Missing/runaway teen sought

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is still searching for 16-year-old Joanie Hailey Marie Sundquist.

Hailey Marie Sundquist. (CCSO-provided photo)

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is still searching for 16-year-old Joanie Hailey Marie Sundquist.

Joanie is 5’4” tall and 120 pounds, with black hair and blue eyes. Joanie was last seen wearing a cream-colored shirt and jeans.

She has a tattoo at the base of her throat of a heart, and a tattoo on her right calf of a steering wheel with the words,“Either one to guide me”. The photo on the right depicts how Joanie has altered her appearance since she ran away.

If you know her whereabouts, call (352) 726-1121 and ask for Major Crimes. To remain anonymous and possibly qualify for a reward, contact Citrus County Crime Stoppers @ 1-888-269-8477 or go to www.crimestopperscitrus.com.

CCSO seeks tips for suspect in Inverness-area vehicle burglaries

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help to identify a person captured on surveillance cameras who is alleged to have burglarized multiple vehicles in the Inverness area.

Surveillance photo of a man wanted by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office in connection with a string of vehicle burglaries in the Inverness area. (Courtesy photo)

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s help to identify a person captured on surveillance cameras who is alleged to have burglarized multiple vehicles in the Inverness area.

The Sheriff’s Office said the person of interest appears in surveillance photos to be a white male, with dark facial hair, and tattoos on both of his arms.

Tattoos are unidentified at this time, the CCSO said, but appear to extend down onto his left hand. (Please refer to the photo accompanying this news article).

If you have any information about this subject, call the CCSO’s non-emergency line at (352) 726-1121. You can also call Citrus County Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-888-ANY-TIPS and be eligible for a reward.

Kinnard speaks at Central Ridge Library

Citrus County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Jeff Kinnard will hold a Town Hall Meeting for the general public to attend on Thursday, Feb. 28.The meeting will be held at Central Ridge Library, located at 425 W. Roosevelt Blvd., Beverly Hills, Fl. 34465 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Citrus County Commissioner Jeff Kinnard

Citrus County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Jeff Kinnard will hold a Town Hall Meeting for the general public to attend on Thursday, Feb. 28.

The meeting will be held at Central Ridge Library, located at 425 W. Roosevelt Blvd., Beverly Hills, Fl. 34465 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Continue reading “Kinnard speaks at Central Ridge Library”

Citrus Springs Advisory Board openings

The Citrus County Board of County Commissioners is seeking applications for the Citrus Springs Advisory Board.

This Advisory Board is seeking two qualified regular members to complete two-year terms that will expire on January 31, 2020.

Eligible applicants must reside full time and own property within the boundaries of the Citrus Springs Municipal Service Benefit Unit as approved by the Board of County Commissioners.

The Citrus Springs Advisory Board meets the first Wednesday of every month at 9:a.m. at the Citrus Springs Community Building, located at 1570 W. Citrus Springs Blvd in Citrus Springs. The purpose of this board is to provide facilities, street lighting, beautification and other essential facilities and municipal services for the Citrus Springs area.

Applications can be accessed at:

https://www.citrusbocc.com/commissioners/advboards/advisory-board-application.pdf

Completed applications should be sent to Citrus County Administration, 3600 W. Sovereign Path Suite 267, Lecanto, FL 34461.

Derelict vessel removed from Homosassa River

Removal of derelict vessel from the Shivers Bay, Homosassa River on Feb. 14, 2019)

Thanks to the efforts of Citrus County Aquatics Director Mark Edwards, and staff, an identified derelict vessel was removed on Feb. 14 from the Homosassa River.

In December 2018, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) notified Citrus County of the potential derelict vessel and later the same month, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved staff to apply for grant funding from the FWC to remove the derelict vessel.

Continue reading “Derelict vessel removed from Homosassa River”

Vols prep for Annual Kid’s Fishing Clinic

Volunteers met Wednesday morning at Fort Island Trail Park to assemble the 300 fishing rods needed for the Annual Kid’s Fishing Clinic scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23.

Volunteers met Wednesday morning at Fort Island Trail Park to assemble the 300 fishing rods needed for the Annual Kid’s Fishing Clinic scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23.

Members from Citrus Fishing Club, Dixie Bay Boating and Fishing Club, and the Inglis/Yankeetown Lions Club were among those present. This is a FREE event from children ages 5 to 15.

Please call Citrus County Parks and Recreation at 352-527-7540 for more information.

CCSO finds Pasco County homicide suspect hiding in car trunk

TAYLOR JACE CONTINO (Pasco County Booking photo)

Citrus County deputies on Friday got a surprise when they opened the trunk of a car during a traffic stop.

Citrus County deputies on Friday got a surprise when they opened the trunk of a car during a traffic stop.

Hiding in the trunk was a suspect wanted in connection with a Pasco County homicide.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) stopped the car at about 3 p.m. after receiving a call from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) about the suspect that was headed into Citrus County on U.S. 19.

Continue reading “CCSO finds Pasco County homicide suspect hiding in car trunk”

Sumter County corrections officer charged with sexual battery of a juvenile

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) announced on Friday the arrest of an inverness man who was also a Sumter County corrections officer at the Coleman Correctional Complex.

Kenneth Slanker

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) announced on Friday the arrest of an Inverness man who was also a Sumter County corrections officer at the Coleman Correctional Complex.

Kenneth Slanker, 41, faces charges related to the alleged sexual battery of a juvenile victim.

The CCSO said that the arrest on Wednesday followed an initial investigation that uncovered the alleged incident.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) arrested 41-year-old Kenneth Slanker of Inverness after an initial investigation revealed that he sexually battered a juvenile victim.

Initial information regarding the sexual battery was reported late Tuesday night, Feb. 5. An interview with the victim was conducted the following day, where she disclosed years of sexual abuse by Slanker. The victim informed detectives that the earliest incident of sexual abuse had occurred when she was less than 10 years old.

With the information gathered, detectives began to build a case against Slanker, the Sheriff’s Office said. During his interview with detectives, Slanker confessed to approximately 25 instances where he sexually abused the victim, the Sheriff’s Office said. He admitted that the first instance was when the victim was about nine years old and went on for several years, with the most recent time being just a few months ago.  He confessed to multiple sex acts involving the victim, with incidents occurring in Citrus County, Lake County and Broward County.

“Kenneth Slanker is a textbook example of a sexual predator. He betrayed, manipulated and victimized this innocent child,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “We will work diligently with the State Attorney’s Office to build a concrete case against Slanker and obtain justice for our victim. If you are the victim of a sex offense, we are here to help you. You are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence.”

Slanker employed grooming and intimidation techniques to target his victim in this case. The Sheriff’s Office said. He knew, based on his manipulation of the victim, the chances of her disclosing the abuse was low. Slanker was arrested and charged with Sexual Battery Victim under 12, Lewd and Lascivious Battery and Lewd and Lascivious Molestation. A $250,000 bond was set by Judge Thompson at first appearance.

“This investigation is ongoing, as the offenses are spread out across multiple counties, and we believe there may possibly be more victims,” a statement from the CCSO said. If you have any information pertaining to this investigation, or if you or someone you know is a victim, please contact Sgt. Conley at (352) 249-2718 or via email at sconley@sheriffcitrus.org.”

CCSO investigates shooting in Inverness

Jeremy Scott Jennings

At approximately 11:47 a.m. this morning, February 7, 2019, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) detectives were at a home in Inverness for a drug investigation.

While transporting a suspect to the jail, detectives noticed a passing vehicle, with an occupant believed to have an outstanding warrant.

A marked patrol unit began to follow the vehicle in an attempt to conduct a traffic stop. After the vehicle pulled over, a CCSO deputy and two TIU detectives approached the vehicle. During their investigation, an unidentified suspect within the vehicle began to resist commands.

A struggle ensued between the unidentified suspect and the deputy. Preliminary investigation indicates that during the struggle, the unidentified suspect gained control of the deputy’s taser and began to tase both the uniformed deputy and one of the assisting detectives.

The armed suspect refused commands to drop the weapon and was subsequently shot. The suspect was transported for treatment of his wounds. The deputy and detectives involved in the arrest were treated for injuries at the scene.

“Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies and detectives are trained to respond appropriately to any threat they come in contact with. Today, we are thankful our own will be able to go home to their families due to their training and actions,” said Sheriff Prendergast. “The willingness of this suspect to resort to physical violence during our contact is unsettling. An aggravated battery on three law enforcement officers like this could have easily ended the life of one of our deputies or that of the suspect.”

As with any deputy-involved shooting, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is on scene and investigating this case. Following agency policy, the deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the preliminary FDLE investigation.

UPDATE: On Thursday night, the CCSO said the suspect in this case has been identified as 41-year-old Jeremy Scott Jennings, who is wanted out of Vermont for assault.

Jennings is a listed sex offender out of New York, the Sheriff’s Office said.

CCSO shutters 2 gambling dens

Citrus County deputies on Thursday shut down two gambling storefronts, one in Inverness and one in Homosassa.

Gambling equipment seized during a search warrant at businesses in Homosassa and Inverness

Citrus County deputies on Thursday shut down two gambling storefronts, one in Inverness and one in Homosassa.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office’s Tactical Impact Unit (TIU) and detectives took down The Time Square Internet Sweepstakes Cafe at 3814 East Gulf to Lake Highway in Inverness and at Lucky U 777 at 3538 S Suncoast Blvd. in Homosassa. The search warrant executions are the result of a several week’s investigation into illegal gambling establishments in the community.

The search warrant executions are the result of a several weeks’ investigation into illegal gambling establishments in the community, The Sheriff’s Office said.

Detectives conducted undercover operations to gather information on the illegal operations of these so-called “games of skill,” which would pay out money to winning players which, the CCSO said. constituted the game as a gamble, which is against the law. Investigations such as this take time, since it is imperative to make strong criminal cases against these establishments and gather intelligence that will lead to the actual owners. Each of these cases will be reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office before any charges or warrants are issued. 

Some of the loot taken in the search warrant executed in Homosassa and Inverness businesses

“Some of these establishments are run like a sophisticated criminal enterprise, instituting many levels of protection between the facility and the actual owner,” said CCSO Sergeant Blair. “There are the actual owners, money runners, shell corporations, managers, and gaming facility staff. The staff in most of these cases do not know who actually owns the illicit gaming facility. Once our investigation into these facilities was complete, detectives constructed a plan to shut down their operations.” 

While executing the search warrants at both businesses, detectives, deputies and forensics personnel confiscated a total of six machines, together with various hard drives, numerous documents and $32,592 in cash. Two individuals on scene were arrested for outstanding warrants not related to this investigation. 

Additional arrests were not made during this initial phase of the operation. Once all available intelligence is gathered, warrants will be issued for those responsible for these illegal gambling storefronts. Surrounding businesses were thankful for the bust, the CCSO said, and noted it would curb the drug and criminal activity that they witnessed out in the parking lot of the establishment.

“There are several of these illegal operations in our community, and we plan to eradicate each one. If you are an owner, operator, employee or even landlord of an illicit gambling operation, this is your notice – close down or be shut down,” said Sheriff Prendergast. 

“The gaming laws pertaining to legal gambling are specific, and those who rent to these illegal establishments can be arrested. Take action now before it’s too late. If you’re fishing,’ you better hope to be on a boat with a pole when we show up. If not, you may be a fish out of water in our Lecanto jail.”

“Some of these establishments are run like a sophisticated criminal enterprise, instituting many levels of protection between the facility and the actual owner,” said CCSO Sergeant Blair. “There are the actual owners, money runners, shell corporations, managers, and gaming facility staff. The staff in most of these cases do not know who actually owns the illicit gaming facility. Once our investigation into these facilities was complete, detectives constructed a plan to shut down their operations.”

While executing the search warrants at both businesses, detectives, deputies and forensics personnel confiscated a total of six machines, together with various hard drives, numerous documents and $32,592 in cash. Two individuals on scene were arrested for outstanding warrants not related to this investigation.

Additional arrests were not made during this initial phase of the operation. Once all available intelligence is gathered, warrants will be issued for those responsible for these illegal gambling storefronts. Surrounding businesses were thankful for the bust, the CCSO said, and noted it would curb the drug and criminal activity that they witnessed out in the parking lot of the establishment.

“There are several of these illegal operations in our community, and we plan to eradicate each one. If you are an owner, operator, employee or even landlord of an illicit gambling operation, this is your notice – close down or be shut down,” said Sheriff Prendergast.

“The gaming laws pertaining to legal gambling are specific, and those who rent to these illegal establishments can be arrested. Take action now before it’s too late. If you’re fishing,’ you better hope to be on a boat with a pole when we show up. If not, you may be a fish out of water in our Lecanto jail.”