Crime

Update: Church Robbery Suspect Caught, Equipment Returned

Update: Church Robbery Suspect Caught, Equipment Returned

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- The pastor has long since forgiven the person who stole thousands of dollars worth of equipment from his church, but now that suspect will have to stand before a judge.

Nolan Ridge Baptist Church was victimized in late March, losing their music equipment.

Jason Chase has now been arrested in Panama City for the theft.

According to the Clay County Sheriff's Office, Chase is a drifter who moves from town to town to stay with family and friends.

At the time of the church incident, Chase was staying with his sister in Jacksonville.

The best news for the church isn't the arrest; it's the return of their equipment, all of it.

The sheriff's office said the church members are thrilled to have the gear back.

Possible 'Home Owner' Energy Audit Phone Scam

For well over a week now, a call comes in from 904-525-2895, a cell phone with a recording telling me about a free energy audit appointment I can set up and get $3,700 from a government program. I pressed one, as prompted, to ask a few questions about this free energy audit that was going to put $3,700 in my pocket (if I qualify).

State Attorney: Judge in McBride Case Kept State from Due Process

State Attorney: Judge in McBride Case Kept State from Due Process

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- State Attorney Angela Corey has attacked a judge's decision to spare the life of a Middleburg man who killed his ex-girlfriend and buried her in the backyard.

The State Attorney's office filed a notice of objection in the case against Kenneth McBride. He strangled Roberta Laws in 2009.

Jurors voted 8 to 4 to recommend the death penalty for McBride but Judge John Skinner went against the jury's recommendation and instead sentenced McBride to life in prison.

Corey argued that McBride was previously convicted of custodial sexual battery, a capital felony, and had been designated a sexual predator. 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE OBJECTION COREY'S OFFICE FILED

Laws' murder was "heinous atrocious and cruel," Corey furthered, and the crime was committed in a "cold, calculated, and premeditated manner."

Telephone Debt-Collection Scams Target First Coast

Telephone Debt-Collection Scams Target First Coast

MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- At first, it was just an unusual phone call -  then it turned ugly.

Angela Tuhacek said she returned the call and what happened next left her in shock: The person on the other end read a list of charges.

"She read this affidavit with these charges. I said, 'I don't owe anybody, I've got one loan and they just debited my account and I can prove it'," said Tuhacek.

She was the target of a phone scam designed to scare and threaten consumers into paying off a bogus loan with a prepaid credit card.

Tuhacek said she told them it wasn't true, but her response only caused the caller to turn up the heat.

"I said, 'I don't owe anybody'; he said 'oh yes you do and you're going to jail if you don't pay up' and hung up," she said.

JEA Warns Customers to Beware of Scams

JEA is warning its customers to beware of scams involving utility bill payments.

Recently, some JEA customers have been called, texted or visited in person, requesting a payment be made on a credit card number to avoid disconnection of services. JEA does not call its customers to make such requests.  Additionally, some JEA customers are being offered payment of their utility bill for up to half off the total amount due. The scam works like this – a customer is approached and told their bill will be paid in full if the customer gives an amount in cash. Unfortunately, the account is then paid with a stolen credit card or check. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Trial Begins for Man Accused of Strangling, Burying Wheelchair-Bound Girlfriend

Trial Begins for Man Accused of Strangling, Burying Wheelchair-Bound Girlfriend

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- The murder trial for a man accused of strangling a disabled woman is now underway.

A jury was selected and sworn in Monday, and Kenneth McBride's trial started Tuesday.

The Clay County Circuit Clerk's Website shows that both sides made opening statement. The state then called nine witnesses and entered 76 items into evidence.

The defense followed, and presented two items as evidence.  Court begins again Wednesday morning.

Deputies arrested McBride in April 2009, after they discovered the body of wheelchair-bound Roberta Laws, 46, in a shallow grave behind the home she shared with McBride in Middleburg.  Laws had cerebral palsy.

This isn't McBride's first arrest.  He's already a registered sex offender after being convicted of committing sexual battery against a child in 1996, according to the National Sex Offender Registry Website.

UPDATE: Green Cove Springs Death Investigation

Clay County Sheriff Office Detectives have identified the victim in the overnight homicide mentioned. He is Joshua W. Perdue (W/M), a resident of Middleburg.