‘Trunk Lady’ murder victim identified over 50 years after she was found strangled to death with bolo tie

After over half a century, investigators in St. Petersburg, Florida, say they have learned the identity of the city’s oldest and most notorious cold case victim. Sylvia June Atherton, a 41-year-old mother of five from Arizona, was the woman whose body was discovered in a wooden trunk 53 years ago on Halloween, authorities announced.

According to a press release from the St. Petersburg Police Department, two officers found a black steamer trunk in the woods behind a restaurant on Oct. 31, 1969, in the 4200 block of 34th Street South.

Inside, officers found a woman wrapped in a large plastic bag. She had visible head injuries, was strangled with a man’s Western-style bolo tie, and was partially clothed in a pajama top. The unnamed victim was buried as “Jane Doe” in Memorial Park Cemetery.

The case quickly gained notoriety, with the victim being dubbed the “Trunk Lady,” and was featured in various television shows, articles, and cold case conferences.

Forty years after discovering the “Trunk Lady,” a doctor with the University of Southern Florida’s Department of Anthropology assisted authorities in exhuming her remains. Efforts to identify the victim using teeth and bone samples over the years proved challenging due to their degraded state. However, earlier this year marked a breakthrough when a St. Petersburg police cold case detective discovered original samples of the victim’s hair and skin, which had been taken during the victim’s initial autopsy.

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Man dies after cops refuse to let him take heart transplant meds while jailed on misdemeanor

A heart transplant recipient died after Florida jailers refused to let him take medication that kept his body from rejecting the organ two days after he was arrested over a dispute with his neighbor over wireless internet, according to a report.

Dexter Barry had waited 12 years for a new heart before finally getting a transplant in 2020, but went without his life-sustaining medication after a misdemeanor arrest for assault due to an argument with his neighbor over payment for a shared wi-fi account, reported The Tributary.

The 54-year-old Barry, who had remained calm during the arrest, told the officer he took heart transplant medication and requested a wheelchair, but no other medical notes were made in police records. Duval County jails allow outside drugs to taken in the case of rare or expensive life-sustaining medications with a verified prescription.

“The police officer could’ve gone inside and got his medication,” said son Dexter Barry Jr. “This man is telling you, my heart needs those meds. A two-minute walk would’ve saved his life.”

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NAACP Leader Defends Living in Florida Despite Org’s Travel Warning: ‘We Haven’t Told Anybody To Leave’

The NAACP chairman denied being a hypocrite despite his organization’s travel advisory warning blacks to avoid his home state of Florida.

Leon Russell was called a hpyocrite by Florida GOP Chair Christian Ziegler who noted the NAACP chairman lived in Tampa. Ziegler offered, in a Twitter post, to pay for Russell’s move to another state if he really hated living in Florida.

Fox News further reported:

NAACP board of directors chairman Leon W. Russell pushed back against criticism for his organization’s travel advisory for Black people in the state of Florida while he himself lives in the Tampa Bay area.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” Russell discussed the recent backlash over the NAACP warning Black people against traveling to Florida following “Governor Ron DeSantis’ aggressive attempts to erase Black history.”

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Florida cop charged with using dead man’s credit card information to buy fast food, gas, and hotel stay

A police officer in Florida was arrested with her handcuffs and charged with stealing a dead man’s credit card information to purchase fast food, according to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

St. Cloud Police Officer Dianne Ferreira, 25, stands accused of theft of credit card information with intent to use, fraudulent use of a credit card over $200, and use of the personal ID of a deceased person. Her arrest was announced Tuesday during a joint press conference held by the OCSO and the SCPD.

“She was an officer, but she doesn’t deserve that title now,” St. Cloud Police Chief Doug Goerke said on Wednesday.

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The deputy and the disappeared

One morning 19 years ago, Marcia Williams woke up praying for her son. Terrance worked two jobs, and liked reading Socrates, and had a scar on his right hand, near the thumb, from one time when he played with matches as a little boy. He was Marcia’s only child. She prayed and prayed, fighting against this inexplicable feeling that something terrible was about to happen.

A few hours later, Terrance crossed paths with a deputy sheriff. He got in the deputy’s patrol car. Then he disappeared.

The deputy said he’d given Terrance a ride to a Circle K convenience store. But there was no proof that Terrance arrived at the Circle K. And his mother never saw him again.

Eventually, Marcia learned something astonishing about this deputy sheriff.

Three months earlier, another man had also taken a ride in his patrol car.

Just like Terrance Williams, Felipe Santos had been driving illegally.

Just like Williams, he encountered Cpl. Steven Calkins of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

And just like Williams, he disappeared right after that.

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Florida LGBTQ group cancels Pride parade when told it must be adults only

Officials in a southeastern Florida town have shut down a gay pride parade and restricted other pride events, disallowing anyone under the age of 21 from attending. This comes after Florida Governor Ron Desantis is set to pass into law that would keep children out of drag shows.

The Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast posted to Facebook that the event was going to be limited to people 21 years and older after several talks with the Port St. Lucie officials, per WFLA.

In a Facebook post the group stated, “As all of you know, the political climate that we are currently in has us all very concerned for our community. After multiple meetings with city officials, it is with a heavy heart that Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast has to announce that this weekend’s Pridefest will now be a 21 and older event.”

“The city has decided that with the likelihood that the Governor will sign the latest bill into effect this evening, that we will need to be on the side of caution and has required us to make this necessary change. We are obviously upset and dishearten[ed] that it has come to this. We also regret to announce that we will have to cancel our plans to bring back our beloved parade.”

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Transgender Teacher Fired After Allegedly Threatening to Shoot Students

A transgender teacher at a Florida middle school was allowed to remain on campus for several weeks after allegedly making disturbing comments about shooting students and “having bad thoughts.”

In a statement released Friday, the Florida Department of Education responded to the situation regarding student safety at Fox Chapel Middle School in Hernando County, saying the teacher, Ashlee Renczkowski, has been removed from the school.

The department noted that the removal happened only after state officials raised their concerns with Hernando County School District Superintendent John Stratton Wednesday evening.

According to an incident report obtained by parental rights group “Moms for Liberty,” a school resource officer temporarily assigned to Fox Chapel Middle School was notified by Assistant Principal Kerry Thornton and Guidance Counselor Kimberly Walby on March 24 regarding Renczkowski making “concerning statements about self-harm” and possibly shooting students.

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Trans Florida teacher ‘Ashlee’ who allegedly said they were ‘going to shoot the kids’ then themselves remains in classroom despite parents’ complaints

Parents of students at Fox Chapel Middle School in Hernando County, Florida, are demanding answers from the district after a teacher made concerning comments allegedly made about harming children and themselves. Although the district investigated the comments and found them concerning, the teacher was not fired and is back in the classroom.

Several parents contacted FOX 13, with each sharing the same story that the teacher made comments about harming students and then herself.

The district stated that the comments were made out of frustration with student behavior, but refused to divulge exactly what was said, leading to tension between parents and the board. “While the teacher in question did make a comment to colleagues that was concerning,” the school principal could be heard saying in a recording sent to parents on Monday. “Staff and law enforcement determined the comment was not an imminent threat to the campus, but was instead an expression of frustration at student behavior.”

A sheriff’s office report from March 24, obtained by Moms for Liberty Hernando County, stated that a school resource officer responded to a report from Assistant Principal Kerry Thornton and Guidance Counselor Kimberly Walby, who reported that a teacher had made statements about harming themself and possibly shooting students.

Thornton told the resource officer that at around 3 pm, she was visiting classrooms and walked into teacher Ashlee Renczkowski’s classroom. Thornton asked how the teacher was doing, to which Renczkowski responded, “Not good, I’m having bad thoughts.”

Thornton radioed Walby and said that Renczkowski was coming to see her. According to the report, “Ashlee walked to Kimberley’s office and started to explain that she learned about a social media post where people were talking negatively about Ashlee’s sexual orientation.”

The post in question was in regard to Renczkowski and Renczkowski’s wife, Fawn Renczkowski, who also teaches at the school.

According to Fox Chapel’s staff directory, Ashlee Renczkowski teaches mathematics for grades six through eight, and Fawn Renczkowski teaches science for grades six through eight.

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Florida professor leaves $190,000-a-year job following claim he faked data on racism studies

A Florida State University criminology professor abruptly left his $190,000-a-year position following allegations that he fudged data on racism studies during his 16-year tenure.

Eric Stewart, who had six of his studies retracted, has been absent from the college since mid-March after a new investigation over his work renewed scrutiny over claims that he fabricated data by altering sample sizes to make the results appear more racist, the Florida Standard reports.

Stewart was first accused of falsifying data by Justin Pickett, a University of Albany criminology professor who co-authored a report on race and crime with Stewart in 2011.

In the study, the criminologists were looking to test whether the public was increasingly demanding longer sentences for black and Hispanic criminals as those minority populations grew.

In his 2019 complaint, Pickett said their findings showed no relationship between the growth of minority groups and the severity of criminal sentences handed to them.

Despite the result, the paper was published with “altered” data to claim there was a correlation, with Pickett noting that many of the changes appeared to have been tacked on just before publication.

The biggest change Pickett pointed out was their sample size growing to 1,184 respondents even though they only had 500, and that the study’s conclusion came from handpicking the data from 91 counties instead of the full list of 326.

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Founder of “Protect Our Kids First” arrested for allegedly downloading child sex abuse material

Michael Dolce, a 53-year-old lawyer known for representing child sexual abuse survivors, was recently arrested by FBI agents at his West Palm Beach, Florida home. Dolce, who founded a group called Protect Our Kids First Inc., was allegedly laying in his bed and downloading sexually explicit images of children when agents broke down his front door.

According to an FBI affidavit, after Dolce’s March 15 arrest, agents found 1,997 images and five videos of child pornography on his computer. The images were of male and female children ages five to 12, including several of a prepubescent girl in a subfolder titled “Sweet Pedo Stars.” Dolce could receive a minimum of 20 years in prison if found guilty of possessing child pornography.

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