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Polk County father of missing child arrested

Lakeland, Florida - The father who Winter Haven Police say may have been the last person to see his young daughter and her mother before they went missing in October of 2009 has been arrested.

32-year-old Lester Ross was taken into custody early Friday morning in Lakeland.  He accused of not paying child or spousal support and grand theft.

Detectives say while he was renting a house in Winter Haven he used utilities without paying. The house located at
703 Hemenway Drive was searched on October 18. Evidence technicians dug up the back yard looking for clues after he was evicted from the house.

Click here for previous story.

Winter Haven police say they still have no new leads into what happened to Ronkeya Holmes and Masaraha Ross. They are considered missing and endangered.

Charges against Lakeland father accused of killing daughter dropped

Bartow, Florida - Timothy King, 32, of Lakeland has spent 15 months in jail accused of killing his 5-month-old daughter.

His trial was supposed to start next month until a the state made a surprising move on Thursday.

Back in July of 2009, Lakeland Police arrested King at his home after his daughter, Kyra King, died while in his care.

King has always maintained his innocence, saying he thought something was wrong with her when he picked her up from daycare that day.

Police say the baby died from blunt force trauma to her head at the hands of her father.

Then, almost one year to the day of Kyra's death, another 5-month-old child, Zachary Quijano, suffered a "strikingly similar" death at the same exact daycare, Wilson's Child Care in Lakeland.

King's lawyers say that evidence swayed the state to drop the charges.

Funeral held for Polk County sheriff's deputy

Winter Haven, Florida - Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says one of his deputies, a beloved sergeant, could have been alive today but he was more concerned about being parked in the way of others. Sheriff Judd says Sgt. Wesley Whitmore moved his patrol car and in an instant he was killed in a tragic car accident.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral Mass for 60 year old Whitmore Friday morning. It was held at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church at 523 Avenue M NW. The service started at 10 a.m. and ended around 1 p.m. 

Judd described Whitmore as, "A supervisor who took calls at the end of a 12 hour shift so his deputies could go home on time. A sergeant who loved to be a deputy."

Update: Orange grove body identified

Update: Orange grove body identified

Haines City, FL - Polk County Sheriff's Office Homicide Detectives are conducting a death investigation centered around a deceased body found in a Haines City orange grove by the grove owner's son on the afternoon of December 15, 2010.

The deceased victim has been identified by detectives. The release of his name is pending next of kin notification. During the investigation, detectives determined that the victim had been staying at the State Motel located at 35509 Hwy. 27N in Haines City.

Surveillance video from the motel showed that during the morning hours of December 15, 2010 the victim and another unknown Hispanic male in a red sweatshirt (pictured above) arrived in a small unknown model red four door vehicle and rented a room.

Man's body found in orange grove

Man's body found in orange grove

Haines City, FL - Detectives from the Polk County Sheriff's Office arrived to a citrus grove near Haines City on the afternoon of Dec. 15, when the deceased body of an unidentified Hispanic male was found. The Sheriff's Office is actively investigating the the death, which is being considered a homicide, and an autopsy will be completed today.

The body was found near Water Tank Road, near Bice Grove Road, and the PCSO Homicide Unit has only said that "the circumstances of the death are suspicious."

Elderly driver blacked out before striking deputy

WINTER HAVEN, Florida (AP) -- An elderly driver says he blacked out shortly before his vehicle struck and killed a sheriff's sergeant on Sunday.

Authorities say the sports utility vehicle driven by 79-year-old Leo John Saunders plowed through a 7-Eleven parking lot where Polk County Sheriff's Sgt. Wesley Whitmore was making a traffic stop. The SUV hit the patrol car, which then spun around and hit 60-year-old Whitmore.

A passenger in the car Whitmore had just pulled over rushed to the deputy's side and called for help.

Officials say Saunders is cooperating with investigators. No charges have been filed.

 

Arctic front heading to Polk

Arctic front heading to Polk

Polk County, FL - An arctic front is heading to the Bay area, including a Hard Freeze Watch in effect for Polk and all surrounding counties except Pinellas.

* Lake Wind Advisory in effect this afternoon into the evening. Sustained winds of 20mph likely with higher gusts on area lakes.

* High Surf Advisory in effect this afternoon through Tuesday. 5 to 8 foot surf expected with offshore waves of 10 to possibly 15 feet. Dangerous rip currents likely.

* Small Craft Advisory in effect through Tuesday. Seas build today to 5 - 8 feet then 9 - 12 feet tonight through Monday. Slow improvements into Tuesday.

* Gale Warning in effect for offshore waters out 20 nautical miles and beyond. Winds increase to 25 - 35 kts with gusts over 40 kts. Seas 10 - 15 feet.

* Wind Chill Advisory in effect late tonight through Monday. At times, it will feel like it's in the 20s to mid 30s in the bay area and into the teens for areas to the north.