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News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida • Page 52

Publication:
News-Pressi
Location:
Fort Myers, Florida
Issue Date:
Page:
52
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

Fort Myers News-Press, Sunday, February 27, 1983 Beaudin BOYFRIEND MICKEY "'ANIMAL" KIRLIN LAST SAW HER FEB. 12 he had to identify Hart's body which was found near Cape Coral Bridge From page In mid-January, Hart was stopped by a Lee County sheriff's deputy on charges of driving under the influence (DUI), no valid driver's license and carrying a concealed weapon all misdemeanor offenses. She had a pistol in her pocket when she was stopped which resulted in the concealed weapon charge, court records show. Before heading to Fort Myers for her appointment, Hart spent the day looking for a job. At 2 p.m., she returned to the van to change into a pair of blue jeans, a light colored shirt and her sandals.

She then walked out to San Carlos Boulevard and thumbed a ride to town. "I'd lost my job on (shrimp) and we didn't have any money so we were living in the van until I could get on another boat," Kirlin, a powerfully structured man, said. "I gave Breeze $1.50 to take the bus but we only had enough for one way so she said she'd hitchhike to town and take the bus home." Hart left the public defender's office no later than 4:30 p.m. and the -last bus back to the beach left the Lee County Courthouse area at 5:30 p.m. Kirlin said he thinks Hart missed the bus and was slain by "someone I who offered her a ride home." Investigators said they have estabfished that Hart was last seen alive talking to two men in the Pic Wic poolroom on Bay Street in downtown Fort Myers between 9 and 10 p.m.

that Friday. She was asking for a ride back to the beach and is thought to have left the bar with one of the men. "Breeze was never afraid of strangers," Kirlin said. "She always trusted people and she thought she could take care of herself but she was really just a little girl at heart." Kirlin said he was not concerned VICTIM MICHELLE HART never returned when Hart did not return to the beach that night. "We'd had a little fight just before she left for town and I just thought she was messing with my head," Kirlin said.

"The next day I got real drunk Friday night -I was reading the paper and I read about the cops finding this body and when I got to the description of the woman and about the tattoo on her left shoulder. I got real scared and I called the cops." Later that day, Kirlin identified Hart's body. It was not an easy task even for a man admittedly toughened by his years on shrimp boats and shrimp docks. His thick mane of red hair and bushy beard give him the appearance of the television character "Grissly Adams." His tanned, stocky, gorilla build earned him the nickname "Animal." But there also is a gentleness about this man who has swasticas tattooed on both ear lobes and various other tattoos on his arms and hands. DATELINE: SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Man receives minor injuries in crash NAPLES A Naples man escaped serious injury early Saturday morn-Ing in an accident that destroyed his car, according to police reports.

William Moore, 25, of Third Avenue North, was driving south on U.S. 41 at about 70 miles an hour when the accident occurred near Orchid Drive at 2:05 a.m., police said. The car crossed the center line to the right, struck a curb and bounced off, then slid and jumped the curb again, hitting the concrete pole, officials said. Moore sustained only minor injuries in the accident, police said. Moore was charged with reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol, according to records.

2 hospitalized after 3-vehicle accident BONITA SPRINGS Two men were hospitalized after being thrown from a burning Harley-Davidson motorcycle involved in a three-vehicle accident Friday night, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) said. Richard A. Stein, 33, of Fort Myers, and his passenger, Mark A. Peterson, 27, of Naples, were driving east when the accident occurred at the intersection of Bonita Beach Road and Vanderbilt Drive at about 11 p.m., the FHP said. As Edward Borchers, 75, of Bonita Shores, was heading west, he turned his 1978 Chrysler left at Vanderbilt Drive in front of the motorcycle which then hit his vehicle, the FHP said.

Stein and Peterson were listed in fair condition at Fort Myers Community Hospital Saturday. After the motorcycle collision, Borchers' car struck a 1978 Chevrolet driven by Thomas K. O'Brien, 32, of Connecticut, troopers said. Finger is dead at age 63 Ernest G. Finger, active in the community and in the construction industry for the past '22 years, died Saturday morning at his Iona-McGregor home.

The 63-year-old community leader and former professional boxer lost a four-year bout with cancer, according to friends. The founder and chairman of the board of Finger Construction continued to work at least part-time until this year, friends and employees said. "The death was not unexpected, but the news that he died Saturday morning still came as a surprise," a friend said. Finger had served as director of the Fort Myers Building Department in addition to being a member of numerous construction trade boards, community groups and business organizations. He served on the Lee County YM- CA Board of Directors since it was conceived.

He also served as vice president of the Boys Scouts of America of Fort Myers. Finger spent 15 years as a member of the chamber of commerce, working on various committees for the organization. For the past two years he served as chairman in charge of the building and trades for the United Way. was a director of the Southwest Florida Alcoholism Services, was active in the Power Squadron and was a member of the Board of Directors for the Committee of 100. Finger also stayed active on a professional level.

He was a member of the Lee County Contractors Association which later merged with the Southwest Florida Builders Association to form the Five County Builders and Contractors Association. He helped the Association of Builders begin its Gulf Coast chapter and held membership in the Florida Engineering Society. Finger began his three-year professional boxing career in 1939 and fought in the heavyweight division while living in Louisville, Ky. In 1942 he joined the armed forces, serving as a aviation mechanic before being transferred to the Army Engineers and completing Officers Training School. Survivors include his wife, Adele; sons Grant and Reid, both of Fort Myers; daughter Martha Nagata, also of Fort Myers; a brother, Fritz, of Louisville, sisters Thelma Meis, of Truckee, Bertha Lynes, of Nashville, and Doris Haywood, of Danville, Ky; and seven grandchildren.

The funeral is 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Hilary's Episcopal Church, 5011 McGregor Blvd. and burial will be at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens. About 100 attend college seminar About 100 students examined their options for the future with the help of a four-hour "College and Career Day" Saturday at the Dunbar Community School.

Representatives from a wide array of career fields were on hand to share their expertise with high school juniors and seniors from Lee and Collier counties and students from Edison Community College. The program is designed to introduce young people of the black community to offerings at predominantly black colleges such as Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach. The event was sponsored by the Fort Myers Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The turnout was good, sorority member Audrey Anderson said. Professionals from almost 30 career fields told students about what they could expect in conditions, competition, required preparation and salaries.

A morning workshop dealt with financial aid applications. Some of the most popular participants with the students were Johnny Wright, a Fort Myers native who plays football for the Baltimore Colts; broadcaster Valerie Williams of television station WINK, Judge Isaac Anderson, and contractor Willie Battle. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority is a national service organization that celebrated its 70th anniversary last week. The Fort Myers chapter offers $500 scholarships to deserving ECC students every semester and a $1,500 to $2,000 scholarship every two years to a deserving young woman in the black community. "College and Career Day" is the first of a three- part program the sorority is sponsoring.

In April, 50 students from Saturday's event will be selected for an overnight trip to Bethune-Cookman College for a close-up look at the social and academic aspects of college life. In May, an awards luncheon will honor area high school graduates who have maintained a average. Vandals leave Port Charlotte residents dry By ERNESTINE WILLIAMS News-Press Bureau PORT CHARLOTTE Vandalism left an undetermined number of residents without water for about eight hours Saturday, according to a General Development Utilities (GDU) official. Vandals are thought to have wrapped a chain around a fire hydrant and pulled it from a water main, allowing water to spew into the street, according to Merv Maurer, GDU manager of Port Charlotte operations. "It was strictly vandalism," Maurer said, adding that paint scratchings on the hydrant and tire markings were found.

The fire hydrant is located just inside North Port near Harbor Drive, Maurer said. North Port residents were not affected by the incident. Maurer estimated that the homes hardest hit by the water loss were in the vicinity of the Promenades Mall and Fawcett and St. Joseph hospitals. The problem was discovered at about 3 a.m.

Saturday when operators at the company's Peace River Regional Water Plant noticed the plant's water pumps working at an increased rate for no apparant reason, Maurer said. Efforts were made at that time to find the problem but the damaged hydrant was not found until about 6 a.m., he said. Water was transferred from the company's North Port water plant to Port Charlotte until the water main was sealed at about 11 a.m., Maurer said. When Port Charlotte residents Man charged in cab driver's kidnapping still in custody News- Press Bureau PORT CHARLOTTE A man charged with kidnapping a North Fort Myers cab driver remained in custody Saturday. A Sarasota County judge set bail for Howard Lakes, 52, of Bradenton, at $4,739 on resisting arrest with violence and aggravated assault charges, according to Sherri Combs, booking officer for the Sarasota County Sheriff's Department.

But no bond was set for the kidnapping charge faced by Lakes, authorities said also goes by the name Verin Moore. Wielding a handgun, Lakes forced Yellow Cab driver Ken Magiera of North 1 Fort Myers to drive him to Bradenton, lawmen said. Magiera, 33, was not injured. Lakes, who Magiera said had been drinking in the cab, is reported to have become upset after learning that his wife had filed for divorce. Magiera picked Lakes up at the Wonderland Motel in North Fort Myers and took him to the Tides Motel where his wife, Mary Lakes, works as a housekeeper.

They left the motel and went to the Greyhound Bus Station on Victoria Avenue in Fort Myers where Lakes pulled a gun on Mageria and forced the cab driver to take him back tothe hotel where he later threatened his wife, lawmen said. Although he asked about the fee for transportation from Fort Myers to Bradenton, lawmen said Lakes forced Magiera to take him to take him to Bradenton via Interstate 75. Lawmen from Fort Myers to North Port joined the search for Lakes, who was arrested on I-75 about one-quarter of a mile south of the Ponce de Leon Bridge. Lakes was arrested by North Port authorities at about noon after lawmen spotted the car on the interstate and followed it for a short distance with their blue lights flashing. While Lakes was asleep, Magiera noticed the police car, pulled thet taxi off the road and ran for cover.

awakened to find that they had little or no water, some of them immediately began calling GDU, the sheriff's department and the Punta Gorda Police Department, tying up phone lines for several hours, officials said. "Excessive calls busied out all the facilities in the Port Charlotte office," according to Bob Sauerwine, customer accounts manager for United Telephone. Phone lines in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda were tied up for several hours until the problem corrected itself, Sauerwine said. He could not estimate how many homes were affected. Preliminary damage estimates run as high as $12,000, Maurer said.

The North Port Police Department is investigating the incident. Hart was 16 when she moved from her parents home in Syracuse, N. to an apartment of her own. "She was always so independant," Hampson said of her daughter, "but she only moved a block away from home and her father and I helped her with the rent." Hart dropped out of school in the 11th grade and moved to Texas where Hampson's sister lived. She met Kirlin in Texas and his job as a shrimper brought them to Fort Myers Beach.

"Just last week after I got in froma (shrimping) trip, Breeze said to me 'Animal, why don't you marry Kirlin said. "And I said to her 'OK honey' and we were talking of going back to Texas to see her mother." Hampson said she had been thinking of her daughter "and had the feeling she was coming home. "I was, in a way, waiting for her," Hampson said. Hart's body arrived in Texas and she was buried there Feb. 17.

"I'm going to Texas," Kirlin said. "I got to see where they put her." Hampson said she knew her daughter never achieved greatness by contemporary standards but even though she died without fame or fortune, "she was somebody. "Michelle was somebody to everybody who ever knew her," Hampson said. "I may not have approved of everything she did but she was genuine. She was sincere and unselfish and oh so trusting.

I just feel so angry. She was a good-hearted person who experienced wanderlust at an early age. I'm going to really miss her." Lawmen say they are seeking the two men who were last seen talking to Hart in the Pic Wic but they say they really have no suspects in Hart's murder. Photographer By ALLEN BARTLETT News-Press Staff Writer What began as a story to test security at the Lee County Airport has become an unusual libel suit one pitting a Fort Myers television station and a photographer it fired. Former television photographer Luis Saumell now claims in a suit against owners of television station WINK and two station officials that he was libeled and defamed by his former bosses' explanation of his firing.

Ellis Rubin, a Miami lawyer representing Saumell, is claiming in the $2.4 million damage suit that WINK defrauded and deceived the photographer. Rubin said last week he knows of no other libel suit pitting a member of the media against the media. A spokeswoman for the Florida Press Association said she hadn't heard of such a suit. Tampa lawyers for the Fort Myers Broadcasting Co. station recently said the claims have no merit and are asking Circuit Judge William Nelson to dismiss the complaint.

The incident which prompted the suit unfolded in July when Saumell, 29, and Jeff Humphrey, 20, attempted to sneak two fake Molotov cocktails through the airport's security checkpoint. Wicks were Stuck in two soda bottles which were filled with a gasoline-colored mixture Everyone's a winner in Special Olympics Special Olympians gathered Saturday at Cypress Lake Middle School to flex their muscles. The 320 mentally handicapped athletes who participated in the games came from Gulf Coast Center, Riverside School, LARC, the Lee County Exceptional School, Goodwill, and various group homes in the seven district of Southwest They ranged in age from 10 to 65. The events were the spring sports of track and field, socker, swimming and a frisbee-throwing contest. The philosophy of Special Olympics makes all contestants winners, and they all receive trophies and ribbons, according to Sherry Lavendar, Lee County coordinator for the Special Olympics.

Everyone who participated Saturday will go to Sarasota March 19 to participate in the district games. After that are statewide games in Tampa, then international games during the summer at Louisiana State University, which are held every four years. Members of the Fort Myers Police Department took photographs of each participant, so they all had momentoes of the occasion. After traffic on the interstate had been stopped, a policeman shot out one of the taxi's tires to keep Lakes from driving away, according to Detective Sgt. Angelo Favara of the North Port Police Department.

Lakes was arrested about 15 minutes after Magiera ran from the cab, Favara said. 'Lakes is scheduled for arraignment on the kidnapping and aggravated assault charges March 18, and the resisting arrest with violence charge March 28, Combs said. sues Fort Myers of food coloring and water. The bogus items were stuck in a bag and sent through the X-ray machine. The pair pretended they were at the airport to film an arriving political candidate.

Security personnel spotted the devices and stopped the pair. The CBS affilate fired the duo two days later. Robert Doty, the station's vice president and general manager, said in a July 27 broadcast statement that "their actions don't mesh with our news policies." That statement and other comments by WINK officials were published by the News-Press and the Miami Herald and were distributed by news wire services, Rubin said. Those statements by station officials libeled Saumell, claims the revised suit which names Fort Myers Broadcasting, Doty and news director James Bennett as defendants. Saumell's suit originally sought compensation for his alleged emotional stress and a claim that he was wrongfully fired.

That complaint was dismissed because of its wording, but Rubin was allowed to refile the suit. In the revised allegations, he claims Saumell was defrauded and libeled. Responding to the fraud claim, attorneys, George Barford and Richard McCrea contend it is unwarranted because there is no proof the station officials' statements about the firing are wrong. station for libel Saumell claims that he was ordered by reporters to participate in filming the story, even though he personally objected. Station officials fired Saumell for not checking first with station management, the suit alleges.

In the response to new allegations, station lawyers say Saumell's claims are opinions, not facts, SO the fraud claim is invalid. The complaint "fails to allege the most essential element of (a suit) for fraud a false statement of fact," Barford and McCrea contend. They also argue that there is a presumption the photographer knew the law or should have checked if he didn't. "Any competent person would have realized that the proposed assignment violated criminal laws," station attorneys contend. "If the reporter told Saumell that it was lawful to film the reporter brutalizing an old lady while posing as a mugger, would Saumell have been justified in relying on such a statement? The conclusion is Rubin also now claims the station was responsbile for other media publishing the allegedly defamatory statements.

In response, station lawyers say there is no explanation how WINK caused other media to publish the statements. Most of the comments didn't refer directly to. Saumell and none was defamatory, they contend..

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