Photo/Story Gallery 2007

Teamwork Uncovers Multiple Crimes

Trooper Keplinger and Sergeant SmithRecently, Trooper Tyra Keplinger stopped a motorcyclist for traveling in excess of 100 mph while traveling southbound on I-295 on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville. As Trooper Keplinger exited her vehicle to approach the motorcycle, the driver fled on the bike at a high rate of speed. Trooper Keplinger disengaged contact with the motorcyclist at that time, and reported the incident to the Jacksonville Regional Communication Center. The driver later lost control of his bike and crashed it as he attempted to make an exit onto another roadway. He fled the scene on foot. During the course of the crash investigation, Trooper Keplinger contacted the dealership in South Carolina where the bike’s temporary tag was registered and obtained the identification of the motorcycle’s owner.

The following evening, Trooper Keplinger and Sergeant Dennis Smith responded to a residence in Orange Park to conduct a follow-up investigation. Upon making contact with the owner of the motorcycle, the troopers identified him by his Florida driver license. After he was read the Miranda warning, he denied being involved in the crash and stated that he had reported the motorcycle stolen to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office the night before.

After leaving the residence, Sgt. Smith conducted a routine computer check of the individual’s driver license and discovered that the photograph and signature for the last entry did not match the suspect. Sgt. Smith contacted the Tallahassee Regional Communications Center and requested that a trooper respond to the Leon County address shown on the license. Trooper Michael Stallworth responded to the residence and made contact with family members who confirmed that the original photograph on file was the true identity of the person on the license, and that he was currently residing in Tallahassee. Sgt. Smith was subsequently contacted by this person via telephone and learned that his passport and other identification documents had been stolen in Leon County.

Sgt. Smith responded back to the residence in Orange Park and interviewed the girl friend who told him that the owner of the motorcycle had gone to her grandmother’s house in Jacksonville. Sgt. Smith, Lt. Mike Dubois, and two Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers responded to the residence in Jacksonville in an attempt to locate him. As Sgt. Smith and Lt. Dubois approached the front of the residence, the suspect jumped out a back window, at which time the JSO officers applied a taser shock to apprehend him. After the suspect was secured, Sgt. Smith identified a stolen 2004 Ford pickup that he had driven to the residence. The victim’s stolen passport, Florida driver license, and a loaded .45 caliber handgun were located in the stolen truck.

The defendant was positively identified using his fingerprints. The investigation also revealed that the suspect had purchased the motorcycle and rented the apartment in Orange Park using the stolen identity. After a positive identity was obtained, it was determined that the defendant had six confirmed warrants from Leon County and one confirmed warrant from Duval County. In addition to the active warrants, Sgt. Smith charged him with the following offenses: Grand Theft of a Motor Vehicle; Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; Fraudulent use of Personal Identification Information; Unauthorized Use or Possession of a Driver License; Bank Fraud; Resisting an Officer Without Violence; and Making False Affidavit for a Driver License. Trooper Keplinger charged him with Fleeing and Attempting to Elude a Police Officer and Driving While License Suspended or Revoked for his actions when he initially fled from her, and Reckless Driving and Leaving the Scene of a Crash pursuant to the crash investigation.

Clay County Sheriff’s Detectives interviewed the suspect in reference to the false police report regarding the stolen motorcycle and the fraudulent activity connected to the apartment rental in Orange Park. During the interview, he confessed to several burglaries that he had participated in and identified numerous stolen articles, including at least one other firearm that he had sold in Jacksonville. That firearm was ultimately recovered by the detectives. After the interview, detectives returned to the apartment in Orange Park and recovered several of the stolen items that he had identified.

Sgt. Smith also contacted the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to conduct a follow-up investigation regarding the fraudulent purchase of the motorcycle in South Carolina. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are all following up on leads that were obtained during the course of this investigation. Great job on this complex investigation!