Bookmark and Share

rss logo Top Orlando Area Local News Stories

Source: Top Stories

Small Florida town copes with mass slaying

<p> The small town of Bell, Florida, is trying to come to grips with a horrific mass slaying that left <a href="http://www.clickorlando.com/news/reports-of-mass-shooting-in-north-florida/28140984" target="_blank">six children and two adults dead</a>.</p><p> The Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office believes 51-year-old Don Charles Spirit shot and killed his daughter and her six children before killing himself Thursday afternoon.</p><p> The shooting happened at a home in Bell, which is located in Gilchrist County in north-central Florida, about 140 miles from Orlando.</p><p> Inside the home, deputies said they found the bodies of Spirit, his 28-year-old daughter, Sarah Lorraine Spirit, and his six grandchildren.  The grandchildren were identified as 2-month-old Alanna Stewart, 4-year-old Brandon Stewart, 5-year-old Destiny Stewart, 8-year-old Johnathon Kuhlmann, 9-year-old Kylie Kuhlmann and 11-year-old Kaleb Kuhlmann.</p><p> Gilchrist County Sheriff Robert Schultz held a news conference Friday, asking for prayers for the community, especially for the families of the victims and children who live in the town.</p><p> “Everyone knows everyone,” said Schultz, adding that 16,000 people live in the entire county.  “We refuse to let this define us.  Our focus is on the children.”</p><p> Schultz said he could not divulge information about the father or fathers of the children.</p><p> School Superintendent Robert Rankin also spoke at the news conference, saying grief counselors were at Bell Elementary School, which houses about 540 students, on Friday to help students cope with the tragedy.</p><p> “Everybody grieves different,” Rankin said.  “We’re trying to meet their needs.”</p><p> Rankin described the slain children as "happy-go-lucky kids," and said there was no known evidence that any of them was dealing with potential issues at home.</p><p> </p><p> “As you can imagine, this has been a tough day for the school district," Rankin said.  “We pray that God will be with us in the days ahead."</p><p> Rankin said a teacher told him that she put the children on a school bus at 3 p.m.  The shootings occurred about an hour later.</p><p> The Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office said late Thursday that it received a 911 call around 4 p.m. from the Spirit, who said that he had harmed others and was going to harm himself.</p><p> Schultz said deputies have been called to the home before on multiple occasions and that Spirit had a criminal history.</p><p> "He was not a legal gun owner," Schultz said.</p><p> Schultz also said Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled to visit Bell on Friday.</p><p> The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the mass shooting.</p><p> In 2001, Spirit accidentally shot and killed his 8-year-old son, Kyle, during a hunting trip to Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area near Kenansville in Osceola County, according to officials.  During a walk through the woods, Spirit pointed out some rust on the muzzle of a gun and it fired, hitting Kyle in the head, officials said.</p><p> Spirit was sentenced to three years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm.  He pleaded guilty in exchange for a minimum sentence just as his trial was about to begin.</p><p> After the incident, the family moved from Tampa to Bell.</p><p> Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this developing story.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:20:29 GMT

Port Orange 'Santa' bank robber gets 8 years in prison

<p> A Port Orange man <a href="http://www.clickorlando.com/news/police-man-dressed-as-santa-robs-port-orange-bank/23629068" target="_blank">who robbed a bank in December 2013 dressed as Santa Claus</a> has been sentenced to eight years in prison.</p><p> <a href="/news/28150088" target="_blank">Mark Neal London</a>, 64, pleaded no contest to the felony charges stemming from his robbery of a Port Orange SunTrust Bank, the state attorney's office said on Friday.</p><p> Two days before Christmas, London went to the SunTrust on Nova Road in Port Orange dressed as Santa Claus and carrying a gift-wrapped box he purported to be a bomb.</p><p> He demanded money from the teller, threatening to detonate the bomb if she didn’t comply, officials said. He was tracked down by police, arrested and his house was searched.</p><p> London was convicted of robbery, displaying a hoax bomb, possession of a schedule I substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.</p><p> London faced a maximum possible penalty of 35 years in prison, but a plea deal capped the maximum penalty at 10 years in prison.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 16:08:32 GMT

1-year-old's death ruled homicide; $5,000 reward offered

<p> Groveland police are seeking the public's help in solving the homicide of a 1-year-old boy who died in February.</p><p> Carter Godwin died February 21 at a home in the Cranes Landing subdivision on Whooping Drive, according to Groveland police.</p><p> The medical examiner determined months later that Carter died from blunt-force trauma to the abdomen, and his death was ruled a homicide, police said.  The ME said the injury was not consistent with an accident and occurred some time before February 21.</p><p> Groveland police Lt. Anthony Biasella said Carter was being babysat by his grandparents, who live in Groveland, when he died.  The boy's mother lives in Orlando, Biasella said.</p><p> Police said everyone who had contact with the child around the time of his death is considered a person of interest, but he added that investigators have no leads or suspects in the case.</p><p> "Groveland detectives need citizen assistance to solve the homicide of 1-year-old Carter Godwin," police said in a news release.  "Detectives urge anyone with information concerning Carter Godwin to call Crimeline (at 800-423-TIPS)."</p><p> Tipsters can remain anonymous and anyone who provides information that leads to solving the case could be eligible for up to $5,000.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:06:54 GMT

Principal's husband banned from Port Orange school

<p> The Volusia County School District banned the husband of the principal at Cypress Creek Elementary school after Port Orange Police arrested him on school grounds because he wasn't acting normal.</p><p> Parents at Cypress Creek said they're concerned about their children's safety after police said 36-year-old Christian Russell showed up to campus and started acting strange.</p><p> Police said he admitted to being depressed about job and money issues but never intended to harm anyone including himself.</p><p> However, the arrest, which happened just a week before school was back in session, made parents uneasy, so the district sent a letter to Russell and banned him from campus. Police said when they arrested Russell, they found prescription pills and a large pair of scissors on him.</p><p> But this isn't his latest arrest. Ormond Beach police said a pharmacist at Walgreens caught him on Sept. 9 trying to forge a prescription.</p><p> Police said he did it at least four times last month and requested the drug amphetamine salts. They said he printed out a blank prescription, wrote it out and had it filled.</p><p> Russell faces several charges including possession of blank prescription form and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. He has since bonded out of jail.</p><p> Local 6 called the school principal and left a message but has not heard back as of Thursday evening.</p><p> On Thursday night, the elementary school had open house. Parents said there was an expert there to talk about school security.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Sep 2014 23:08:32 GMT

Celebrity motorcycle builder Billy Lane freed from prison

<p> Billy Lane is a free man.</p><p> The celebrity motorcycle builder, whose custom work earned the Melbourne-based designer several spots on reality television, has been formally freed from an Orlando work release program Thursday as part of the completion of his sentence on a vehicular homicide charge, the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed.</p><p> Lane's criminal defense attorney Greg Eisenmenger told Local 6 News partner Florida Today that Thursday was the day that Lane was to be freed but that he had not heard from his client.</p><p> "He probably has been. I know he was excited about this all coming to an end," Eisenmenger said. Lane also used the time in the minimum security facility to help others, including youth who were brought to him to talk about his experience in the criminal justice system. Lane was sentenced in 2009 to state prison and was later assigned to the work release program.</p><p> "He had adjusted very well, interacting with other inmates and volunteering, rebuilding equipment and using his mechanical skills. I'm sure he's wanting to get back to designing motorcycles -- that's his love."</p><p> Lane, 44, was best known for his appearances on "Monster Garage" and "Biker Build-Off," both reality-based shows. Lane, who previously owned Choppers Inc. in Melbourne, developed a strong cult following among motorcycle aficionados. His career came to a halt in September 2006, when Lane crashed his pickup head-on into 56-year-old Sebastian Inlet State Park ranger Gerald Morelock's small Yamaha motorcycle on a darkened road.</p><p> Morelock was killed. Lane, traveling with a passenger at the time, was speeding past slow traffic in a no-pass zone on State Road A1A south of Melbourne Beach when the accident happened, police said.</p><p> Lane, who owned a shop in Melbourne, pleaded no contest in June 2009 to one count of vehicular homicide. Prosecutors agreed to drop a DUI manslaughter charge as part of a plea deal.</p><p> A Facebook group named "Free Billy Lane" boasts more than 3,200 members, many of them showing support for his release. Those posting on the fan site were enthusiastic about Lane's release.</p><p> "Well it has been a long time coming. Tomorrow is finally the day. Seems like I just started this page yesterday but in fact it was 08/14/2009 on the day Billy went in. It has at times been a bit to keep up with every day with over 3000 of you and a million spammers," said poster Shawn Darby. "But now Billy will turn the page to the next chapter. Lets all give him some Family (sic) time and keep his recovery in our prayers. Thanks to all of you for taking this ride with me, I know many of you made him aware of our campaign to support him. Lets see what he has up his sleeve next. Much Love & Respect to you all."</p><p> Wade Wamsley, another Facebook poster wrote on the fan site's wall, "Today's the day billy gets out."</p><p> "Today is going to be a GREAT day!!! Welcome home Billy :)" said Jennifer Santolucito, another fan.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:26:09 GMT

First iPhone 6 buyer in Australia drops it on live TV

<p> Homer Simpson would give this a double "Doh!"</p><p> The first person to buy an iPhone 6 in Perth, Australia, early Friday actually dropped it while being interviewed on live TV.</p><p> The young man, named Jack, and a news reporter struggled to cut the plastic off the box. As Jack excitedly opened it, the phone fell out and hit the concrete.</p><p> The reporter responded with an expletive. The crowd behind him screamed in "horror."</p><p> "All good, all good," Jack said.</p><p> It appears the phone did, in fact, survive the fall. It looked unscathed as Jack carefully put it back in the box.</p><p> Watch the funny video below or by tapping <a href="http://www.9news.com.au/technology/2014/09/19/10/37/first-iphone-6-bought-in-perth-is-dropped-on-ground" target="_blank">here</a>:</p><p> </p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:16:40 GMT

Photos: Florida mug shots

<p> Here's a look at some of the individuals who have been arrested recently in the Sunshine State.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:03:36 GMT

Where are 'Who's the Boss?' stars now?

<p> With Saturday marking the 30th anniversary of the debut of "Who's the Boss?," join us for a look at what the cast of the classic '80s sitcom are up to today.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 06:00:00 GMT

Man catches 17-foot anaconda with bare hands

<p> A math teacher in French Guiana managed to capture a 17-foot anaconda with his bare hands and relocate the reptile after it ate his friend's dog.</p><p> Sebastien Bascoules, 39, was filmed hauling the massive snake out of a river near his home, clamping its jaws shut with his hands while his friend held the tail.</p><p> He then blindfolded the snake with a hood so it couldn't bite anyone.</p><p> Since it was late in the day, Bascoules decided to keep the reptile in his bathtub until he could release it the next morning, Barcroft Media reported.</p><p> "My wife was very, really happy," he joked.</p><p> The next day, Bascoules drove the anaconda to a swamp 6 miles away and released it into a river that's farther away from people.</p><p> Watch video of the encounter below or by tapping <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HKMIp5sXEk" target="_blank">here</a>:</p><p> </p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 14:43:15 GMT

Space X sending mice to International Space Station

<p> NASA and SpaceX remain on track for a 2:14 a.m. Saturday launch from Cape Canaveral of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule packed with 2.5 tons of International Space Station cargo.</p><p> There's a 50 percent chance of favorable weather for the instantaneous window at Launch Complex 40. Thick clouds and showers could be a concern, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.</p><p> SpaceX last night completed a test-firing of the rocket's nine main engines, a standard pre-launch test. Launch readiness reviews are planned this afternoon.</p><p> The resupply mission is SpaceX's fourth of 12 planned under a $1.6 billion NASA contract, and comes days after NASA awarded the Hawthorne, Calif., company a contract worth up to $2.6 billion to fly astronauts to the station in an upgraded Dragon as soon as 2017.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:39:00 GMT

Man asked for spare change, robbed victim, West Melbourne police say

<p> West Melbourne police are searching for the culprit they say cut and robbed a man walking down the street on Wednesday night.</p><p> Police said the robbery occurred on Doherty Drive in the area of Windover Square Shopping Center.</p><p> The man walked up to the 41-year-old victim and asked if he had any spare change, according to police. When the victim pulled money out of his pocket, the man reached for the money and a struggle ensued, police said.</p><p> The victim told police that he felt a sharp pain in his abdominal area and discovered he had been cut. He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.</p><p> Police released a composite sketch of the suspected robber on Friday. The man was described as white, in his early 30s with four days' facial hair growth, curly blond hair, green or blue eyes with brown eyebrows, 6 feet tall and wearing "desert camo pants" and a white T-shirt.</p><p> Contact Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS if you have any information on the robbery.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:14:56 GMT

Man caught trying to hide in plane wheel well at OIA

<p> Police say a man broke into Orlando International Airport and hid in the wheel well of a plane on Thursday.</p><p> Orlando police said Demetrice Hall, 32, was found in a restricted area by breaching the fence near OIA. Once Hall was inside, he tried to crawl into the wheel well of a parked airplane when he was discovered by JetBlue workers.</p><p> Hall was found not wearing a shirt or shoes and covered in a greasy substance, police said.  He told police he worked at JetBlue and wanted to get to New York.</p><p> FBI agents, along with other law enforcement representatives, were called about the breach, and it was determined that the Orlando Police Department would lead the investigation.</p><p> No flights were affected by the incident and police determined Hall posed no threat to the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority security system.</p><p> Police charged Hall with trespassing, burglary and loitering and prowling. He was taken to Orange County Jail.</p><p> Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.</p>

Published: Thu, 18 Sep 2014 22:31:03 GMT

Pics: Cirque du Soleil in Orlando

<p> Celebrating 30 year, Cirque du Soleil's comes to town with "Varekai," which debuted at Amway Center.  Take a look at the show here.</p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 13:27:09 GMT

Best ways to start every work day

<p> Morning routines are crucial for work day success, according to some career experts. Take a look at the most important things you should do at the start of every work day. </p>

Published: Fri, 19 Sep 2014 06:00:00 GMT