WARNING: Some of the photos may be unpleasant or offensive to some readers.
SO – DO NOT READ THIS
IF YOU ARE LIKELY TO BE OFFENDED OR DISTURBED.
The Yamato Road entrance to South County Regional Park was effectively closed Wednesday around noon for over an hour after a dead body was found. Sheriff’s deputies and investigators surrounded the area with crime scene tape.
Many people are asking – We do not know the name of the victim and we do not expect PBSO to tell us.
The body was found on the east side of the road in front of a black car. You can see detectives near the body on the right side of the photo below.
The next photo shows the scene before the minivan arrived. The body was in front of the black sedan which we believe was his car.
At the time we were first notified about the incident, we did not know what the cause of death was. We arrived on the scene and notified the public of the situation by posting this video on our Facebook page:
Later we learned that the investigators determined it was a suicide. We do not normally report on suicides, but when it blocks a road or otherwise creates a scene and disturbance in the general public, we feel it is our duty to follow up and inform our readers as to what happened.
We also had an unpleasant encounter with Detective Amanda Pfeifle who did not like us taking pictures. She abused her power, expanding the crime scene tape to interfere with journalism. It didn’t work.
For the commenters who claim I was interfering with the investigation, that’s nonsense. I was far away, staying out of the way, taking pictures. They did absolutely ZERO investigation inside the area of the expanded crime scene after they moved me. I was on the scene until they starting taking the tape down. Detective Pfeifle did this only to interfere with a journalist. They had no reason to stop doing their jobs to bother me. Police abuse of journalists is a longstanding problem in the US, documented extensively by Photography is Not a Crime.
After a subsequent and somewhat more polite request from Detective Brian Allison, we held off on publishing this article for 24 hours to allow next of kin to be notified.
Now at this point, we must remind you again:
The photos below may be particularly disturbing or offensive to some. If you think that might be you, stop now. Do not read any further.
PBSO investigators and other staff working on the scene, with the body on the ground beyond them.
The body was removed by staff in the minivan mentioned earlier.
It gets worse. Again, do not scroll down if these might bother or offend you. We have blurred certain features.
The body was in front of what appears to be a fairly new black sedan, possibly an Infiniti Q50. Update – A reader tells us it is a first generation Hyundai Genesis (years 2009-2014).
And these are closer shots showing the body.
And the following photos were sent to us by Juliette Falcone, who was on the scene before we were.
This article was written by Michelle Cirino Yarris, a friend of West Boca News who volunteered to go the rally for us since we could not attend. This was at the Sunset Cove Amphitheater in South County Regional Park.
I went to a Donald Trump Rally. This shocked a lot of people. I have been pretty vocal about the fact I am not a Trump supporter. However, the event was a 15-minute bike ride from our house at the local county park. I probably would have gone to see most any candidate at that point.
The real reason I went is due to all comments I have seen on social media on the Trump supporters. The racist, hateful, uneducated Trump supporter. What I found was a very diverse crowd of people. First time 18-year-old voters to 80-year-old people with walkers and everything in between. I saw people I knew who were businessmen, a doctor, a teacher. Educated people. I saw people of every color. Not just a handful either. There were many legal immigrants. One young man had a sign that he made that said “Immigrants for Trump”, another had one that said “Hispanics love Trump.”
Talking to a group of young men (barely at 18), I asked why they supported Trump. Their responses were two fold. First, one told me that they are tired of all the handouts to every group. Nothing is free. Someone has to pay for it. I kid you not – an 18-year-old boy said this to me. His friends all agreed. The second most concerning issue to this group was ISIS. They are concerned for the future of our country, our world. They don’t understand why we have such an open border policy in a time when we know people are streaming in with the intent to harm our country.
The conversation that shocked me and surprised me the most was from a young man from Virginia, who knew all about the voting patterns in his state. He was 18. I would guess most adults have no idea about voting patterns and counties.
All in all, I was very surprised at the crowd. Maybe it is Boca, or maybe we are only seeing a small piece of what really is going on.
This isn’t an endorsement of Trump in any way, but a closer look at his supporters. There is a very large silent group who is afraid to come out and vocally support their candidate for fear of repercussions. Which is not the American way. Those we do hear from, who are very loud, are not representative of what I saw at the Trump rally.
Whatever your view, whoever your candidate, let your voice be heard and vote!
Voting in Palm Beach County is on Tuesday March 15, 2016 in Florida from 7am to 7pm. Local photographer Johnnie Butters also volunteered to take photos for us. He had a media pass which may have helped him get in early but severely constrained his movement and ability to get photos. Here are some of our favorite photos from his collection.
You can see all of the photos he shared with us on his Facebook post to our page or on his website. Also we saw this photo from a regular reader known as “Boca Rat” in our comments and he said we could use it in this article. We love both how it captures the size of the crowd and also that view to the west.
Michael Rance loves living in West Boca and is an avid reader of West Boca News – and commenter. We learned from Mr. Rance that the upcoming Donald Trump event in South County Regional Park has a darker side. It’s ruining the sunset.
Rance takes photographs of the gorgeous sunsets in the park as part of his regular routine.
And now his daily sunset ritual is being disrupted by thousands of Trump supporters filling the park in and around Sunset Cove Amphitheater, obviously named for its great views. Rance is concerned not only with the supporters, but with Trump’s “hate and bigotry.”
I watch sunset at sunset cove almost every day now my Sunday is f##### up because of this piece of trash
Rance really does take a lot of photos and he shares them on his BlackXeres Instagram account. He has over 1000 followers and a typical sunset photo will get dozens of likes from them, often over 100. Here’s an example:
And this is what Rance’s sunset will look like this evening:
On the bright side, Mr. Rance’s routine should return to normal on Monday. This message was not paid for by Marco Rubio nor any PACs affiliated with any candidates or party officials. If you’re angry at this article you are in serious need of a sense of humor. Thanks to Mr. Rance for playing along.
One of our regular readers connected us with a budding star who happens to live in West Boca. Christine Allocca appears in tonight’s episode of HBO’s Ballers (10:30 pm) and next week’s episode (10 pm) as well.
She moved here from Los Angeles two years ago to be closer to her family, including a sister who lives in West Boca and her mom in Coconut Creek. Allocca is happy to be living here. Life in LA was hectic and not family friendly for her 3-year-old twin girls.
In and near West Boca she enjoys a variety of things that are close and good for her kids. The first place she mentioned was the We Rock The Spectrum gym for kids. She loves the area parks including Daggerwing, the playgrounds in South County Regional Park and in Sandalfoot Park as well, and Sugar Sands Park on Military Trail.
We were surprised to hear her say she likes our beaches better. The water on our beaches is much warmer and more pleasant. We were in LA in June and it was in the 60s on the beach, so that makes sense. Allocca specifically mentioned Bathtub Reef Beach in Stuart.
That conversation triggered us to mention the dog beach in Juno Beach Jupiter. She hadn’t heard of it and thinks one of her three rescue dogs might enjoy it.
We asked her a bit about her career, which she knew was her goal at age 5: “Grandma I want to be an actress.” At age 21 she was in New York State, working at a bank while in college and she decided it was time to take her shot, so she moved to Los Angeles. Before Ballers one of her biggest career highlights was an appearance on the TV show Modern Family.
She has found work here in South Florida, including television, commercial and print. Ballers shoots in Miami. Cindy Schirmer of Stellar Talent in Miami is her agent and Lori Wyman Casting (also in Miami) helped her get on Ballers.
A few years ago she went a little outside her typical work as an actress and started making YouTube videos with a friend, Erika Schaefer. They’re pretty funny. The most popular one is below.
Get an Introduction to Canoeing on July 23rd at Daggerwing Nature Center. For ages 8+, $10 per participant. An ACA certified instructor will teach the parts and terms associated with canoeing as well as the basic skills needed to successfully navigate a canoe. Call 561-629-8760 for reservations. Go hear the Turnstiles, a Billy Joel Tribute Band on July 24th at Mizner Park Amphitheater. The free concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Blankets are chairs are welcome but no pets, umbrellas, or outside food and beverages.
Build with Lots o’LEGO Bricks on July 24th at 3 p.m. at the Glades Road Library. Ages 5 and up. Call 561-482-4554 to preregister. Try something different on July 24th at The Center Stage Performing Arts. The Sick Puppies Improv Show starts at 9:30 p.m. Center Stage is located at 7200 West Camino Real, Suite 330 in Boca Raton. Tickets are $15. Get tickets for Slightly Stoopid with the Dirty Heads and Stick Figure on July 25th at Sunset Cove Amphitheater. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Show starts at 6:30 p.m. No chairs, strollers, cameras, pets or outside food or beverages. Advance tickets are $34.50. Call ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Laugh out Loud at “The Royal Family” on July 25th at Studio One Theatre on the FAU Campus. This comedy was nominated for a TONY Award in 2010. Shows are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Call 800-564-9539 for tickets. Tickets are $20 Enjoy a night of music with Idina Menzel on July 26th at Mizner Park Amphitheater. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets at Ticketmaster. Tickets start at $70 with fees.
From Palm Beach County Parks: Local Eagle Scout Bobby Bronchick chose Daggerwing Nature Center as the location for his final Eagle Scout community service project. Bobby built four butterfly houses, a bench, and a new garbage bin. One of the butterfly houses features a see-through panel for use as an educational tool. Bobby’s project has benefited the nature center by adding elements that beautify the butterfly garden and educational enhancements for visitors. The butterfly garden and nature trails are open daily, sunrise to sunset. The exhibit building is open Wednesday-Friday, 1-4:30 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
We think Bobby is a West Boca High student, punter on the Bulls football team, and he might like cheerleaders.
If anyone has an Eagle Scout photo of Bobby, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to add that to this article.
We previously reported on two repaving projects on Cain Blvd. and Glades Road. The Cain project appears to be done, though it looks like they need to finish painting the lines.
Glades Road is up next.
The work on Cain caused significant traffic problems. We saw some long backups on Glades Road waiting to turn onto Cain, and readers reported problems getting to Eagles Landing Middle School and Sunrise Park Elementary.
The Glades Road project is bigger so we expect even more traffic problems. Below is a Google Maps rendition of that section of road along with some possible escape routes:
If you’re on the far west end of Glades or Palmetto Park, you’ll generally want to take Palmetto Park while this project is ongoing. Riverside Drive and Ponderosa are good ways to get there from Glades. If you’re going south you can continue on Ponderosa down to Judge Winikoff and get out to 441 from there.
Going north we still think Palmetto Park is the best way out, but there is one other alternative. You can go through South County Regional Park to get to Cain and Yamato. It’s normally slow going through the park so this should only be a last resort.
We expect the Glades Road project will take a few weeks.
Boca Isles is in the 33498 zip code. There are two sections, both on the west side of Cain Blvd (west of 441) and just east of South County Regional Park. Boca Isles North is south of Yamato Road and north of Old Everglades-Pump Road (aka Kimberly Blvd). Boca Isles South is south of Kimberly and a little north of Glades Road. Due to restrictions on real estate photos, we are using satellite images for this article. All such imagery and map data are from Google.
Boca Isles is zoned for Eagles Landing Middle School, and Olympic Heights High School, have an excellent reputation. Also, zip code 33428 has one of the lowest crime rates in Palm Beach County. There are many attractions nearby, such as South County Regional Park, as well as shops and restaurants.
The following homes, located in Boca Isles, sold in February and March 2015: Boca Isles North
10770 Maple Chase Drive sold for $650,000. This Mediterranean home has 5 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms. There is a large screened-in patio and a pool with a waterfall feature. Rare for West Boca, this side of the street has a large wooded area behind it. The home has been upgraded throughout and has custom kitchen cabinets, stainless steel appliances and marble flooring. The master bathroom has large vanity with double sinks and a frameless shower. The home was built in 1993 and last purchased in 1996 for $320,000.
19746 Black Olive Lane sold for $525,000. This two story home has 4 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms in 3493 sq. feet. The high end kitchen has stainless steel appliances and tile flooring. It has a private heated saltwater pool that looks gorgeous on the satellite image. Other features include an outdoor kitchen and large sun room. It was built in 1994 and purchased for $322,000 in 2000. It was last sold for $498,000 in 2013. The house is located at the southwestern corner of the community and the lot also borders Old Everglades-Pump Road near the park, so there may be traffic noise as well as noise issues from the park.
At the other end of the street and on the other side, the Mediterranean home at 19619 Black Olive Lane sold for $520,000. The home has 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms and 3493 sq. feet. It has a 3 car garage. This waterfront home has an upgraded kitchen, new roof and new carpet. It has ceramic tile floors and an open layout. It was purchased in 2011 for $450,000. The Boca Isles neighborhoods are gated communities with bike and jogging paths and they’re popular with families. Each community has a large clubhouse with meeting rooms and billiards. There are state of the art exercise rooms, basketball courts, playgrounds and tennis courts. There is also a large pool and spa. Boca Isles South
20051 Palm Island Drive sold for $560,000. The courtyard home had 4 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms in 3334 sq. feet. Built in 1995, it has and end-of-lake view along with a spa and pool. It was previously purchased in 2006 for $600,000.
20185 Ocean Key Drive, a two story home, has 5 bedrooms and 4 full bathrooms in 4384 sq. feet. Built in 1997, it has a wide lakefront view plus a pool and spa. Purchased in 2003 for $535,000, it was just sold as a short sale for $505,000.
The two story home at 19771 Dinner Key Drive sold for $495,000. The home has 4 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms in 3845 sq. feet. The home has a view of the lake and an in ground pool. The kitchen has custom cabinets, a large island and stainless steel appliances. The floors in the home are ceramic tile and carpet. It was built in 1995 for $232,000 and sold in 1999 for $305,000.
Many West Boca residents are mourning the passing of Joel Deleon, who died yesterday in a Jet Ski accident in South County Regional Park. Mr. Deleon was a graduate of Olympic Heights High School.
We were alerted to the incident by a tweet from Fire Rescue:
Fire Rescue subsequently tweeted that the missing person had been found, but there were no further official statements.
There were a number of comments from readers, including comments identifying Mr. Deleon (tagging his Facebook page) and that he had passed away.
Mr. Deleon’s Facebook page is now flooded with messages from friends. We can see dozens of them and it’s likely that there are many more we can’t see due to user privacy settings.
One friend posted this picture:
Another used this as a platform for advice, though we don’t know whether or not Mr. Deleon was wearing a life jacket:
There is also a gathering planned for tonight, posted as a Facebook event and already with dozens of people going.
And there are so many more. Here are just a few:
From West Boca News, we wish comfort to the Deleon family in this difficult time. Rest in peace Mr. Deleon.
The West Boca Community Council held its regular meeting at the Boca Lago clubhouse on Tuesday evening. A larger than usual crowd of residents heard from county officials.
President Sheri Scarborough, who is also chair of the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission, updated the audience on several changes in the works.
First, construction has started on the Rooms To Go expansion on the north side of Glades Road between 441 and Lyons. We stopped by today to see it for ourselves and our video of the work is below.
We asked inside and learned that the current 26,000 square foot space will be expanded by another 20,000 square feet. The project should take about a year. It has already been quite a while. We reported on the plans back in 2013.
Also coming is a 43-home development by GL Homes south of Eagles Landing Middle School. You can see the location on the image below (courtesy of the county appraiser’s website). South County Regional Park is on the right, and the property in question is on the lower left.
An old map of the plan, dating back to 2006 or before, is below (full pdf at bottom of this article). It’s called the Collier PUD (Planned Unit Development).
Ms. Scarborough also noted that the lights are close to ready on 441 just south of Glades Road, between Sports Authority and the Westwinds Plaza (Publix and Home Depot).
After the meeting was over we asked her about the proposed 300-townhome development on the northeast corner of Clint Moore and 441. She did not have any particular news about the proposal. The first hurdle that has to be overcome is that the property is in the “agricultural reserve.” Unlike most ag-reserve properties, however, Scarborough noted that it is surrounded by non-agricultural development (The Oaks community, the Stonebridge community, and The Reserve shopping center). There’s a process they have to go through to get reclassified out of the ag-reserve but it seems likely to West Boca News that they’ll eventually get there.
County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger spoke next.
Ms. Berger spoke in depth about the panhandling issue and what the County Commission is doing about it. She was an engaging speaker, answering many questions from the audience.
First, she explained that something is in the works. The County Attorney’s office is drafting an ordinance which is expected to go before the County Commission in April. Once it’s reviewed at that meeting it should go before the Commission again in May and if all goes well it will be approved then.
Ms. Berger was emphatic that the ordinance is not limited to vagrants and panhandlers. It is a general ordinance that will affect anyone who tries to solicit or engage in similar activities in the medians of intersections. This is an important distinction and it’s very good that she is talking about like this. If it’s done the wrong way it will be held unconstitutional.
The audience asked whether it will extend to the corners and sidewalks, but that was not clear. She said the County Attorney is working on that language.
Next up was State Attorney Dave Aronberg, the prosecutor for Palm Beach County.
Mr. Aronberg was the headline speaker in the council’s notice for this event, which said he would speak about panhandling. He did not talk about that much, but focused more generally on what he called “quality of life” crimes. The most common crime that his office deals with is “DUS” or Driving Under Suspension. It’s sometimes called DWLS (Driving While License Suspended) and can refer also to revoked licenses or other license problems.
While Mr. Aronberg was mostly a pleasant speaker, his responses to questions presented a stark contrast with Ms. Berger, who answered questions directly.
Aronberg’s focus on suspended drivers opened the door to questions about a prominent case that happened not long ago on 441 in front of West Boca Medical Center. A driver hit three kids and then left the scene. A few weeks later the alleged driver, Brett Knowles of Boca Isles North, posted this beauty on his Facebook page:
West Boca News followed this case closely. Readers notified us in September that 441 had been closed and we went to the accident scene. speaking with family members of victims, contacting the Sheriff, and also Aronberg’s office. In October we reported that charges had not been filed yet, though we made no reference to the State Attorney in that article.
We researched the driver’s history in our courts and found quite a bit. Relevant to the issue of suspended drivers, Knowles was convicted of DUS (or DWLS) at least three times before this incident. There was a fourth case in Broward but we don’t know the results of that one. Knowles has had dozens of other cases including traffic tickets and drug charges.
In December, after getting a copy of the crash report from the Sheriff, we reported that Aronberg was stalling on the case. We noticed that Knowles had been ticketed again in October of 2014 for driving while suspended – while this investigation was pending – and that Aronberg’s office dropped the charge.
Shortly after that article charges from the incident were finally brought against Knowles.
In November and December we e-mailed inquiries to Aronberg’s office for a statement on the accident case and for the records from the dropped case. His office did not respond to either request. The refusal to provide records on the dropped case is a flagrant violation of the Florida Public Records Law (sometimes called the Sunshine Law).
With that background in mind, this reporter asked Aronberg about how his office handles repeat offenders on the Driving Under Suspension law. In particular the law (Section 322.34) allows repeat offenders to be charged with higher level offenses. A second offense can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor with up to one year in jail. A third offense can be charged as a felony with up to a 5-year prison sentence.
Mr. Aronberg’s office, along with Broward, has repeatedly let Mr. Knowles off easy on these charges.
After he didn’t answer the question the first time this reporter asked him again about his office policy on whether and when his office charges repeat offenders with the higher level offenses provided by the law. Aronberg claimed that they do but provided no specifics. Our readers may have noticed that we frequently report on the criminal history of those arrested. We never see repeat offenders charged with the higher level offenses. This is not just a Palm Beach problem. Knowles’ fourth case was in Broward and was charged at the lowest level as well.
Rather than address the issue Aronberg then decided to attack this reporter. Along with his political consultant in the back of the room they accused me of being rude to their office and engaging in politics.
As a response to that bogus claim, my e-mails to his office are below:
Ms. Cruz and/or Mr./Ms. Harris,
I write to inquire about the State Attorney’s position on the case of Brett Knowles. PBSO advises that the case has been forwarded to the Palm Beach County State Attorney.
Please let us know the status of this case.
West Boca News
Reply from Ms. Cruz (same day):
This case pertains to an active criminal investigation and is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Florida Statute 119.07(2)(c)1.
My reply (again, same day):
I’m not asking for records. I’m asking if the SA has any statement to make on the case. My question relates both to the pending investigation as well as Mr. Knowles past history.
And by the way I don’t see how there’s an active investigation. PBSO finished their investigation. It’s in the SA’s hands now per PBSO. So who’s investigating?
No need to reply until next week.
There was no reply from Aronberg’s office.
Ms. Cruz (and Mr. Edmonson?):
I just noticed that Mr. Knowles had a subsequent DWLS case in Palm Beach County: 50-2014-CT-023520-AXXX-SB, citation # A3B50ZE.
Court records show that case was resolved with a nolle prosse.
Please e-mail or fax (518-708-8752) me all records in the SA’s possession regarding this case. Also, please let me know if the SA has any statement it wishes to make regarding the decision to nolle prosse the case.
Regarding my previous inquiries you asserted that there was an active investigation. I don’t think you can make that argument with regard to a case that has been nolle prossed.
If the Sheriff’s investigation is accurate, three kids were hit by Mr. Knowles while he was driving on a suspended license. Had prosecutors held Knowles accountable according to the law, the accident wouldn’t have happened. Call me rude all you want. Aronberg’s blasé attitude toward repeat offenders makes us all unsafe. His disregard for the Public Records law is offensive for someone in the position of enforcing the law.
The full pdf of the old Collier PUD map is below: