Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on May 12, 1981 · 31
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Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 31

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St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, May 12, 1981
Page:
31
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t. Petersburg eimeB EDITION BROOKSVILLE - ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. TUESDAY, MAY 12,1981 Sunny 1 I Irooktv.ll. wgrj High in lower 80s. Low in lower to mid 60$. W-N W winds 10 mph. O VwaiWachM nT5gilif ' c u.ii mmmm 3Spr'n'Hl"d Mauryktownf Farh)r '? caoir's wddog3 ffoairs By OERALD EVERHART Harnande Tlmaa Staff Wrttar BROOKSVILLE - While BrooksviUe police labored Monday to identify the two bodies found in a burning car early Saturday morning, the father of Ricky Lee Merrill, the owner of the car, has prepared himself for the worst Jim Merrill, owner of the Ark restaurant at Weeki Wa-chee, told The Time$ Monday that he believes his son died in that car fire with a woman friend. He also thinks his son was murdered. "We turned him over the Lord two years ago, and He has called him home," Merrill said. "We're very upset about it" The 1979 black Chevrolet El Camino was in flames when a passing motorist noticed it about 2:30 a.m. Satur day on Staffford Avenue near a Seaboard Coast Line Railroad trestle. AFTER THE BLAZE was extinguished, firemen found the charred remains of two people, believed to have been a white man in his 20s and a white female in her late teens. As of Monday afternoon, neither body had been identified, BrooksviUe Police Chief Ron Novy said. "We don't have anything to release at this time," he said, when asked about the cause of death as determined by the autopsies. But James Merrill said the car had been bought by Rick, 24, from his other son, Mark, in October 1980. No one in the family has seen Rick since he left work at the restaurant about 8:30 p.m. Friday, Merrill said. "Rick got a call at the restaurant Friday night and re sponded to that call," Merrill said. "That was the last time we saw him alive." THE DISCOVERY of two syringes near the burned automobile and other "confidential information" has led investigators to believe the deaths may be drug-related, Assistant State Attorney Jimmy Brown told The Times Sunday. Police are investigating the incident as a double homicide. The Ark was closed Monday and a white wreath had been placed on the front doors. "Closed due to death in the family" is the explanation given passersby by a large, portable sign in front of the restaurant, which is near the Weeki Wachee River. While his son was on three years' probation following a 1979 grand theft conviction in connection with the theft of a motorcycle, Merrill said Rick was making a comeback. "FROM ALL indications, he had it all together. He's been doing very well for the last year," Merrill said. "Things were going good for him. He was a very intelligent, very well-liked boy. He managed the restaurant for us while we were on vacation. "We've been getting a lot of calls from people who are concerned for Rick people who are our regular customers and who saw Rick Friday night" Merrill said he thinks the other body is that of an old friend of Rick's, although he declined to give her name. "Rick truly cared about people. I've been proud of his relationships with other human beings," he said. 5 Jr. 4. . i4 till o f Pickup truck, car destroyed in crash Harnando TimM BOB MORELANO Walton D. Champion, 53, of BrooksviUe was charged with careless driving by the Florida Highway Patrol Monday after the pickup truck he was driving slammed sideways into a compact car on U.S. 98 just north of the Hernando County Line, Trooper W. S. Edsall said. Champion's truck was heading south when it apparently ran off the road at 1 1 :35 a.m. and then began to slide sideways on the road, Edsall reported. The truck collided with a northbound Ford Pinto driven by Harrison Thornhill Jr., 1 8, of Winter Haven, he said. A passenger in the Pinto, Harrison Thornhill Sr., 42, was treated at Lykes Memorial Hospital for minor injuries. Both vehicles were destroyed. 1 1 witnesses called in Matteo's defense By KEVIN MULLIGAN CHrut TimM Staff Wrttar OCALA Defense testimony in former Inverness Police Chief Tom Matteo's federal civil rights trial Monday painted a picture of Tim Hardy as a man who repeatedly resisted authority and has a reputation for violence. Matteo, 36, is charged with violating Hardy's civil rights when he broke Hardy's jaw outside Griffs Bar on Oct 24, 1979. Matteo and former officer Ronnie Simpson also are charged with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Susan Browning Cook Thompson after she led five police officers on a high-speed chase on May 16, 1980. Monday's parade of 11 defense witnesses largely testified that Hardy had a poor record with the law in Citrus County. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ernst Mueller questioned the validity of the testimony, characterizing it as "approaching the competitive stage." U.S. District Judge Charles R. Scott ruled that testimony from state parole and probation officer Michael Dippolito was inadmissible. Dippolito testified without the jury present that Hardy is being sought by police on five criminal charges, stemming from an incident with a 16-year-old girl that occurred last Monday. Scott ruled that Dippolito had no firsthand knowledge of the charges and that Hardy was not the defendant on trial. Defense attorney Frank Amatea stressed Hardy's reputation as a drinker, fighter and defiant of authority. His contention was supported by testimony from sheriffs deputies Charles Moore and Dwight Giddens, Citrus High School Principal Frank Webb and schoolteacher Cynthia Spooner. REGARDING THE Thompson incident, FBI crime lab analyst Donald Havekost testified that he examined the rear panel of Matteo's car, which allegedly was struck by a bul- TOM MATTEO ... his turn. let fired by Thompson. Havekost said he found lead fragments in paint chips taken from the car but could not verify that they came from a bullet fired from her gun. Mrs. Thompson had a pistol in her hand and had her wrists grabbed by Matteo and Simpson after she pulled her car off the road, former officer David Walker testified. Under cross-examination by Mueller, however, Walker said he found Mrs. Thompson's 38-caliber pistol on the seat of her See MATTEO. Page 4 MRS criticizes SAS for not using telemetry By DIANNE STALLINGS Harnando TimM Staff Wrttar BROOKSVILLE A state inspection of Hernando County's emergency medical service run by SAS Ambulance Inc. resulted in the criticism of the company for not using an available patient vital-sign monitoring (telemetry) system, an official from the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) said Monday. SAS President Bill Stanley will appear before the County Commission this afternoon to discuss the situation. The session begins at 3:30 p.m. SAS, based in Pinellas County, signed a contact to operate Hernando County's ambulance service Feb. 7. In an interview with The Times last week, Stanley acknowledged that the telemetry system was not in use, but said there were substantial problems caused by the interruption of the unit's signals by hilly terrain and other interference. The inspection Friday by two field representatives of the emergency medical services division of HRS, Bob Reynolds and Don Richards, was prompted by an accumulation of complaints over the last two months, David Fairweather, assistant HRS administrator, told The Times Monday. Two men were assigned "because this thing has been somewhat heated and there were so many questions, we thought a second pair of eyes might be needed," Fairweather explained. HE SAID he could not comment on the specifics in the report, which is to be filed with his office by the two inspectors, because it had not been received Monday. Once Fairweather has the report, he and Ron Huskey, licensure coordinator, will review it and make a recommendation on what action to take, Fairweather said. If they feel it is warranted, they could recommend that SAS be given 30 days to use the telemetry system in the two ambulances supposedly equipped for advance life support (ALS) or face revocation of their ALS certification, Fairweather said. "In the interim, there is really not a whole lot to do," he said. "It would be worse to shut down the whole system. The lack of telemetry doesn't preclude them from doing a whole lot of other things." Under the county-run ambulance department, the telemetry system occasionally failed, but the department had backup procedures, such as radio contact with the medical director, Fairweather said. That same backup could be used now, but that is a decision outside the state's jursidiction, he added. "WHEN THE system was under the county, we were aware they had problems with it (telemetry) of a technical nature but it worked fairly well up to 12 miles out. And in Hernando County, that pretty well covers it," he said. "We recommended they try to resolve those problems. But the system was in the ambulances and essentially it worked." To be certified for ALS (a requirement included in SAS' contract with the county commission), telemetry must be operable in the ambulances, he said. "An arbitrary statement (that it doesn't work well) is not a good enough reason to put in on the shelf," Fairweather said. Zoning board public hearings may end By OIANNE STALLINGS Harnando Timaa 8taff Wrttar BROOKSVILLE An end may be in sight to the procedure of conducting public hearings in front of Hernando County's Planning and Zoning Board on rezon-ing and subdivision petitions. A recommendation to end the hearings is being examined by the Hernando County Commission. But until the commission makes a decision, the board will continue to conduct hearings, and its five members will deal with 23 zoning issues during its meeting today. The zoning board will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the Ayers Building on BrooksviUe Avenue. Among the petitions to be considered is that of Florida Crushed Stone Co. to rezone two parcels from agriculture-residential to mining. The parcels total 222 acres and are located near State Road 491. THE COMPANY unsuccessfully sought a similar rezoning last year. One parcel is one-half mile east of SR 491 at the road's intersection with Centralia Road, and the other is about 3,800 feet north of Bailey Hill Road Road on the east side of SR 491. Dr. Richard Henry, a member of the zoning board, told The Times Monday, that the board briefly discussed the possibility of eliminating public hearings at its last meeting. Also discussed was what else could be done to create the "least amount of furor" at the board's meetings, he said. Those meetings often drag on past midnight when controversial items are on the agenda. See ZONING. Pag 7 Commission to consider the need for more transportation money By DIANNE STALLINGS Harnando Tlmaa Staff Wrhar BROOKSVILLE The agenda of the Hernando County Commission is packed today with items ranging from a discussion of possible new operating hours for its motor vehicle inspection station to a need for more money for a local transportation service. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the Ayers Building on BrooksviUe Avenue. County Administrator James Cummings has recommended against a proposal by State Rep. Charles R. Smith, D-Brooksville, that the commission consider taking over regulatory responsibilities for water and sewer utilities in the county from the Florida Public Service Commission. The staff recommends that the board decline to pursue this transfer of responsibility at this time due to its unfeasibility because of the cost of operating the utilities," summary of the recommendation states. A REQUEST will be considered from the Istachatta-Nobleton Recreation Advisory Board that all revenue derived from the rental of that community's poet office property be used for maintenance of its recreation building. The commission also has received the resignations of Susan Mills and James Howard from the Istachatta-Nobleton board effective June 1 and May 4, respectively. Cunnings has recommended that the commission post a 15 mph speed limit on the CR 595 bridge at Rogers Park in Weeki Wachee Gardens to discourage speeding. He has also recommended reducing the speed limit on Spring Hill Boulevard from Deltona Boulevard to Linden Drive from 50 mph to 40 mph. The commission is expected to set a public hearing date for adoption of a new ordinance, replacing an existing one that spells out the responsibilities of the county's Aviation Authority. The new duties would be limited to aviation-related items and the authority would not be directly involved in industrial development as it was in the put Motor Vehicle Inspection Supervisor Jack McGee, in response to a request from the commission to revamp his operating hours, has contended that changes would be impossible without paying overtime or adding personnel. See COMMISSION, Page 5 Times DIGEST Lisenby moved to Citrus County jail for arraignment Soldier of fortune Robert Lee Lisenby, transported from the Dade County jail, arriving at 3 p.m. Monday at the Citrus County jail for an arraignment scheduled for today. He was arrested about two months ago on a trespassing charge while on mercenary training exercises on the 1 3,500-acre Hollinswood Ranch. Twelve of the 1 3 men arrested in March were arraigned May 5 and pleaded innocent to the charges in Citrus County Court. Lisenby was arrested in Miami one month ago after he and Joseph Franklin Camper were reportedly found there with automatic weapons and explosives. After the arraignment Lisenby will be taken back to the Dade County jail. High Point Christian Women's Club brunch planned May 21 The first brunch of the High Point Christian Women's Club is scheduled for 9:30-1 1 :30 a.m. May 2 1 at the Elks' Club on State Road 50 W opposite Brookridge subdivision. Tickets are $3.50. The club is part of an international nonsectarian organization with headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. More than 2,000 of its groups meet monthly in the United States, Canada and around the world. The special feature of this meeting will be vacation travel tips from the Spring Hill Travel Service in the Spring Hill Shopping Plaza. Becky Cadotte will perform a vocal solo and Janet Retterbush, a former alcohol and drug counselor from Georgia, will present the story of how Christian Women's clubs began more than 40 years ago. A free nursery and a snack will be provided for children at Mariner United Methodist Church on Mariner Boulevard, one block south of State Road 50. All women of High Point and Brookridge end surrounding areas are invited to attend. Reservations can be made through May 1 8 by calling 596-6 1 92 or 596-2386. Senior club's ladies auxiliary will have car wash Saturday Members of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Senior Citizens Club of Hernando County will be armed with sponges and buckets for a car wash starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at Mom and Pop's Amoco Station at the intersection of U.S. 19 and Applegate Drive in Spring Hill. Proceeds will go to the club's building fund.

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