This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.
After more than three months the District 23 Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the shooting death of an individual investigating another death as homicide. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office was called in by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office to take over the investigation on Jan. 31 after the body of Ellie Marie Washtock was found in a World Golf Village condo by a 15-year-old son. Washtock identified as both a woman and a man, say Putnam authorities who are continuing working on the murder. If you have information, contact CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477. Washtock was looking into the case of Michelle O’Connell, whose death in 2010 was ruled a suicide. O’Connell reportedly shot herself as her boyfriend – a St. Johns Sheriff’s deputy – was in the next room. Questions about the case began almost immediately and the work of both the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was brought into question.
Flagler County commissioners have okayed a multi-million dollar operations center for the sheriff, but that’s two years down the road. In the meantime Sheriff Rick Staly says he needs space for the Sheriff’s Office after the building designated for his office had to be shut down because of mold issues. He’s looking at more space in the county courthouse and the commission is leaning in that direction. However Clerk of Court Tom Bexley is fighting that noting he’s short of space because of the sheriff’s personnel in the building. New county administrator Jerry Cameron says options are running out.
Putnam County’s Feed the Need program is looking for volunteer to help with a large garage sale this Friday and Saturday at Bramlitt’s Plumbing & Electric on State Road 19 in Palatka. The sale was set for last weekend but was scrubbed because of rain. Call 386-937-3862 to volunteer.
Reports of a swimmer in distress near Brown’s Landing on the St. Johns River Monday turned out to be false. Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Rescue and Southwest Volunteer Fire Department responded to the report with the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol eventually finding a swimmer but one who didn’t need assistance. Authorities note as weather heats up and more people are on the river, it’s a good time to remember to keep an eye out for fellow boaters and swimmers.
A grand jury in Flagler County indicted Marion Gavins Jr. on a first-degree murder with a firearm charge Friday. Gavins, 17, will be tried as an adult after allegedly shooting high school track and field star Curtis Gray, 18, on April 13. The shooting recently brought out hundreds to remember Gray and urge people to work against violence.
Longtime cattleman Woody Tilton has died. Tilton was part of the ranching tradition in Putnam County and surrounding areas, a man practically born in the saddle.
A retired Ormond Beach police officer was arrested Sunday in Flagler County after being involved in a crash at U.S. 1 and Seminole Woods. Brenton M. Hodge, 55, reportedly showed his badge to Flagler deputies who thanked him for his service, but kept asking questions about the smell of booze in his car. Hodge told them he had take n his trash out earlier and the bag had a lot of beer cans some of which spilled. Asked why the smell of alcohol was on his breath Hodge said he had no idea but did say it could have happened during lunch. Reportedly more than 20 grams of marijuana were found after Hodge tried to put a bag under his clothes. He was arrested for DUI and faces other charges.
Remember the days of playing baseball just for the fun of it? People in Florahome do where they’ve started a Purely Recreational Softball program. It’s coed for adults 15 and up. You can take part Mondays and Thursdays by showing up at Florahome’s Palmetto Park. Only thing required – bring your glove, bat and ball.