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Man finds snake in Fla. home and it’s been living there for years

A Florida man found an unusual squatter, make that slitherer, making itself comfortable in the attic of his home, and animal experts say it has been there for years.

>> Read more trending news 

Bob van der Herchen’s son and wife have been complaining that they’ve been hearing something moving in the attic of their Englewood home, WFLA reported.

He finally went up to take a look, and to his surprise found a large boa constrictor. 

A snake trapper was called in and had some bad news for the family. The snake wasn’t a new resident, but had been living there between two to four years. He even found some shed skin, WFLA reported.

He believes that it was someone’s pet at one point and got into their home from a tree branch that was hanging close to the house. 

Toilet flush delays thousands of passengers at Florida airport, officials say

A single flush of a toilet at Florida's Orlando International Airport over the weekend ended up delaying thousands of passengers as a hazmat team cleaned up sewage that flowed into one of the airport’s customs areas.

>> Watch the news report here

An investigation is ongoing into what caused the toilet issue, but it appears someone was trying to flush the contents of a suitcase, officials said.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

The flooding caused passengers flying into Orlando from outside the country to be bused to a customs area on the opposite side of the airport Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Traveler Mike Ortiz said getting through the ordeal took a lot of time.

>> Read more trending news

“As soon as we landed, they immediately told us that there were problems with the terminal and we would have to sit there on the tarmac for a while,” he said. “There were carpets ripped up and there were floor fans trying to air out what was, I guess, some flooding going on.”

Officials at the airport said they were still looking into what was flushed and who flushed it, but their immediate efforts had been to get the customs area reopened.

Sister of Florida murder suspect also jailed in unrelated killing

 

The sister of a Florida murder suspect is also jailed and facing charges in an unrelated killing.

>> Read more trending news

Jacksonville restaurant manager Lee Rodarte, 28, was arrested Saturday in the disappearance and killing last week of Bonefish Grill colleague Savannah Gold, 21. Police said Rodarte admitted to killing Gold, and led police to her body on Saturday. 

Rodarte’s sister, Amber Camarillo, 26, is jailed in connection with a 2016 killing at a Jacksonville motel.

Camarillo allegedly shot and killed Raquel Lee Wallace, 32, last December at a Super 8 Motel after a disagreement over a car, police said. Motel surveillance video shows the two women talking. It also shows Camarillo firing at least two shots at Wallace.

>> Related: Mom of missing 21-year-old: ‘I just want to know where she is’

Rodarte made a court appearance on Sunday and is charged with murder in Gold’s death.

MTV's 'Siesta Key' star under investigation for shark-shooting video

Florida wildlife officials are investigatingviral video that appears to show Alex Kompothecras of MTV’s show “Siesta Key” shooting a shark.

>> See a news report that includes an edited version of the clip (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

According to the Bradenton Herald and New York Post, the video was circulated online over the past few days and has been drawing outrage. It shows a man wearing a red hat shooting a shark in the gills twice before laughing as it dangled helplessly on a fishing line. The man in the video is reportedly believed to be Kompothecras, who was previously pictured wearing the same “Make America Great Again” hat and posing with a dead hammerhead on MTV’s Facebook page.

>> VIDEO: Man shoots shark with gun, laughs as it bleeds

Kompothecras later deleted the video and other offensive images of wildlife from his Instagram page, telling People, “There are images of me, and I feel horrible.”

>> Man in shark-dragging video asks for increased police patrols

“I’ve made my share of bad decisions, and I feel horrible, but all I can say is that I would not make those decisions again,” he told People. “I was being stupid, but I’ve grown from that. It’s an eye-opener for me because it’s made me think long and hard about things I’ve done, and I’ve learned from that. This has all been a shocking experience.”

>> Watch: Shark dragged by boaters; FWC investigates

The video comes just after another video showing a shark being dragged to death by a boat went viral. Kompothecras reportedly has admitted to knowing the man responsible for that incident but said that he doesn’t “agree with what he did.”

>> Read more trending news

While it’s legal to shoot sharks in federal waters, it’s illegal to do so in Florida waters.

71-year-old wife killer on parole, charged in new killing because he was ‘rejected’

A 71-year-old Florida man, who served 15 years in prison for killing his estranged wife, confessed Wednesday to stabbing his 42-year-old roommate because he has "a hard time being rejected,"according to a Bradenton newspaper.

>> Read more trending news

Warren Birkbeck, who was sent to prison in 2000 and paroled in 2015 in New Hampshire for the 1999 stabbing death of his estranged wife, was living with the 42-year-old victim and another woman in Holiday on Florida's Gulf Coast when the stabbing occurred early Wednesday morning hours.

He told authorities after his arrest that he became upset when he overheard the victim, Denise Cook, talking to a man on the phone. He barged into her bedroom, and grabbed a knife after she told him to leave, the Bradenton Herald reported.

Birkbeck stabbed Cook "approximately three to four times in the chest," according to the arrest affidavit. When asked by authorities why he killed Cook, Birkbeck told police: "I just have a hard time being rejected."

He reportedly told a 911 operator: "I just had to. I just flipped out tonight and I ended up killing her."

Birkbeck was on probation until 2029 in the second-degree murder of his estranged wife. He was also convicted of manslaughter in Massachusetts in 1962, according to New Hampshire news outlets. 

Neighbors told Bay New 9 that they had no idea of Birkbeck's background. "It's just shocking because you never know who's living right next door to you," one said.

>> Related: FBI: Man said he killed wife on Princess Cruise ship for ‘laughing at him’

At the crime scene Wednesday, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco held a press conference, lamenting the "horrific day" for the victim's family. "We just hope that people pray for her." 

As for Birkbeck, the sheriff said: "No other way to say it. He’s a killer."

Florida man, 73, banned from beaches for 'seeking his sugarbaby,' officials say

A 73-year-old Daytona Beach, Florida, man was banned from all Volusia County beaches for six months recently after he was accused of handing out business cards that said, “Sugardaddy seeking his sugarbaby.”

Richard G. Basaraba was confronted by Volusia County Beach Safety officers Saturday after a mother complained that her 16-year-old daughter had received one of the business cards, an incident report said.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

The girl told investigators that Basaraba came up to her and a group of her friends and handed one the card, the report said.

While her friends were 18 years old, the girl said she told Basaraba that she was 16, officials said.

He is accused of continuing to talk to the girl, and at one point, he pulled out a bra padding he was carrying, “saying he was looking for someone who would fill it,” the report said.

Basaraba told the girl, “You would be perfect,” the report said.

>> Read more trending news

Officers stopped Basaraba as he was walking on North Atlantic Avenue.

When one asked him if he knew why he was being stopped, Basaraba said, “Yes, I was talking to some young females on the beach that were all over 18 years old,” the incident report said.

Basaraba was ordered to stay away from all Volusia County beaches, including walkovers and approaches, for six months for violating a county ordinance prohibiting solicitation on the beach, officers said.

Runaway dog turns up eight years later to owner’s amazement

A Florida woman thought her dog was gone for good when it ran away eight years ago, but then she got a phone call that she’ll never forget. 

>> Read more trending news

On June 30 around 3 a.m., a Lee County animal control officer called Louise Friedlander to tell her, Tessa, her Yorkshire terrier, who ran away in 2009, was found wandering outside a fire department near Fort Myers. 

"I said, 'Tessa, it's Mama!' She jumped up on the cage and she wagged her tail and licked my hand and she smiled, like a Pepsodent smile," Friedlander told the Naples Daily News.

Tessa went missing on Father’s Day eight years ago when someone left a gate open while Friedlander was at Fort Myers Beach, according to the Daily News

Friedlander said she spent hours looking for the little terrier when she first disappeared, and spent the next few months posting newspaper ads and flyers in several neighborhoods. 

>> Related: Dog returns after spending 9 months lost in mountains

"I never thought she would come back," Friedlander said. 

Tessa received shots and was spayed, and is now back home with an amazed Friedlander.

Read more here.

Florida eatery closed by roach infestation tries to hide health warning with sign

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A Florida restaurant was caught trying to cover up a health inspector’s sign after it was shut down by a cockroach infestation, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

>> Read more trending news

Inspectors forced Jaxon Social in in Jacksonville Beach to close on July 18 after they found 23 live roaches and 35 dead roaches in the kitchen.

“It’s eat up with roaches,” said former Jaxon Social cook Brian Lee.

A former employee later sent ActionNewsJax.com a photo that showed a handwritten sign on the restaurant’s door. It covered the orange health notice left by inspectors.

The handwritten sign said, “Closed for technical difficulties.”

Officials said an inspector found the covered sign during a recent follow-up inspection. Kathleen Keenan, deputy director of communications for DBPR, said a division inspector spoke to the restaurant’s operator, and the health notice has since been properly displayed.

The restaurant has undergone at least seven inspections since it was closed. An inspector determined as recently as Wednesday that there were still too many live roaches to reopen the restaurant.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

“If you open one of the refrigerator doors and pop open the seal, they fall out like,” Lee said. “It’s like you’ve torn the corner off a bag of Skittles. It’s disgusting.”

The restaurant’s owner said exterminators were brought into the restaurant Wednesday and that it should reopen after another inspection Friday.

The owner said that the restaurant be re-branded before it opens again.

According to Department of State records, the restaurant is licensed as KC Crave, LLC.

Woman shocked by what doctor left inside her after giving birth 

A Florida woman gave birth in mid-July, but she said she ended up back in the hospital weeks later because of a doctor’s mistake

>> Read more trending news

After Jamila Smith gave birth to her son, Aiden, she needed surgery to stop the bleeding. That’s when Smith claims a doctor at Jackson South left an object inside her, according to WSVN

“There was pain and pressure to the point where I wouldn’t be able to, sometimes, like, hard to move to get the baby, moving around, stuff, you know,” Smith said.

Doctors then discovered a piece of gauze inside her that measured a foot long and could have caused an infection or other complications. 

“It looked like, almost like a long piece of snake,” Smith’s husband, Alaunta, told WSVN

>> Related: Florida woman arrested after giving birth to 11-year-old’s child

Jackson Health System released the following statement to WSVN:

“Our healthcare teams are always deeply affected when their patients suffer complications after procedures … like all top medical systems, we investigate every complication and use those results to constantly improve.”

Read more here.

 

4-foot-long Nile monitor lizard living in family's Florida attic

A Florida family discovered a 4-foot monitor lizard living in their attic earlier this week.

“The thing was huge! I thought I saw a ghost or something,” Danny To, of Cape Coral, told WFTX.

>> Read more trending news

To told the news station that he heard scratching on the roof for about nine months. His neighbor was the first to spot the large, invasive, semi-aquatic lizard and quickly told To.

Nile monitor lizards can grow up to 5 feet and weigh 15 pounds. They like to munch on small animals, fish and eggs.

This job, To surmised, would be much harder than setting up a few traps, so he sought help from a professional.

Ned Bruha, of the Wildlife Whisperer, checked out the home and found scratch marks on the roof, a hole and bird feathers in the attic, WFTX reported. Birds don’t naturally go in the attic, Bruha added.

He planned to patch the hole, set up cameras and hope for the best.

"This has been going on for approximately nine months, so we have no idea if there's one or 21 that call this home," Bruha told WFTX.

Read more at WFTX or at Florida Fish and Wildlife

Alligator 'ate toes off' homeless Florida man bathing in retention pond

A homeless man was bathing in a Port Charlotte, Florida, retention pond Monday when a 9-foot-long alligator attacked him.

>> Watch the news report here

According to WFTX, the man, later identified as 68-year-old Fredric Iman, sustained injuries to his left foot, left leg, left hand and groin. Following the attack, he went to a nearby surgery center where an employee notified police.

>> Alligator halts traffic to cross Florida road

“It looks like his, his pants are torn,” the employee said during the 911 call, Fox News reported. “It ate his toes off.”

>> Alligator attacks man wading in river with daughters

Iman was then airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, and his condition has improved from serious to stable since then. Many who live near the pond were shocked to hear what had happened to him, with one woman even saying she had always looked forward to seeing the alligator, which she had named Charlie.

“I’m a little upset because the gator is probably going to be euthanized,” Lisa Posten told WWSB. “People that live in Florida, they know not to go in these waters, this is where these gators live.”

>> Read more trending news

The alligator was removed from the scene and reportedly will be euthanized.

Florida man takes elderly neighbors hostage in bizarre attack over cup of salt

An elderly Florida couple was held hostage by their neighbor who asked to borrow a cup of salt on Friday, authorities said. 

>> Read more trending news

Louis and Irene Rosen, of Tamarac, invited their neighbor’s son, Leonard Benitez, inside to give him salt. But, Benitez then threatened the couple with a knife and gun, a Broward Sheriff’s spokeswoman told WPLG

Benitez, 45, reportedly demanded $50,000 and the couple’s banking information before hitting 99-year-old Louis Rosen in the head with the gun. 

Irene Rosen called 911 and escaped, but her husband was held hostage for two hours, according to WPLG

Benitez eventually surrendered and was charged with home invasion, battery, false imprisonment of an adult and kidnapping.

>> Related: Florida man livestreams his ‘crash parade’ while recklessly driving down beach

He’s jailed without  bond. 

Read more here

Snake knocks out power for 22,000 customers in Florida

Florida's Jacksonville Electric Authority is working on changes to keep critters from knocking out residents' power.

>> Watch the news report here

A snake is being blamed for a major outage in Orange Park that left 22,000 customers in the dark.

JEA officials said the snake came into contact with a high voltage circuit breaker.

A wildlife trapper said it was a red rat snake.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

“This time of year the snakes are really bad,” neighbor Cynthia Surrency said.

>> See the photo here

This is not the first time a snake has caused an outage.

In July 2014, a snake got into a transformer and caused a brief power outage at the St Johns Town Center.

Then in September 2015, a snake crawled into a transformer in Clay Electric’s Double Branch substation and caused an outage that left 5,000 customers in the dark for an hour.

Two weeks later, another snake caused a power outage that affected thousands of customers in the northern part of Clay County.

>> Read more trending news

Action News Jax asked JEA if anything is being done to prevent this from happening again.

Officials said animal guards and fiberglass brackets are being installed on distribution lines to help prevent contact between animals and energized equipment.

They also say the company is also working to prevent bird nests in substations because eggs attract hungry snakes.

JEA said on average, animals cause one outage once every two or three years inside a substation.

Fake engineer arrested after trying to nab $33 million construction contract

A Florida woman is facing charges for allegedly trying to win a $33 million construction project with a fake engineering degree.

>> Read more trending news

Janet Maria LeGrand, 46, was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail on Wednesday on a charge of organized scheme to defraud, according to an arrest report obtained by the Miami Herald

LeGrand is listed as the president/CEO of Bleu Network Inc., which was one of three bidders for a project to revitalize an area in Homestead, in south Florida.

She “methodically created an elaborate facade to make the Bleu Network Inc. appear to be a large, reputable company,” investigators said.

The Herald also reported police records show LeGrand has a probation violation for writing bad checks and for failure to disclose “eight civil lawsuits and 15 wage complaints against her.”

Bleu Network’s website also included several allegedly false statements, such as LeGrand being a University of Miami graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and her company having offices in South America.

>> Related: Boy, 3, dies after drowning in Florida canal

LeGrand reportedly also has an active lawsuit against the city that contend bidding on the Homestead project was not conducted properly. 

Read more here.  

 

Beauty queen’s assault charge dropped under ’Stand Your Ground’ law

A Florida judge dismissed charges Wednesday against a former beauty queen, who was arrested for clubbing a guest with an aluminum bat at her holiday party last December 

>> Read more trending news

Former Miss Miami Lakes Vanessa Barcelo’s lawyer argued that Barcelo acted in self-defense under the state’s “Stand Your Grand” law, the Miami Herald reported. 

The incident happened during a Dec. 21 party Barcelo held at her Hialeah home to promote her cake business.

She testified that during the party, local disc jockey David Duperon tried to take advantage of her inebriated cousin, according to the Miami Herald

This eventually led to Barcelo and her friends trying to get Duperon to leave the party. Barcelo said she swung a bat near the crowd and slapped Duperon’s face. During the scuffle, Duperon got possession of the bat. 

>> Related: Pageant winner arrested after attacking man with baseball bat

“I was scared for myself and everyone who was there,” Barcelo said. 

“I was afraid that I would get hit with the bat. I didn't know what else could have happened.”

Barcelo was facing charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Read more here

WATCH: Florida man shoots AT&T work trucks parked in front of his home, police say

A Florida man angry about the AT&T work trucks parked in front of his home took matters into his own hands and opened fire on the vehicles' tires and engines, police said.

>> Watch the news report here

According to WFOR, Jorge Jove, 64, confronted the workers outside his Hialeah home about 11 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

>> Read more trending news

"AT&T bucket trucks were working on some overhead phone lines on utility poles,” said Hialeah police Sgt. Carl Zogby. "The owner of the house came out. He was upset the trucks were parked in front of his house, asked them to move. They said, 'We'll move in a few minutes, we’re just working on the poles. We’re supposed to be here.'"

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

Police said that's when Jove, a former Miami-Dade firefighter, went back inside, got a gun and began shooting at the trucks, according to WSVN.

The shocking moment was captured on cellphone video as one of the AT&T employees called 911.

"There's a guy shooting out my tires!" the worker says in the clip as a man – presumably Jove – is shown approaching and shooting at the vehicles, the Miami Herald reported.

>> Click here to watch

Police said Jove fired 18 or more shots, WSVN reported. No one was hurt in the incident.

Jove was arrested and faces charges of aggravated assault with a firearm and felony vandalism, WFOR reported.

Read more here or here.

Victim crushed by 7,000-pound metal pipe hitting his van, making miraculous recovery

A man who survived a 7,000 pound metal pipe crushing his van while he was driving on a Florida highway has a long road to recovery. 

>> Read more trending news

Jesus Armando Escobar, 36, has a broken neck and several scrapes and bruises, his attorney told WFTV.

Antonio Santiago Wharton, 33, of Kissimmee, was driving a Mack truck loaded down with scrap metal through Orange County Sunday morning. 

As he negotiated a curve, he lost control of his truck, hit the guardrail and overturned, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. 

A 7,000 pound metal pipe flew off Wharton’s truck, tumbled off the highway overpass and landed squarely on the roof of Escobar’s Pontiac Van.

>> Related: Orlando man miraculously survives van being crushed by falling scrap metal

The force of the impact crushed the driver side roof of the van, troopers said. 

Wharton was ticketed for careless driving.

 

Frozen Italian sausages fall from sky onto Florida family's home

In something out of a scene from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” a South Florida family awoke to frozen Italian sausage on their roof.

The Adair family, of Deerfield Beach, woke up Saturday morning to the loud thud of several packages of frozen Italian sausage banging against the roof, according to WPLG.

>> Read more trending news

"It was like thunder, and it awakened me out of a sleep," Travis Adair told WPLG.

After finding two packages of the meat in their yard, the family checked their roof and found three more packages. In total, 15 pounds of sausage somehow ended up striking their home.

The packages were marked William Land Service, a land-clearing company from Alabama, according to WPLG.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

"I called them and the guy had no idea what I was talking about and probably thought I was crazy," Travis’ son Austin Adair told WPLG.

Baffled by the discovery, the family thinks the meat drop was either connected to a drug deal or fell from a plane. 

67-year marriage crumbles, divorce reads like thriller with sex, greed, deceit

Beginning with a dream, a typewriter, a Brownie camera and rubber cement, Burt and Lucille Handelsman built a real estate empire that encompasses some of the toniest shops on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, restaurants in Delray Beach, bars in Key West and retail complexes in upstate New York.

>> Read more trending news

Then, last year, after 67 years of marriage, Lucille, known as “Lovey,” filed for divorce. 

With an estimated $750 million in far-flung real estate holdings at stake, the 88-year-old Lovey knew she had made a seismic decision and prepared for the worst.

As she expected, the divorce now unfolding in Palm Beach County Circuit Court is likely to be one for the record books, even in a county where contentious multi-million-dollar divorces are as common as shoes at Jimmy Choo — one of the Handelsmans’ Worth Avenue tenants.

>> Related: Florida multi-millionaire sues his kids, contending they stole money from his companies

Burt Handelsman, 89, responded to his wife’s action by refusing to move out of their Worth Avenue apartment and balking at her request for temporary support. He then sued the couple’s three adult children, claiming they pushed their mother to divorce him as part of a twisted plan to line their own pockets. Not to be outdone, the children sued back, claiming their father bilked them out of roughly $8 million.

Read more here.

WATCH: Chick-fil-A protesters covered in fake blood disrupt Cow Appreciation Day

A group of protesters picked one of the busiest days of the year to interrupt lunch at a Florida Chick-fil-A.

>> Read more trending news

The incident, which was captured on video and uploaded to Facebook, showed a number of people in cow suits covered in fake blood entering a Chick-fil-A near Tampa.

>> Watch the viral video here

Customer Tina Leacock, who was in the fast-food restaurant with her kids, took video of the incident, which happened on Cow Appreciation Day.

A restaurant manager called 911, but the protesters had already left by the time police arrived, WTVT reported.

“We came in there with the approach to show the reality of this is what’s happening to these animals,” Kayla Leaming, an organizer with Direct Action Everywhere, told WTVT.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Chick-fil-A giving free food to cow-costumed customers on Cow Appreciation Day

Leaming told the TV station: “We feel like that was feeding into the speciesism that we’re trying to fight. Speciesism is basically just the idea that one life is more important than the other, simply because of the body they were born into.”

One of the protesters had a fake knife with fake blood on it, which scared the kids, Leacock wrote on Facebook.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

“There were young children there who saw everything happen and couldn't tell the difference between it being real or fake,” Leacock wrote.

“I'm all for everyone having their own opinion, but when you come into a place full of children, with a knife in hand and proceed to cut the throats of a person dressed up as a chicken and a cow, all to get a point across, that's going [too] far,” she added.

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