The Voice of the Gem City

News April 28, 2022

This is Marcia Lane, your roving reporter.

St. Augustine Police are seeking people’s help to find a suspect who allegedly deliberately started a fire in the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. Detectives say the man put a container containing an inflaming such as oil or paint thinner between a chair and wall and lit it before heading out. Flames up to four feet high were extinguished by an employee and no one was injured. The museum was filled with people taking a tour, say officials. The man is described as wearing a blue hood, black glovers, a neck gaiter and a red backpack.

A man who tried to remove his Putnam County issued ankle monitor in Bunnell is in Flagler County jail awaiting return to Putnam’s jail. The Putnam Sheriff’s Office says Homer Wiggins Jr., 40, has repeatedly left Putnam in the last year after two felony warrants were issued for leaving the scene of a traffic crash involving death and injury on August 29 of last year in a wreck that killed a Crescent City man. On one of his unauthorized trips out of county he was arrested by the Panama City Police after being caught masturbating on an outside deck at a restaurant. His latest violation came after the GPS ankle monitor signaled he was in Bunnell and officers found him using a hacksaw to try and get the monitor off. He was next to the O’Reilly’s Auto Parts on North State Street where he had bought the hacksaw. First, he purchased a set of wire cutters from the store but when that didn’t work he returned them for the hacksaw. Deputies arrested him and took him to jail. 

Wiggins may see a new look at the Putnam jail if he returns. The Putnam Sheriff’s office is phasing out the familiar orange and zebra striped jumpsuits that identify inmate works. Inmates who work inside and outside the jail as well as those attending Insight, the recovery pod program, are going to the new uniforms which include slacks, a shirt with id and boots. The change is part of a program to help reduce recidivism and also encourages a tidy appearance, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The new clothing went into use this week and officials report a sense of pride among the inmates in gettin out of the jumpsuits.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers handled two accidents this morning — one in Putnam and the other in St. Johns County. A hit-and-run crash is under investigation at State Road 207 in Elkton. In St. Johns troopers are investigating a vehicle crash with injuries around 6:41 a.m. at Interstate 95 northbound and Mile Marker 318 outside of St. Augustine.

A Putnam County jury has voted for the death penalty sentence in the trial of a 38-year-old man convicted of murdering his step-grandmother in 2009. It was the second sentencing for Timothy Fletcher but this time the jury returned an unanimous verdict for his execution in the murder of Helen Googe. Fletcher was originally sentenced in 2012, but that jury split with a 8-4 decision in the death sentence penalty. The ruling was later overturned after Florida ruled  a death penalty decision had to be unanimous.

Palatka City Commission meets at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall. Among items on the agenda a request for a brownfield designation at several pieces of property including the former Wilson Cypress Company and Florida Furniture on River Street next to the South Historic District. The first public hearing is tonight, the second May 12.

The popular musical Hello Dolly! takes to the stage at C.L. Overturf Jr. Center tonight at 7:30 p.m. Palatka High School Musical Theatre presents the show with tickets available at Ralph’s House of Flowers and at the door. The show is this weekend and next.

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