
A federal jury in Orlando convicted Taylor today on nine counts of wire fraud.
He faces as much as 20 years in prison per count. His sentencing is set for Nov. 16.
“According to evidence presented at trial, during Taylor’s 2012 and 2014 reelection campaigns, he falsely reported thousands of dollars of expenditures to the State of Florida in order to conceal his misappropriation of over $60,000 in campaign funds through a series of unreported cash withdrawals, checks written to himself, and checks written to petty cash, in violation of Florida law. Taylor then used the misappropriated funds for personal expenditures unrelated to his re-election campaigns,” a news release from Muldrow’s office says.
Candidates are not allowed to use campaign donations for personal expenses other than “expenses actually incurred for transportation, meals, and lodging during travel in the course of the campaign.”
Taylor left the state House last year because of term limits, said.
His district spanned a section of Volusia County between DeLand and Daytona Beach.
Taylor lost in the Democratic primary for District 6 in Congress in 2016, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The FBI investigated his spending for his 2012 and 2014 reelection campaigns.
“It is disappointing that an elected official would exploit the generosity of his constituents to advance his personal lifestyle,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “Corrupt public officials undermine the integrity of our government and violate the public’s trust, which is why combating public corruption remains the FBI’s top criminal priority.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roger B. Handberg and Embry J. Kidd are prosecuting Taylor.



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Teen gang suspect gets 6 years for DeBary shooting

A 15-year-old Sanford gang suspect was sentenced this week to six years in prison for a shooting a DeBary man in a random attack last year.

Thallas “Thump” Inman entered a guilty plea to a charge of attempted murder on Monday, according to Volusia County Courthouse records.

The September shooting in the Parkview Heights subdivision sent the victim to the hospital and left him with a limp. The attack on Pine Springs Drive happened sometime before 5:15 a.m. September 22, 2016.

Inman, who was 14 at the time of the attack, remains held without bond at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

He was also given credit for the 287 days he has already spent behind bars.

The victim, Kirk Thomas, told investigators he was about to leave for work when a vehicle pulled up behind him in the driveway and an armed suspect got out.

Thomas said he charged at the suspect when he realized he was armed.

Thomas later told reporters he was shot three times. He ran to a neighbor’s home and banged on their front door seeking help, according to an arrest report. Neighbors rushed to help.

The suspects drove away, prompting a search and investigation by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

At one point in the investigation, an acquaintance of Inman told investigators that Inman and two other alleged gang members had originally intended to rob a drug dealer, according to an Orlando Sentinel report.

But the drug dealer didn’t show up as planned.

So the suspects decided to find another victim, a report said.

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Clay Curtsinger case: Drop DeBary man’s murder charge, attorney says

Charges against a DeBary man accused of murder should be dropped, his attorney argued in paperwork filed in Orlando this week.

Clay Curtsinger, 47, is accused of gunning down his girlfriend’s ex-husband in a neighborhood near the Orlando International Airport last month.

Curtsinger initially told investigators he fatally shot Jack Radke on Budworth Circle in self-defense.

Deputies found Curtsinger’s gun but no firearm was found with Radke.

Curtsinger’s attorney, David R. Damore of Daytona Beach, filed a two-page motion to dismiss the case on Thursday (August 17). The attorney raised eight reasons for dismissal, including  “facts that support the Defendant’s immunity from prosecution.”

Damore filed other motions, including one aimed at tossing Curtsinger’s statements to investigators.

Curtsinger gunned down Radke, 48, with a Taurus 9mm handgun at roughly 6:30 p.m. Friday (July 7) on Budworth Circle in the Eagle Creek subdivision in the Lake Nona area, his arrest affidavit states.

Curtsinger, while driving a white Dodge Ram pickup truck, pulled next to a white Ford van and immediately shot Radke, the affidavit said.

Curtsinger told 911 callers he shot Radke because he pulled a gun on him and was defending himself, the report says.

He was originally accused of first-degree murder. The Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office officially charged Curtsinger with second-degree murder.

People convicted of second-degree murder in Florida are not eligible for the death penalty. The maximum sentence for that crime is life in prison.

Curtsinger remains jailed without bond at the Orange Couty Jail.

Records show he’s entered a written plea of not guilty.

A pretrial conference in the case is set for Oct. 17.

Seven spent shell casings and the 9mm were found inside Curtsinger’s pickup truck. Radke was shot six times.

Radke’s ex-wife, Carla Radke, said they got divorced about four years ago, officials said.

She said she recently developed a relationship with Curtsinger, an old boyfriend, and they opened a joint checking account.

She said Curtsinger was at her house pressure washing her house before the shooting.

curtsinger motion to dismiss

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DeBary vandalism: Genuine Bistro savors support after window smashing

At first, the reaction in DeBary was outrage and surprise.

But the community quickly rallied behind  Genuine Bistro, offering cash and other forms of support after vandals smashed a window at the popular restaurant on U.S. Highway 17-92.

Then it took another positive turn when Genuine Bistro owner Olexiy Kuzmin proposed using the cash donations for another residents’ effort to help feed the needy.

The support surfaced Sunday as word spread about the as-yet-unsolved vandalism at 2 S. Charles Richard Beall Blvd. from the pro-community Facebook page DeBary Proud. Tipsters can contact authorities through these links or by calling 1-888-277-TIPS.

“I am so sorry this happened, what a disgrace, ” Vickii Davies-De Marco said in a post Saturday shortly after the crime was announced.

One Facebook user, Denise Glickler, was so moved, she set up a GoFundMe page to raise donations to help Kuzmin pay for repairs.

He thanked Glickler but asked her to close the fund-raising site.

“Our customers (have)  been very loyal and supportive to us for years and I really don’t think it’s necessary. I really appreciate it,” he wrote. “But I really don’t feel like (collecting) money from people for our building issues. I am still DeBaryProud and I know that a lot of people in our community have more problems (than) our broken window. Thank you so much for your support again.”

By the time she got the message, more than $140 had been raised toward the fund’s goal of $500.

“Greg Runge will receive this check for his new project of feeding homeless people in our area,” Kuzmin said in another post.

Kuzmin posted video from security cameras showing possible suspects but the images don’t reveal many details. Facebook responders posted theories about who was responsible.

“There are 2 boys that run the street constantly with no supervision,” said Keri Kay. “The one is super skinny and taller the other shorter and a little thicker. .. The VCSO knows them very well…”

Meanwhile, other Facebook posters offered comforting words and introspective thoughts.

“This is not a reflection of DeBary, nor the times we live in,” Vera Rekstad said. “This is sadly the perpetual dark and ugly side of human nature which exists everywhere on earth and in all times since the beginning of history. We must overcome it and counter it with good. It’s great to see so much positive support for our friends and neighbors.”

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‘Scumbags’ in DeBary elder crimes tracked down in N.C., Sheriff says

A woman accused of stealing her elderly DeBary grandparents’ Toyota Corolla and two alleged accomplices were tracked down in North Carolina today, deputies said.

Mary Hall and two men — both suspects in other DeBary crimes – were stopped in the stolen vehicle in North Carolina amid Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood’s ongoing “Scumbags of the Week” campaign.

They ripped off Hall’s grandparents, Chitwood said.  Hall and Albert Blackburn II were arrested. Matthew Hall ran and remained on the loose early Friday evening.

The Halls used to be married, according to WESH Channel 2.

“All three are suspects in an elderly exploitation case in DeBary, where an 81-year-old woman and her 91-year-old husband were victimized and intimidated to the point that they were unable to buy medication or pay their bills,” Sheriff’s Office spokesman Andrew Gant said in an email.

Chitwood called the men “Scumbags” on Thursday, generating media coverage and an anonymous tip that led authorities to the trio.

Matthew Hall and Blackburn are also accused in a burglary/dealing in stolen property case in the same DeBary neighborhood, Gant said.

“The trio was riding in the stolen Corolla when police conducted a traffic stop on them in North Carolina,” Gant added. “Matthew Hall took off running and is still being sought. Blackburn was arrested on his outstanding Volusia County warrant and Mary Hall was charged with auto theft as she was in possession of a stolen vehicle.”

 The case is active and other charges are pending.

“The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office extends its sincere appreciation to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, St. Pauls Police Department and every person who submits a tip or clicks “share” on the VCSO’s SCUMBAGS of the Week,” Gant’s statement added.
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Clay Curtsinger update: Murder suspect from DeBary officially charged

Clay Curtsinger, a DeBary man accused in an Orange County slaying, has been officially charged with second-degree murder, records show.

Curtsinger, 47, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend’s ex-husband in a Lake Nona-area subdivision on July 7.

The Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office filed paperwork last week officially charging Curtsinger with second-degree murder.

That means, if convicted, Curtsinger could face life in prison as a maximum sentence.

Defendants convicted of first-degree murder in Florida could face life in prison or execution, though the current top prosecutor in that region, State Attorney Aramis Ayala, said in an unrelated case that she opposes the death penalty.

It’s not unusual for the initial charges recommended by law enforcement officials and the official charges filed by prosecutors to be different. In fact, prosecutors can change the charges, either upgrading or downgrading, depending on what evidence has been uncovered or is lacking.

The difference between first-degree and second-degree murder in Florida boils down to intent, the Orlando Sentinel said in an unrelated article.

First degree requires premeditation. Second degree is often seen as a “heat-o-passion” crime, the Sentinel said.

Curtsinger remains jailed without bond at the Orange Couty Jail.

Records show he’s entered a written plea of not guilty. He originally told investigators he was defending himself when he fatally shot Jack Radke, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Curtsinger gunned down Radke, 48, with a Taurus 9mm handgun at roughly 6:30 p.m. Friday (July 7) on Budworth Circle in the Eagle Creek subdivision in the Lake Nona area, his arrest affidavit states.

Curtsinger, while driving a white Dodge Ram pickup truck, pulled next to a white Ford van and immediately shot the driver, Radke, the affidavit said.

Curtsinger told 911 callers he shot Radke because he pulled a gun on him and was defending himself, the report says.

Deputies didn’t find a gun in Radke’s van.

Seven spent shell casings and the 9mm were found inside Curtsinger’s pickup truck. Radke was shot six times.

Radke’s ex-wife, Carla Radke, said they got divorced about four years ago, officials said. She said she recently developed a relationship with Curtsinger, an old boyfriend, and they opened a joint checking account.

She said Curtsinger was at her house pressure washing her driveway.  At one point, Curtsinger left in his pickup, only to return a few minutes later to retrieve his concealed weapons permit from the wallet he left behind, the report said.

“Clay Curtsinger told Carla Radke that he just shot “Jack” and he left on foot towards Budworth Circle,” the affidavit states.

Carla Radke lives on Davenham Point, 240 feet away from the shooting site, records show.

Arrest affidavit

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DeBary’s crime drops but school safety concerns persist

Crime is down in DeBary, despite a rash of car burglaries, and the River City is prepared for natural disasters. But concern remains about safety at the city’s only public school: DeBary Elementary.

Those were among the highlights of City Council member Stephen Bacon’s town hall meeting last week about public safety.

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

“The budget is unlimited when it comes to people’s lives and property,” Bacon said Tuesday (July 18). “Some of these kids in grammar school could be 6 feet tall at 10 years old.”

In recent weeks, Bacon has raised concerns about safety at DeBary Elementary. He referenced the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adults.

“It was horrible,” Bacon said. “If there’s one incident, I mean, that is a good reason why we should have” a school resource officer.


Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, one of the speakers at the town hall, agreed.

“If I had my way, I’d put a deputy in every school,” Chitwood said. “It’s just not physically feasible to do that.”

He noted that when he was police chief of Daytona Beach, he snagged a grant to pay for officers in all 10 schools in the city. But the grant runs out at the end of next year. It would cost $1.6 million to keep up the same level of staffing, said Chitwood, who took office as sheriff in January.

Bacon didn’t say how a school resource officer at DeBary Elementary school might be funded. The city already faces an increase this year in its public safety budget.

Public safety costs rise

Public safety costs for the city are projected to increase to $5.54 million, an increase of $444,393. That includes fire services, law-enforcement protection and a portion of the debt for the new $2 million fire station.

The amount proposed for fire services, $1,739,683, is a nearly 30 percent increase. The amount proposed for the Sheriff’s Office is $3.49 million, a 32 percent increase.

City staffers are proposing to use $816,000 from reserves to balance this year’s budget.

The contracts with Orange City for fire services and with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services.

Chitwood: Crime is down

Chitwood said crime is down 20 percent during the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2016, though car burglaries have been “really big here.” The city’s proximity to Interstate 4 makes it a target for criminals looking for “crimes of opportunity,” Chitwood added.

“We’re on the I-4 corridor. They’re getting off and, as the councilman will tell you, they went into his subdivision and they went through that place like Sherman went through Atlanta,” Chitwood said. Bacon became a crime victim in April when a suspect got into his gated subdivison – River Oaks – and stole his convertible Corvette. 

It was recovered two hours later in Sanford.  Other communities in DeBary have been hit by car burglars seeking unlocked vehicles.

A man from Sanford is accused of car burglaries in Glen Abbey and DeBary Golf and Country Club. Chitwood says technology will help deputies fight crime.

DeBary’s proposed budget for next year includes a $70,000 request from Chitwood for two, fixed-location license-plate readers, as well as a third moveable reader.

The readers constantly scan license plates and they send alerts to deputies if the device detects anything flagged in national or state crime databases, like stolen plates, Chitwood said.

Official: Overprepare

Emergency managers, meanwhile, say DeBary and Volusia County are ready for disasters but residents need to be active participants and obey evacuation orders.

“The biggest thing you need to do is prepare your family,” said another speaker, Tom Cisco, operations coordinator for Volusia County Emergency Management. “Talk to your family about what hazards are going to affect you. And not just hurricanes. We always talk about hurricanes but there are a lot of hazards in this county that can affect you.”

DeBary Safety Coordinator Alan Williamson, also the city’s public works director, said “it’s better to overprepare than underprepare.”

“DeBary doesn’t necessarily need to evacuate. But depending on the storm, if you are in a manufactured home, you want may want to think about evacuating,” Williamson said.

The city is prepared for a range of disasters, he said.

“As far as the city, we have a comprehensive emergency management plan,” Williamson said. “We don’t plan just for hurricanes. We plan for all hazards. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Sinkholes. Wildfires.”


DeBary will stream Stephen Bacon’s public-safety town hall meeting

DeBary residents are encouraged to attend next week’s town hall meeting about public safety hosted by City Council member Stephen Bacon.

Stephen Bacon
Stephen Bacon

Or they can watch Tuesday’s gathering with Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood and other officials from the comfort of their living rooms.

For that matter, anyone with a connection to the internet will have the ability to tune into the meeting, which will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 18, at City Hall, 16 Columba Road.


A majority of DeBary City Council members recently agreed to stream the town hall meeting at Bacon’s request much like they do for their meetings and workshops. But it wasn’t an easy sell.

The stream will have a disclaimer notifying viewers that the town hall isn’t an official meeting of the DeBary City Council, members said Wednesday, July 12.

Generally, the only meetings streamed on city equipment involves the City Council.

Brady: Streaming a ‘disservice’ to Chitwood

City Council member Mike Brady was against streaming Bacon’s public-safety meeting, saying it would encourage people to stay home instead of attending. Sheriff Chitwood, he said, deserves an audience.

Mike Brady
Mike Brady

“I think we’ve seen a decrease in attendance at our meetings because streaming is available, and people stay in the comforts of their home to watch the streaming as opposed to coming to a meeting,” Brady said. “I think it would be a disservice to our sheriff to do the streaming and him stand up here and talk to an empty room, and I think showing our

Lita Handy-Peters
Lita Handy-Peters

support as a city by attending is more appropriate than streaming it out and talking, again, to an empty room. The optics of it is what I don’t like.”

City Council member Lita Handy-Peters, who also serves as vice mayor, expressed discomfort about streaming, even with a disclaimer.

“If you’re gonna stream it, even if you put the disclaimer up there, it is a reflection of the council. It will be,” Handy-Peters said.

Garcia: Public wants meetings streamed

City Council member Erika Benfield suggested the meeting could be streamed on Facebook Live, as she has done during recent business-development workshops. But she agreed the city could do it after learning a staff member is already planning to volunteer his time to help Bacon with the equipment.

Mayor Bob Garcia said he’s heard from residents who like watching live streams, siding with Bacon and Benfield while empathizing with Brady.

“Mr. Brady you brought up a good point. People are not coming here, maybe by us doing that — not allowing the streaming — we’re doing a disservice to the residents and we’re not really saying we are supporting our sheriff’s department by not providing it to them.”

Garcia said he appreciated Brady’s concerns.

“I’m sorry. I need to get this out to the public. They’ve been asking for it,” Garcia said. “For us not to show it, to me, it would give the perception that we’re doing things behind their backs.”

Chitwood: Crime is down in DeBary

Bacon, in a recent email to the public, said his town hall “may be the most important meeting in the history of Debary since formation 24 years ago.”

“I have the honor of hosting this meeting on Crime and Safety to help you protect your family and your property,” Bacon wrote.

In a visit to the DeBary City Council in June, Chitwood said crime dropped 20 percent in the River City during the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2016. Still, crime concerns remain.

Bacon, for instance, in April had his red, convertible Chevrolet Corvette stolen from his gated waterfront community, River Oaks. It was recovered two hours later in Sanford.

Then, in May, a DeBary woman’s car was stolen while she was pumping gas into it at the Kangaroo station at U.S. Highway 17-92 and Dirksen Drive on Thursday.

In June, four suspects, all from Sanford, drove to DeBary in a stolen pickup, committed a rash of car burglaries in DeBary Golf and Country Club and Glen Abbey and then stole another pickup, records say.
Other speakers
Bacon’s town-hall lineup also includes Orange City Fire Chief Ronnie Long. DeBary contracts with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services and contracts with Orange City for fire protection.
Tom Cisco, an operations official for Volusia County Emergency Management and Alan Williamson, DeBary’s safety coordinator, are also scheduled to attend.
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