Category Archives: weird

Christopher Langer’s dad in 2011: “My son is a drug addict”

Six years ago, when his son was facing a possible prison sentence for drug-trafficking charges, Scott Langer of DeBary appealed to a judge for leniency.

“My son is a drug addict,” the elder Langer said of then 24-year-old Christopher Langer. “He is a new father, and he has a good heart. He is not a violent person, and would not hurt a flea. But he is a drug addict.”

Christopher Langer, now 31, remains at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach as an investigation continues into the explosives and containers of bodily fluids found in the house he shares with his parents in Saxon Woods.

Mass Destruction

Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood told TV reporters that Langer was building a weapon of mass destruction and wanted to harm first responders.

Langer rigged a SpongeBob SquarePants lunch box as a booby trap in the backyard, Chitwood said.

Investigators also found a metal pineapple-style grenade with a paperclip in place to hold the lever and keep it from exploding.

They also found a booby-trap in the backyard covered by a toy.

Chitwood said Langer has been involuntarily committed four times under the state’s Baker Act. He described the suspect as an anti-government heroin addict.

Two weeks ago, deputies responded to the same home and administered two antidotes after Langer overdosed on heroin.

Domestic Disturbance

A domestic disturbance that started Sunday led to the discovery of an array of potentially explosive devices and substances, prompting a bomb squad response that lasted through the night and into Monday morning.

Volusia County sheriff’s deputies, detectives, Hazmat units from Volusia County and Deltona fire departments and members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms responded.

Deputies arrived at 124 Bradwick Circle around 4:11 p.m. Sunday in response to an argument between Langer and his parents. During the argument, an intoxicated Langer told his parents he had put an explosive substance inside a grenade.

Langer initially denied the grenade existed. But then he acknowledged he had thrown it outside, showing it to the deputy. The deputy found a metal pineapple-style grenade with a paperclip in place to hold the lever and keep it from exploding.

Deputies evacuated the house and began an investigation and obtained a search warrant. About 200 containers were found in the house containing unknown powders, acids and other materials.

Many of them (about 79) have been placed into a containment area, and many have been determined not to be bomb-making materials but bodily fluids.

A bomb robot used to examine a hole in the back yard discovered a small explosive device, and a second possible explosive device was found in a lunchbox.

Some neighboring homes in the area were evacuated in the initial stages of the call, but those residents returned to their homes Sunday evening.

Back in Jail

Langer has been charged with making/possessing a destructive device and was transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he was being held Sunday morning on $5,000 bail. (Note: that bail was later revoked by a judge.)

Two additional charges stemming from an August case involving Langer were added. He is accused of stealing a laptop and generator from his father and pawning the items for drug money. The additional pre-trial release charges are for grand theft and dealing in stolen property.

In April 2011, he entered no-contest pleas to charges of attempting to obtain controlled substance by fraud and possession of Scheduled II substance. Both are third-degree felonies.

He was placed on two years drug offender probation and ordered to complete a treatment diversion program. He was discharged from the program after two months for drinking alcohol.  He was also back into the program and completed it in October 2012.

A judge terminated his probation that month.

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Dead people quoted for DeBary Hall ‘haunted history’ story

Dead people are quoted in a questionable online article that attempts to recast the history of DeBary Hall as one with a legacy of spooky happenings.

Ghosts are not part of the standard narrative of the historic property managed by Volusia County except in October for Halloween-themed candlelight tours.

[os-widget path=”/kevinconnolly2/is-debary-hall-haunted” of=”kevinconnolly2″ comments=”false”]

“The tours are designed to startle and activate the imagination,” the county said in a news release.

The article by Robin Peroldo, released just before Halloween with a black and white photo of DeBary Hall, does not include any direct quotes from anyone to support the writer’s premise that “plenty” of people have scary stories about DeBary Hall.

New York City wine importer Frederick deBary arrived in the area in 1870 and built DeBary Hall a year later for a winter retreat offering hunting and fishing off the St. Johns River.

The article lists two sources for the article published on Oct. 21: A 1997 article by former Orlando Sentinel Volusia County columnist Bo Poertner and a 2001 book by now-deceased author Jack Powell titled Haunting Sunshine. 

Dead Sources

The article repeats information from Poertner’s column, including quotes from two people who died since his column was published. There’s no indication in the text of the article clearly stating that key two sources, Don Valente and Rocky Beall, were quoted by Poertner two decades ago. Valente and Beall are now dead.

“DeBary Hall is renowned as being haunted and there are plenty of personal accounts to go around,” Robin Peroldo wrote.

To support that premise,  Peroldo requotes Valente, an area supervisor for Volusia County parks and recreation who once claimed to have felt a presence in the house during one of his visits. “Just walking inside has an eeriness to it. One time I went through the house with nobody there, and the doors opened by themselves, or they closed — and I mean slammed. And this was on a calm day.’’

Valente died in 2014.

‘Friendly Spirits’

Rochelle ”Rocky” Beall moved into the mansion’s caretaker house on 1996 Halloween night and stayed for several months, according to Poertner’s column and Peroldo’s article.

Although she didn’t see anything suspicious at the mansion, Rocky Beall said she too believes it is haunted.

”I believe there’s friendly spirits there, yeah,” she is quoted as saying. ”Just because it’s such a magic place. It’s so beautiful, I would never want to leave there.”

That’s another direct quote from Poertner’s column. Beall died in 2003, according to her obituary.

The article does not include a key detail from  Poertner’s column. Beall’s father didn’t believe the ghost stories.

Jesse Beall was the city’s historian before his death in 2011.

Similar Passages

Then there’s the similarity between Peroldo’s copy and  Powell’s book. Peroldo wrote:

“A Canadian writer once asked permission to spend the night at DeBary Hall. Although her request was denied she managed to sneak on the grounds to spend the night on the porch. Late that night she woke to a faint vibration within the floor beneath her. A loud moan sounded from within a few feet of her. She turned to look, and saw a ” ‘pale, fleet movement through the window, gone before I could define it.’ ”

This is how it is written in Powell’s book:

“A Canadian writer once asked permission to spend the night in the house. She didn’t get it, but she did slip onto the grounds one night and sleep on the veranda. Late that night she woke to a faint vibration within the floor beneath her. A loud moan sounded from within a few feet of her. She turned to look, and saw a ‘pale, fleet movement through the window, gone before I could define it.’ ”

Two Books

Powell died at his Lakeland home from heart failure on Sept. 8, 2010., according to his obituary in the Lakeland Ledger.

“He loved to write and published two books in his lifetime,” the obit said.

The other book was Time Traveler’s Guide to Florida.

Haunting Sunshine was mocked in a March 4, 2001 review in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Coat on Girl?

David Money’s article ran under the headline Haunting Ranks Low on Boo-Meter.

“Powell asked people in DeBary if DeBary Hall is haunted. He was told it was not,” the article said. “But Powell did a little research and found out about someone seeing a girl on the second floor. Get this — the girl was wearing a coat that should have been downstairs in a closet at the time it was seen on the girl.”

“Shudder,” Money added.

‘Eerie feeling’

The story appears to be a variation of a story recounted in Poertner’s 1997 column and attributed to a man identified as Pete Scovone. A man with the same name and similar age who used to live in Deltona later died in California, records show.

“Pete Scovone was trimming trees at DeBary Hall when he suddenly had the eerie feeling that someone was watching him,” the Poertner column said. “He looked up at the old mansion and saw a young girl in a dark coat looking down at him from a second-story window.”

In his review of Powell’s book, Money wrote that Powell credited newspaper stories for his research, adding that he attempted to contact journalists.

“Oddly, no member of the Florida press has ever returned a call or note from me,” Powell wrote.

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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DeBary dog killer arrested for violations amid ‘cleansing ritual,’ records show


A DeBary man convicted of animal cruelty in the hanging death of his mom’s Chihuahua last year is behind bars again.

David Rivera, 25, is the man who underwent a “cleansing ritual” last month through the beheading sacrifice of chickens and other animals, records show.

No one was arrested for the sacrifice. But Rivera is on community control for the dog’s death and he was recently arrested for three probation violations.

Rivera is accused of failing to check in with his probation officer twice and moving without notifying officials.

He denied violating his probation during a hearing May 31, records show.

“The defendant is unstable and a threat to society,” a probation officer wrote in a report.

Rivera is being held without bond at the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach.

A violation of probation hearing is set for June 21 before Circuit Court Judge James R. Clayton in DeLand.

Animal cruelty

Rivera entered a plea of no contest to a felony charge of animal cruelty after he was accused of hanging his mom’s dog in April 2016.

He was sentenced to five years of probation, according to records at the Volusia County Courthouse.

The attack on the dog happened April 14, 2016. Deputies were called to a home on Dirksen Drive about 11 a.m. that day.

Rivera’s mother told deputies she and her son had been arguing about his unemployment. She told him he would have to leave if he didn’t get a job, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said at the time.

During the argument, Rivera climbed an oak tree and hanged her 5-year-old male Chihuahua using a metal dog chain.

He then climbed about 30 feet up the same tree and threatened to hang himself. Deputies and the Sheriff’s Office Hostage Negotiation Team responded.

He gave up peacefully and came down after 8 hours.

‘Cleansing of bad spirits’

Last month, Rivera failed to check in with his probation officer, prompting officials to look for him.

Two probation officers went to his last known address — the house on Dirksen Drive — on May 16 and found Rivera with blood on his head, a report said.

“This officer inquired about the blood and was told he and other family friends were conducting a spiritual/ritual ceremony,” a report said. The ceremony involved “a cleansing of bad spirits and talking to the dead” and sacrifice of chickens.

Rivera led his probation officer to the place where the ritual cleansing was performed, according to

Numerous headless animals were found, along with family members, where the ritual was performed, an incident report said.

A bicyclist called 911 after finding a bin with these beheaded animals: five chickens, two pigeons, one goat and one turtle.

Rivera was involuntarily committed for a mental evaluation under the state’s Baker Act on May 17 after calling a probation officer and saying he wanted to kill himself.

Call to Rivera

On May 23, after Rivera missed another probation check-in, a probation officer went to the house on Dirksen Drive. No one answered then or during a second attempt that evening.

The officer went to a neighbor’s house, where the resident called Rivera while the officer stood by.

The officer spoke over the phone with Rivera, who said he “does not and cannot live” at the house on Dirksen Drive and has been staying with a friend.  The officer told Rivera to check-in at the probation office the next day, which he did.

He told the officer he had been living in a tent in Gemini Springs Park, an unverified claim. He also asked the officer if he could hear his thoughts.

The probation officer requested an arrest warrant for Rivera, saying he twice missed probation-office appointments and moved somewhere without notification.

David Rivera

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Brain-eating amoeba season returns to Florida

You’ve been warned.  Brain-eating amoeba season has returned to Florida.

The unrelenting heat of summer in Florida gives the deadly single-celled organism Naegleria fowleri ideal conditions to thrive in bodies of freshwater in the Sunshine State.

And with summer break right around the corner, chances are that more people, including kids, will be seeking relief from the heat during the next few months by popping into local lakes.

If you do,  keep your head out of the water, experts say.

The best way to avoid infection is to avoid freshwater water during the summer.

The organisms can travel of human nasal passages, where they get easy access to the nervous system.

It consumes nervous-system tissue, causing a disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, or PAM.

Every case of PAM in Florida as been fatal.

The Florida Department of Health recently reminded the public about the threat from the organism.

Naegleria fowleri

Naegleria fowleri

The reminder was issued to coincide with Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, which runs from May 22 to May 28..

“As temperatures rise in Florida, swimming becomes a popular part of an ideal summer day,” said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. Celeste Philip said in a statement. “To keep those days spent in the water carefree and fun, I encourage families to take precautions to ensure the water is safe and that an adult is keeping an eye on inexperienced swimmers at all times.”


DeBary animals decapitated in ‘ritual cleansing’

The animals found decapitated last week in DeBary were sacrificed as a “cleansing ritual,” news organizations are reporting.

Nine headless animals were discovered in a bin near Tom’s Road last week.

News organizations say family members killed the animals “to cleanse the man of schizophrenic thoughts.”

That’s according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, which is not charging anyone.

A goat, a turtle, five chickens and two pigeons were killed.




DeBary’s animal beheadings: Five other local animal stories

You would think of bin of beheaded animals would fill a Florida town’s weird quota for a good long time. But the River City has a sporadic legacy of unusual animal encounters.

A woman riding her bike on Toms Road in DeBary last week spotted a recycling bin filled with decapitated animals.

“I didn’t get real close to it, but I know there was a goat and a chicken and they were all missing their heads, which I thought was kind of strange,” the woman said in a 911 call.

That wasn’t DeBary’s first brush with animal oddities. (Random bear sightings not included.)

March 2017 A woman walking her dog stumbled across a pack of coyotes — all in an area where cats had vanished, according to Orlando’s WOFL FOX 35.

March 2017 A rattlesnake bit Tampa resident Elijah Vaughn, then 5, while he and his family were at a relative’s house on Fort Florida Point Road, according to media reports.

2015 -A Super Bowl snack of five small alligators became a recipe for trouble for a DeBary man. The man was arrested and charged with possession and taking alligators without a proper tag, the Orlando Sentinel said.

1999 -Gemini Springs peacocks vanished from the county park.  The only evidence left behind: piles of feathers in four separate locations around the park, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal.

2007-  The big DeBary animal story this year was the hermaphrodite deer bagged by a DeBary man.

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