Florida Crime News Update for Nov. 1 – 8, 2023

Below is an overview of crime news including arrests, investigations, trials and criminal sentences that occurred across the state of Florida during the first week of November 2023.

Child Abuse and Kidnapping Crime News

The first week of November, 2023 in Florida saw a spate of crimes involving youth who were endangered, harmed and kidnapped. In South Florida there were two different cases that made statewide headlines involving youth. In the town of Margate, near Miami, four people were arrested in connection to a case involving torture of a 15-year old girl. In the Broward County town of Hollywood, a couple was accused of attempting to kidnap a 9-year-old girl.

In the Margate torture home case, police arrested Shankyria Latricia Clayton, 20, on Thursday, on three felony charges, after they accused her of joining her aunt and uncle, the girl’s guardians, in caging her sister in two different closets, failing to provide her with adequate food, water and medical care and not reporting the torture to authorities.

According to police, while the victim was locked in closets, she was forced to urinate and defecate in a bucket. Officers first arrested Latricia Elizabeth Crawley, 46, and Benjamin Deztuan Lockett, 43, last Wednesday, after the victim wrote to her online instructor pleading for help and asking someone to get police to come to the home, according to a report. The two have been the girl’s legal guardians since 2014.

An arrest report stated that officers arrived at the house and discovered that Lockett had punched the victim in the head because he thought she had eaten candy, causing her head to slam into the corner of a desk.

The victim suffered a cut to the left side of her head, which was bleeding and had visible swelling, the report stated. Officers noticed that she had other injuries on her body, including “scars consistent with ligature marks, bruising, scar tissue, bite marks from insects and symptoms of malnutrition.”

Alleged abuse listed in the arrest report included:

  • 2019: 11 years of age, (Lockett) kicked her in the chin, resulting in a noticeable permanent scar, observed by your affiant.
  • 2021: 13 years of age, (Crawley) oiled the knees of the victim and forced the victim to kneel on rice for several hours at a time, for several days in a row, resulting in permanent disfigurement to the victim’s knees in the form of scar tissue, observed by this affiant.
  • 2021: 13 years of age, (Crawley) tied the victim to a fixed object and struck her toes with a hammer. According to the victim, this resulted in severe pain and bleeding.
  • 2022: 14 years of age, (Crawley and Lockett) tied and bound the victim to different objects on multiple occasions with a nylon rope, resulting in permanent disfigurement to the victim’s skin on her shoulders, wrists and areas of her stomach in the form of scarring and hyperpigmentation, observed by your affiant.
  • 2022: 14 years of age, (Crawley) threw a pot of boiling water at the victim causing permanent disfigurement in the form of scarring to the victim’s stomach, observed by your affiant.

Broward Couple Accused of Attempting to Kidnap 9-Year-Old Girl

In the Hollywood kidnapping case, Michael Diaz, 34, of Davie, and Taiana Tersano, 31, of Hollywood, are facing multiple charges, including luring and enticing a child. According to the Hollywood Florida Police Department, attempted to lure a 9-year-old girl into a van in the 1900 block of McKinley St, in the Hollywood’s Royal Poinciana neighborhood.

HPD reports state that the girl’s mother called police to report that a man, woman and their 7-year-old pulled up in a white panel van and tried to lure her daughter inside; the 9-year-old later told police that Tersano rolled the window down and told her “come here.”

The girl’s mother was inside of her home at the time, but police said that her boyfriend was outside sitting in his car watching their daughter play when he saw the suspects’ van pull up, which prompted him to get out of his car and place himself between Tersano and the girl in order to block Tersano from kidnapping the girl. After Tersano reportedly spit in the boyfriend’s face and punched him, he punched Tersano in self-defense.

Both Diaz and Tersano said they were going to “come back and kill all of you,” according to the report. A witness told officers that Diaz yelled at Tersano to “Grab the f—ing kid!” as she attempted to take the girl, the reports state.

Police stopped Diaz and Tersano in the 900 block of North Federal Highway soon after after the girl’s mother provided a description of their vehicle, the reports state. Police said their 7-year-old was in the back of the van “not seated and surrounded by loose mechanical tools.”

Child protective services officials later took custody of their child.

Florida ex-con dad beats up 16-year-old at school bus stop over fight with his son, deputies say

In central Florida, a ex-con in Polk County assaulted a 16-year-old boy who reportedly got into a fight with his son. Jarrett Garrett McCabe was arrested and charged with simple battery after the incident that happened Tuesday on David Street in Lakeland, according to a press release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. McCabe told detectives that a neighbor told him two boys had jumped his son on Monday. 

The investigation determined that McCabe’s son had a fight with the one of the boys a few weeks ago, and the other boy on Monday, and the boy hadn’t been jumped in either incident.

On Tuesday, McCabe went to the bus stop and waited to see if the boys were going to fight his son again, but when he saw the boys get off the bus, he confronted them instead. McCabe said he slapped one of the boys in the face with an open hand.
According to the witness, McCabe punched the boy in the face and twice in the stomach.

“It’s understandable that a dad would be upset about his son getting jumped, but waiting at a bus stop to beat-up a kid is not the kind of example you want to be setting for your child. Based on this and his criminal history, he clearly has anger-management issues.”– Grady Judd, Sheriff.

Teacher at Orlando private school accused of sexual contact with former student

In Orlando, CBS News’ Affiliate News 6, broke the news that former private school teacher faces several charges of sexual activity with a minor. The former teacher, Harriet Sugg is accused of sexually abusing 15-yr old who was attending the school, which is operated by the First Baptist Church of Orlando. According to the lawsuit, the school employed Suggs from around July 2003 until around May 2016. The victim is suing the First Academy. The suit alleges that Sugg met the victim in September 2014 a few weeks after the victim began to attend the school and Sugg quickly “ingratiated herself into Jane Doe’s life under the guise of faith-based mentorship.”

The victim met Sugg after the teacher spoke to the school’s upper-school students during chapel about her own experience as a victim of child sexual abuse and her willingness to help any students with similar struggles, according to court documents.

The lawsuit alleges that Sugg used her position as a teacher to befriend and groom the victim and to gain her trust. The lawsuit also said within weeks of meeting the student, Sugg gave the girl a gift that read, “Will you be my little sister?”