Tag Archives: Police

Couple found dead, BBPD unravel murder-suicide

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BBPD Officer Steve Masy and other law enforcement assist the medical examiner in removing a body Oct. 17 from the apartment where two people were found dead in the 2500 block of Avenue C in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice
Sabrina Dumdei, 37, died in Bradenton Beach. Her body was found in her apartment Oct. 17. The Bradenton Beach Police Department is investigating.

A string of domestic incidents may have been the precursor for two deaths in Bradenton Beach.

Law enforcement officers began an investigation Oct. 17 at a triplex in the 2500 block of Avenue C in Bradenton Beach, where Sabrina Dumdei, 37, and Zachary Winton, 34, were found dead, according to Bradenton Beach Police Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz.

Diaz called the case a “probable murder-suicide,” but added Oct. 18 that he was waiting for the medical examiner’s assessment of the bodies.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale told The Islander that Dumdei’s father called the BBPD around 2:30 p.m. Oct. 17 to report he found two bodies when he arrived at the property to contact his daughter.

Bradenton Beach resident Patty Shay told The Islander that she walked by the scene after Speciale arrived, when she heard Dumdei’s mother say, “My daughter and her boyfriend just killed each other.”

Speciale, who lives a block over on Avenue B, was the first to respond to the scene after a neighbor ran to his home and notified him of the father’s discovery.

Speciale said Dumdei was a family friend who’d worked for his now-retired wife at a salon she owned.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office crime scene unit arrived around 2:50 p.m. to begin its investigation.

Authorities had not disclosed many details about the incident as of Oct. 18, including what weapons were used or how and where the bodies were found within the upstairs rental apartment.

“There’s a lot of blood,” Speciale said of the scene. “We don’t know the weapon yet, so we’re waiting to find out where the wounds are and what they’re consistent with.”

A broken, blood-spattered chair was visible on the second-floor balcony of the triplex as law enforcement officers began investigating the scene. Blood also could be seen splashed across the sliding glass door and blind behind the chair, as well as smeared on the door to the residence.

Diaz said the mess was even worse inside, where they found the bodies.

“It was a gruesome scene,” he said. “Probably the worst I’ve seen in my 30 years.”

Employees from the District 12 medical examiner’s office removed the bodies from the residence around 9:50 p.m. for examination, which could take up to a month to complete, according to Diaz.

The couple had been involved in three known domestic incidents in the months leading up to their deaths.

Dumdei was arrested July 19 for misdemeanor domestic battery, but the charge was dropped before the case could make it to an arraignment hearing and she was released.

Winton was arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery Aug. 10 and was released after posting bond.

The bond was later disposed when the charge was dropped.

Most recently, Winton was arrested Aug. 31 on four felony charges, including aggravated assault of his partner with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, battery, false imprisonment and tampering with a witness.

He denied the allegations and was released Sept. 1 after posting a $16,000 bail, and the case remained open.

Winton was instructed not to contact Dumdei, but Winton’s attorney filed a motion Sept. 9 for consensual contact.

Judge Lon Arend of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court granted a motion Sept. 15 to lift the no-contact order between the pair.

Eyes on the road – 10-21-2020

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following:

  • Cortez Road and 119th Street West in Cortez: Work to realign the intersection of 119th Street West at Cortez Road/State Road 684 continues. Phase 2 involves work on the north side of Cortez Road with traffic to Harbor Landings detoured to 127th Street.
  • Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach: A county pipeline replacement project continues, involving resurfacing the roadway, reinstallation of paver driveways, removal of construction materials Monday-Saturday. Expected completion is this fall.
  • Clark and Marina drives in Holmes Beach: Roadway striping is to be installed this fall.

— Lisa Neff

Man pleads no contest in 2018 DUI arrest

An Anna Maria man who initially blamed windy weather for losing his balance when he exited his vehicle pleaded no contest in a 2018 DUI case.

Via a teleconference call in September, Rafael Sackett, 48, pleaded no contest and was judged guilty on the charge of alcohol-related reckless driving.

He was sentenced to six months of probation and ordered to complete a DUI course.

The arrest took place Dec. 21, 2018.

Sackett was arrested by a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy in the 300 block of Palm Avenue in Anna Maria. Another deputy had observed Sackett speeding.

The deputy reported Sackett stumbled out of the truck he was driving, refused to perform a field-sobriety test and blamed his lack of balance on high winds.

He also told police he was diabetic. EMS tested Sackett and reported his blood pressure and blood sugar were normal.

Prosecutor drops BBPD’s grand theft-Daiquiri Deck case

A case involving the alleged theft of $20,000 from a Daiquiri Deck customer reached an early end.

The state attorney’s office filed a notice of case action Oct. 8 declining to press a second-degree felony charge against Tabatha Dondanville, a manager at the Bradenton Beach restaurant, for allegedly stealing the cash from a customer’s purse that was mistakenly left behind.

The prosecutor’s office sent a memo to the Bradenton Beach Police Department Oct. 9 explaining that the customer, Jasmine Bryant of Arcadia, had declined to press charges.

“The victim said she did not want to move forward with the criminal charges because she had promised the manager that she would not pursue criminal charges if she got her money back. She believes that the defendant’s arrest was enough punishment,” the memo stated.

“Without the testimony and cooperation of the victim, the state has insufficient evidence to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt and this charge is declined,” the memo continued.

Bryant’s decision is another twist in a case that already had a share of flip-flopping.

It began the night of Sept. 7, when Bryant forgot her purse after dining at the restaurant with her partner. She later told police the purse contained a large amount of money because she has distrust in banks.

Bryant called the restaurant but was told the employees couldn’t find the handbag.

Then she visited the restaurant the morning of Sept. 8 and spoke to manager Samantha Mitchell, who told her no purse was found but, on hearing Bryant calling the BBPD, then produced the missing purse from a back room.

When Mitchell returned the bag, it did not contain $20,000 — only a note that read, “Found in bathroom.”

BBPD Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz and Lt. John Cosby arrived and viewed security camera footage from the restaurant’s interior that showed Dondanville taking the purse into the manager’s office on the night it went missing.

However, neither Dondanville nor Mitchell admitted to knowing the whereabouts of the missing cash.

Later in the day, Bryant called the BBPD to report that Mitchell returned the money under the condition that she wouldn’t further involve the police.

Still, Bryant signed an affidavit and agreed to press charges.

Diaz returned to the restaurant and spoke with Mitchell, who eventually said Dondanville took the money.

Diaz arrested Dondanville and took her to the police station, where she allegedly admitted to the theft.

Dondanville’s attorney, Ronald Filipkowski, had filed a not guilty plea on her behalf and also represented her in an arraignment hearing Oct. 2.

The state attorney’s office memo states that Dondanville was terminated from her job as a manager at the Daiquiri Deck.

Eyes on the road – 10-14-2020

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following:

  • Cortez Road and 119th Street West in Cortez: Work to realign the intersection of 119th Street West at Cortez Road/State Road 684 continues. Phase 2 involves a new traffic pattern and shifting construction to the north side of Cortez Road. Thru traffic will use the south side of Cortez Road. Also, outbound lanes of Harbor Landing Drive will be closed and traffic into Harbor Landings will be detoured to the west on 127th Street.
  • Multiple locations in Bradenton Beach: A county pipeline replacement project continues. Impacted areas include Gulf Drive, Bay Drive South, Church Avenue and Cortez Road. Expect construction in rights of way and increased truck traffic.

For the latest road watch information, go online to fl511.com and swflroads.com or dial 511.

And, a reminder, a fare-free trolley operates daily on Anna Maria Island.

— Lisa Neff

Bradenton man arrested for DUI in Holmes Beach

A Bradenton man was arrested Oct. 4 for driving under the influence of alcohol in Holmes Beach.

Cody Conachen, 34, was arrested at 2:03 a.m. in the 5800 block of Gulf Drive by a Holmes Beach police officer.

According to the HBPD report, the officer

observed the motorist driving south on Gulf Drive at a high rate of speed for wet road conditions. The license plate lights were not functioning.

The officer stopped the driver and reported Conachen smelled of alcohol and he mumbled and repeated responses to the officer’s questions.

The officer called for a backup officer to conduct a field sobriety test, which Conachen failed. His blood-alcohol level was 0.186 and 0.205 on two tests. The legal alcohol limit is 0.08.

Conachen was arrested for DUI, fourth or subsequent violation, with a blood-alcohol content over 0.15, transported to the Manatee County jail and released that day on a $1500 bond.

His arraignment has been set for Oct. 30.

— ChrisAnn Allen


Former AME principal arrested in prostitution sting

By Amy V.T. Moriarty

Islander Reporter

A former principal at Anna Maria Elementary was arrested in Hillsborough County in September.

Thomas Levengood, 68, was arrested for entering/remaining in place for prostitution, lewdness or assignation by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, according to a Sept. 10 arrest record.

An attorney entered a not guilty plea Sept. 14 on Levengood’s behalf.

Natalia Verdina, public relations coordinator for HCSO, said Levengood was arrested at 3:05 p.m. at Sun City Park in Ruskin, where he allegedly approached an undercover detective and solicited sex.

Verdina said no money was exchanged between Levengood and the detective.

Levengood was released from jail after posting a $250 cash bond. He is scheduled to appear before 13th Judicial Circuit Court Judge John Conrad for virtual arraignment proceedings Oct. 12, according to court records.

Grayson Kamm, chief communications director for the State’s Attorney’s Office in the 13th Judicial Circuit, said charges were filed in that office Sept. 25.

A Sept. 18 news release from HCSO identified Levengood as one of 11 men arrested by deputies in two Hillsborough County parks, as part of “Operation Park Cleanup.” All were similarly accused in the sting operation.

According to that news release, deputies focused their enforcement efforts on Sun City Heritage Park and Sydney Dover Conservation Park in Dover because both “are known to deputies as points where men meet for sex.”

Levengood was the principal at AME from February 2007 through June 2014. He was the principal at Bayshore Elementary from August 1994 through January 2007.

Levengood was unavailable for comment and his attorney, Brian Palacios, declined to discuss the case.

If convicted of the second-degree misdemeanor, Levengood could face up to 60 days in prison and/or a fine up to $500.

BBPD arrests Lakeland man for vehicle theft

Deputies from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Lakeland resident Martin Aldridge Sept. 17 for allegedly giving a false ID to deputies after they located a stolen vehicle on his property.

The Polk County deputies then contacted the Bradenton Beach Police Department to report they found a vehicle which had possibly been stolen from a Bradenton Beach resident.

A BBPD officer contacted the registered vehicle owner, who said she didn’t report the vehicle missing because she believed it was borrowed by a friend.

However, the owner reported that Aldridge didn’t have permission to take the vehicle and told the BBPD that Aldridge must have entered her house without permission to take her keys. She asked to press charges.

The BBPD officer issued her a case number and a victim’s rights pamphlet, then filed a capias request to press felony charges against Aldridge for grand theft auto and burglary.

The false ID charge is a misdemeanor.

The vehicle was recovered from the Lakeland property and returned to the owner.

Aldridge remained in custody at the Polk County jail under a $500 bond as of Sept. 25.

— Ryan Paice

BB restaurant manager nabbed for stealing purse, $20K

It’s the case of a flip-flopping story about a missing purse and a big wad of cash.

Bradenton Beach police arrested Tabatha Dondanville, 27, of Sarasota, Sept. 8 on felony grand theft for allegedly stealing $20,000 from a customer’s purse while at work at the Daiquiri Deck, 107 Bridge St.

The customer told officers she forgot her purse containing the money at her table Sept. 7 after a long dinner at the restaurant with her partner.

The woman, visiting from Arcadia, called the Daiquiri Deck that night to ask about the purse but was told by employees that the bag wasn’t found.

She visited the restaurant the next morning and spoke to manager Samantha Mitchell, who said no purse was found.

However, when Mitchell noticed the customer was calling the Bradenton Beach Police Department, she produced the purse from a back room.

She handed the purse to the customer with a note that read, “Found in bathroom,” but the purse did not contain $20,000.

BBPD Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz and Lt. John Cosby arrived on scene and viewed security camera footage from the restaurant’s interior that showed Dondanville, the Daiquiri Deck night manager, taking the purse to the manager’s office.

But the office security camera was partially blocked and officers could not see what happened next.

Neither Mitchell nor Dondanville admitted knowing the whereabouts of the missing cash, according to the BBPD report.

But later Sept. 8, the customer called the BBPD to report that Mitchell had returned the missing money to her under the condition that she wouldn’t further involve the police.

Diaz met with the customer, who signed an affidavit and agreed to press charges.

Diaz returned to the restaurant and spoke with Mitchell, who initially denied and then admitted returning the money after she learned the exchange was caught on a restaurant security camera.

When the detective asked who took the money, Mitchell refused to answer.

So Diaz gave her an ultimatum: help as a witness or be arrested as an accessory to a crime.

Mitchell said Dondanville took the money. So Diaz detained Dondanville and took her to the police station, where he said she admitted to taking the money.

She was transported to the Manatee County jail and released Sept. 9 after posting a $7,500 bond.

A court date for the case was not set as of Sept. 18 but a plea of not guilty was entered Sept. 14.

Holmes Beach chase ends in grand theft auto arrest

Police say a 32-year-old Tampa man led them on a vehicle chase that started east of the Anna Maria Island Bridge in Holmes Beach and ended on foot in Bradenton.

Holmes Beach police arrested Kelly King Sept. 11 in an allegedly stolen 2010 Toyota Camry on charges of grand theft auto, a third-degree felony, and fleeing with disregard to the safety of persons, a second-degree felony, as well as reckless driving, driving while license suspended or revoked and resisting an officer without violence.

The chase began at 5:38 p.m. after HBPD Officer Alex Hurt was alerted to a stolen vehicle by the city’s license plate reader system. He followed the Camry over the bridge and advised other units of his pursuit.

After crossing the bridge, Hurt activated his lights and siren. The motorist continued east on Manatee Avenue, passing a car by driving through the grass on the right shoulder, where the suspect vehicle hit a hill and caught air, then proceeded through the parking lot at Perico Apartments in the 11000 block of Manatee Avenue West, continuing to evade police.

The motorist pulled back onto Manatee Avenue West, almost hitting a bystander. As the vehicle approached 75th Street West, the front right tire blew and the motorist proceeded to drive on the rim, throwing off sparks and cutting a rut in the road, according to the police reports.

The vehicle turned south onto 51st Street, then east onto Cortez Road, where it swerved into oncoming traffic and proceeded until it turned south onto 14th Street, again head-on into northbound lanes.

The motorist stopped the car at the Michiana Motel, 3235 14th St. W., Bradenton, where the driver and a passenger fled on foot.

Another HBPD officer, assisted by a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy, chased King, ordered him on the ground at gunpoint, then handcuffed and arrested him.

The MCSO deputy apprehended the passenger at gunpoint near 14th Street West and later cleared and released the individual.

King was being held on $20,870 bond at the Manatee County jail on as of Sept. 16 and was scheduled to appear in court Oct. 9.