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Runaway dog turns up eight years later to owner’s amazement

A Florida woman thought her dog was gone for good when it ran away eight years ago, but then she got a phone call that she’ll never forget. 

>> Read more trending news

On June 30 around 3 a.m., a Lee County animal control officer called Louise Friedlander to tell her, Tessa, her Yorkshire terrier, who ran away in 2009, was found wandering outside a fire department near Fort Myers. 

"I said, 'Tessa, it's Mama!' She jumped up on the cage and she wagged her tail and licked my hand and she smiled, like a Pepsodent smile," Friedlander told the Naples Daily News.

Tessa went missing on Father’s Day eight years ago when someone left a gate open while Friedlander was at Fort Myers Beach, according to the Daily News

Friedlander said she spent hours looking for the little terrier when she first disappeared, and spent the next few months posting newspaper ads and flyers in several neighborhoods. 

>> Related: Dog returns after spending 9 months lost in mountains

"I never thought she would come back," Friedlander said. 

Tessa received shots and was spayed, and is now back home with an amazed Friedlander.

Read more here.

Florida eatery closed by roach infestation tries to hide health warning with sign

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – A Florida restaurant was caught trying to cover up a health inspector’s sign after it was shut down by a cockroach infestation, according to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

>> Read more trending news

Inspectors forced Jaxon Social in in Jacksonville Beach to close on July 18 after they found 23 live roaches and 35 dead roaches in the kitchen.

“It’s eat up with roaches,” said former Jaxon Social cook Brian Lee.

A former employee later sent a photo that showed a handwritten sign on the restaurant’s door. It covered the orange health notice left by inspectors.

The handwritten sign said, “Closed for technical difficulties.”

Officials said an inspector found the covered sign during a recent follow-up inspection. Kathleen Keenan, deputy director of communications for DBPR, said a division inspector spoke to the restaurant’s operator, and the health notice has since been properly displayed.

The restaurant has undergone at least seven inspections since it was closed. An inspector determined as recently as Wednesday that there were still too many live roaches to reopen the restaurant.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

“If you open one of the refrigerator doors and pop open the seal, they fall out like,” Lee said. “It’s like you’ve torn the corner off a bag of Skittles. It’s disgusting.”

The restaurant’s owner said exterminators were brought into the restaurant Wednesday and that it should reopen after another inspection Friday.

The owner said that the restaurant be re-branded before it opens again.

According to Department of State records, the restaurant is licensed as KC Crave, LLC.

Woman shocked by what doctor left inside her after giving birth 

A Florida woman gave birth in mid-July, but she said she ended up back in the hospital weeks later because of a doctor’s mistake

>> Read more trending news

After Jamila Smith gave birth to her son, Aiden, she needed surgery to stop the bleeding. That’s when Smith claims a doctor at Jackson South left an object inside her, according to WSVN

“There was pain and pressure to the point where I wouldn’t be able to, sometimes, like, hard to move to get the baby, moving around, stuff, you know,” Smith said.

Doctors then discovered a piece of gauze inside her that measured a foot long and could have caused an infection or other complications. 

“It looked like, almost like a long piece of snake,” Smith’s husband, Alaunta, told WSVN

>> Related: Florida woman arrested after giving birth to 11-year-old’s child

Jackson Health System released the following statement to WSVN:

“Our healthcare teams are always deeply affected when their patients suffer complications after procedures … like all top medical systems, we investigate every complication and use those results to constantly improve.”

Read more here.


4-foot-long Nile monitor lizard living in family's Florida attic

A Florida family discovered a 4-foot monitor lizard living in their attic earlier this week.

“The thing was huge! I thought I saw a ghost or something,” Danny To, of Cape Coral, told WFTX.

>> Read more trending news

To told the news station that he heard scratching on the roof for about nine months. His neighbor was the first to spot the large, invasive, semi-aquatic lizard and quickly told To.

Nile monitor lizards can grow up to 5 feet and weigh 15 pounds. They like to munch on small animals, fish and eggs.

This job, To surmised, would be much harder than setting up a few traps, so he sought help from a professional.

Ned Bruha, of the Wildlife Whisperer, checked out the home and found scratch marks on the roof, a hole and bird feathers in the attic, WFTX reported. Birds don’t naturally go in the attic, Bruha added.

He planned to patch the hole, set up cameras and hope for the best.

"This has been going on for approximately nine months, so we have no idea if there's one or 21 that call this home," Bruha told WFTX.

Read more at WFTX or at Florida Fish and Wildlife

Alligator 'ate toes off' homeless Florida man bathing in retention pond

A homeless man was bathing in a Port Charlotte, Florida, retention pond Monday when a 9-foot-long alligator attacked him.

>> Watch the news report here

According to WFTX, the man, later identified as 68-year-old Fredric Iman, sustained injuries to his left foot, left leg, left hand and groin. Following the attack, he went to a nearby surgery center where an employee notified police.

>> Alligator halts traffic to cross Florida road

“It looks like his, his pants are torn,” the employee said during the 911 call, Fox News reported. “It ate his toes off.”

>> Alligator attacks man wading in river with daughters

Iman was then airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, and his condition has improved from serious to stable since then. Many who live near the pond were shocked to hear what had happened to him, with one woman even saying she had always looked forward to seeing the alligator, which she had named Charlie.

“I’m a little upset because the gator is probably going to be euthanized,” Lisa Posten told WWSB. “People that live in Florida, they know not to go in these waters, this is where these gators live.”

>> Read more trending news

The alligator was removed from the scene and reportedly will be euthanized.

Florida man takes elderly neighbors hostage in bizarre attack over cup of salt

An elderly Florida couple was held hostage by their neighbor who asked to borrow a cup of salt on Friday, authorities said. 

>> Read more trending news

Louis and Irene Rosen, of Tamarac, invited their neighbor’s son, Leonard Benitez, inside to give him salt. But, Benitez then threatened the couple with a knife and gun, a Broward Sheriff’s spokeswoman told WPLG

Benitez, 45, reportedly demanded $50,000 and the couple’s banking information before hitting 99-year-old Louis Rosen in the head with the gun. 

Irene Rosen called 911 and escaped, but her husband was held hostage for two hours, according to WPLG

Benitez eventually surrendered and was charged with home invasion, battery, false imprisonment of an adult and kidnapping.

>> Related: Florida man livestreams his ‘crash parade’ while recklessly driving down beach

He’s jailed without  bond. 

Read more here

Snake knocks out power for 22,000 customers in Florida

Florida's Jacksonville Electric Authority is working on changes to keep critters from knocking out residents' power.

>> Watch the news report here

A snake is being blamed for a major outage in Orange Park that left 22,000 customers in the dark.

JEA officials said the snake came into contact with a high voltage circuit breaker.

A wildlife trapper said it was a red rat snake.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

“This time of year the snakes are really bad,” neighbor Cynthia Surrency said.

>> See the photo here

This is not the first time a snake has caused an outage.

In July 2014, a snake got into a transformer and caused a brief power outage at the St Johns Town Center.

Then in September 2015, a snake crawled into a transformer in Clay Electric’s Double Branch substation and caused an outage that left 5,000 customers in the dark for an hour.

Two weeks later, another snake caused a power outage that affected thousands of customers in the northern part of Clay County.

>> Read more trending news

Action News Jax asked JEA if anything is being done to prevent this from happening again.

Officials said animal guards and fiberglass brackets are being installed on distribution lines to help prevent contact between animals and energized equipment.

They also say the company is also working to prevent bird nests in substations because eggs attract hungry snakes.

JEA said on average, animals cause one outage once every two or three years inside a substation.

Fake engineer arrested after trying to nab $33 million construction contract

A Florida woman is facing charges for allegedly trying to win a $33 million construction project with a fake engineering degree.

>> Read more trending news

Janet Maria LeGrand, 46, was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail on Wednesday on a charge of organized scheme to defraud, according to an arrest report obtained by the Miami Herald

LeGrand is listed as the president/CEO of Bleu Network Inc., which was one of three bidders for a project to revitalize an area in Homestead, in south Florida.

She “methodically created an elaborate facade to make the Bleu Network Inc. appear to be a large, reputable company,” investigators said.

The Herald also reported police records show LeGrand has a probation violation for writing bad checks and for failure to disclose “eight civil lawsuits and 15 wage complaints against her.”

Bleu Network’s website also included several allegedly false statements, such as LeGrand being a University of Miami graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and her company having offices in South America.

>> Related: Boy, 3, dies after drowning in Florida canal

LeGrand reportedly also has an active lawsuit against the city that contend bidding on the Homestead project was not conducted properly. 

Read more here.  


Beauty queen’s assault charge dropped under ’Stand Your Ground’ law

A Florida judge dismissed charges Wednesday against a former beauty queen, who was arrested for clubbing a guest with an aluminum bat at her holiday party last December 

>> Read more trending news

Former Miss Miami Lakes Vanessa Barcelo’s lawyer argued that Barcelo acted in self-defense under the state’s “Stand Your Grand” law, the Miami Herald reported. 

The incident happened during a Dec. 21 party Barcelo held at her Hialeah home to promote her cake business.

She testified that during the party, local disc jockey David Duperon tried to take advantage of her inebriated cousin, according to the Miami Herald

This eventually led to Barcelo and her friends trying to get Duperon to leave the party. Barcelo said she swung a bat near the crowd and slapped Duperon’s face. During the scuffle, Duperon got possession of the bat. 

>> Related: Pageant winner arrested after attacking man with baseball bat

“I was scared for myself and everyone who was there,” Barcelo said. 

“I was afraid that I would get hit with the bat. I didn't know what else could have happened.”

Barcelo was facing charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Read more here

WATCH: Florida man shoots AT&T work trucks parked in front of his home, police say

A Florida man angry about the AT&T work trucks parked in front of his home took matters into his own hands and opened fire on the vehicles' tires and engines, police said.

>> Watch the news report here

According to WFOR, Jorge Jove, 64, confronted the workers outside his Hialeah home about 11 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

>> Read more trending news

"AT&T bucket trucks were working on some overhead phone lines on utility poles,” said Hialeah police Sgt. Carl Zogby. "The owner of the house came out. He was upset the trucks were parked in front of his house, asked them to move. They said, 'We'll move in a few minutes, we’re just working on the poles. We’re supposed to be here.'"

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

Police said that's when Jove, a former Miami-Dade firefighter, went back inside, got a gun and began shooting at the trucks, according to WSVN.

The shocking moment was captured on cellphone video as one of the AT&T employees called 911.

"There's a guy shooting out my tires!" the worker says in the clip as a man – presumably Jove – is shown approaching and shooting at the vehicles, the Miami Herald reported.

>> Click here to watch

Police said Jove fired 18 or more shots, WSVN reported. No one was hurt in the incident.

Jove was arrested and faces charges of aggravated assault with a firearm and felony vandalism, WFOR reported.

Read more here or here.

Victim crushed by 7,000-pound metal pipe hitting his van, making miraculous recovery

A man who survived a 7,000 pound metal pipe crushing his van while he was driving on a Florida highway has a long road to recovery. 

>> Read more trending news

Jesus Armando Escobar, 36, has a broken neck and several scrapes and bruises, his attorney told WFTV.

Antonio Santiago Wharton, 33, of Kissimmee, was driving a Mack truck loaded down with scrap metal through Orange County Sunday morning. 

As he negotiated a curve, he lost control of his truck, hit the guardrail and overturned, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. 

A 7,000 pound metal pipe flew off Wharton’s truck, tumbled off the highway overpass and landed squarely on the roof of Escobar’s Pontiac Van.

>> Related: Orlando man miraculously survives van being crushed by falling scrap metal

The force of the impact crushed the driver side roof of the van, troopers said. 

Wharton was ticketed for careless driving.


Frozen Italian sausages fall from sky onto Florida family's home

In something out of a scene from “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” a South Florida family awoke to frozen Italian sausage on their roof.

The Adair family, of Deerfield Beach, woke up Saturday morning to the loud thud of several packages of frozen Italian sausage banging against the roof, according to WPLG.

>> Read more trending news

"It was like thunder, and it awakened me out of a sleep," Travis Adair told WPLG.

After finding two packages of the meat in their yard, the family checked their roof and found three more packages. In total, 15 pounds of sausage somehow ended up striking their home.

The packages were marked William Land Service, a land-clearing company from Alabama, according to WPLG.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

"I called them and the guy had no idea what I was talking about and probably thought I was crazy," Travis’ son Austin Adair told WPLG.

Baffled by the discovery, the family thinks the meat drop was either connected to a drug deal or fell from a plane. 

67-year marriage crumbles, divorce reads like thriller with sex, greed, deceit

Beginning with a dream, a typewriter, a Brownie camera and rubber cement, Burt and Lucille Handelsman built a real estate empire that encompasses some of the toniest shops on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, restaurants in Delray Beach, bars in Key West and retail complexes in upstate New York.

>> Read more trending news

Then, last year, after 67 years of marriage, Lucille, known as “Lovey,” filed for divorce. 

With an estimated $750 million in far-flung real estate holdings at stake, the 88-year-old Lovey knew she had made a seismic decision and prepared for the worst.

As she expected, the divorce now unfolding in Palm Beach County Circuit Court is likely to be one for the record books, even in a county where contentious multi-million-dollar divorces are as common as shoes at Jimmy Choo — one of the Handelsmans’ Worth Avenue tenants.

>> Related: Florida multi-millionaire sues his kids, contending they stole money from his companies

Burt Handelsman, 89, responded to his wife’s action by refusing to move out of their Worth Avenue apartment and balking at her request for temporary support. He then sued the couple’s three adult children, claiming they pushed their mother to divorce him as part of a twisted plan to line their own pockets. Not to be outdone, the children sued back, claiming their father bilked them out of roughly $8 million.

Read more here.

WATCH: Chick-fil-A protesters covered in fake blood disrupt Cow Appreciation Day

A group of protesters picked one of the busiest days of the year to interrupt lunch at a Florida Chick-fil-A.

>> Read more trending news

The incident, which was captured on video and uploaded to Facebook, showed a number of people in cow suits covered in fake blood entering a Chick-fil-A near Tampa.

>> Watch the viral video here

Customer Tina Leacock, who was in the fast-food restaurant with her kids, took video of the incident, which happened on Cow Appreciation Day.

A restaurant manager called 911, but the protesters had already left by the time police arrived, WTVT reported.

“We came in there with the approach to show the reality of this is what’s happening to these animals,” Kayla Leaming, an organizer with Direct Action Everywhere, told WTVT.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Chick-fil-A giving free food to cow-costumed customers on Cow Appreciation Day

Leaming told the TV station: “We feel like that was feeding into the speciesism that we’re trying to fight. Speciesism is basically just the idea that one life is more important than the other, simply because of the body they were born into.”

One of the protesters had a fake knife with fake blood on it, which scared the kids, Leacock wrote on Facebook.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

“There were young children there who saw everything happen and couldn't tell the difference between it being real or fake,” Leacock wrote.

“I'm all for everyone having their own opinion, but when you come into a place full of children, with a knife in hand and proceed to cut the throats of a person dressed up as a chicken and a cow, all to get a point across, that's going [too] far,” she added.

Cocaine hidden in Cookie Monster doll was a big, blue give away for police

Cocaine hidden inside a Cookie Monster doll didn’t fool deputies in Marathon, Florida.

>> Read more trending news

Early Tuesday morning, a deputy with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office spotted a black Dodge car with tinted windows and an obscured license plate. The windows were so dark, the deputy said he decided to pull the vehicle over because he couldn’t see who was driving.

After smelling marijuana in the car, the deputy conducted a search and found a backpack. Inside the backpack, he found a Cookie Monster doll, which was heavier than usual.

“He took a closer look and found a slit cut in the doll, the Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

>> Related: Georgia drug bust leads to suspects accused in murders 10 years apart

“Inside the doll were two packages containing what turned out to be a total of 314 grams of cocaine,” according to the post.

The driver was arrested and is facing cocaine trafficking charges.

Monkeys swarm Florida man's property

An Ocala man said monkeys from Silver Springs State Park have invaded his property.

Brian Pritchard lives 4 miles away from the park, but over the last few days his game camera has taken hundreds of photos of about 50 rhesus macaques eating from a deer feeder in his backyard.

>> Read more trending news

Silver Springs State Park recently shut down two areas because of an increased monkey presence. A family visiting the state park last week recorded a video of the monkeys aggressively chasing them and showing their teeth.

Pritchard had put out a feeder with a camera to catch photos of deer, but instead, he got monkeys.

The rhesus macaques climb up the feeder’s stand and spin the plate to send out enough corn to feed the whole troop.

“They’re vicious. They’re extreme. I mean, they get extremely nasty,” Pritchard said.

The animals have taken more than 250 pounds of deer food in the last few days.

“Obviously the monkeys have it down pat. They don’t have to wait on it. They climb up the poles and they just sit there and spin it off the plate,” Pritchard said.

Researchers estimate 200 nonnative macaques live at the park and said many carry the deadly herpes B virus.

Pritchard is convinced hundreds more of the animals are in the area.

“I was standing there, looking out that window and I caught a glimpse of something,” said Pritchard. “I looked and there were 15 of them that came out and they were everywhere. But they kept looking like they could see or hear me in that shed.”

He and his family plan to move into the home on the property next week, and Pritchard hopes the animals don’t get too comfortable with his children around.

“As long as they don’t bother me or my kids, I’m not going to bother them,” he said.

Pritchard said his friend lives another 20 miles from his property and saw about 30 monkeys looking for food.

UPDATE: Florida woman’s unflattering obit found to be plagiarized in possible prank

NOTE: This story has been updated to include information about a second obituary and explanation about the first one.

An obituary for a woman from High Springs, Fla., originally did not appear to express much grief over her death. 

The obituary, first published on June 27 in the Cherokee Scout in North Carolina, described Cornelia June Rogers Miller as a woman who “made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life.”

The obituary described a life afflicted with drug use and addiction, and it lamented the loss not of Miller herself but of the mother figure Miller could have been.

The obituary did express gratitude for the generations spawned by Miller, noting that her grandchildren were “brighter and more attractive than the generation before them.” 

Despite the obituary running in the newspaper, Chattanooga ABC station WTVC found that it was plagiarized from Dolores Aguilar’s 2008 obituary that ran in the Vallejo Times-Herald in California.

Robert Miller, June Miller’s son, told WTVC he didn’t know who wrote the obituary, and that his mother didn’t battle addiction. He thought it might have been a prank from one of his sisters. 

>> Read more trending news

After speaking to Robert Miller, the Cherokee Scout posted a second, more positive, obituary that refers to June as a “devoted military wife and homemaker” who “made a wicked lemon pound cake,” according to WTVC.

The small-town paper has yet to remove the original obituary from the paper or online, but publisher David Brown tells WTVC that they are considering taking it down.

Cupcake-throwing fight between brother, sister escalates, ends in arrests

A sibling rivalry between a pregnant sister and her older brother started innocently enough with cupcake-throwing, but ended with both in jail. 

>> Read more trending news

Latanya E. Daugherty, 24, who is pregnant, was arguing with her brother, Eddie R. Yaddow, 30, around 1:30 a.m. Saturday inside their Florida home when she started pelting cupcakes at him, according to a police report obtained by the Smoking Gun.

Yaddow retaliated by removing the frosting off his arms and chest and putting it in her hair, the Smoking Gun reported.

The Indian River County Sheriff’s report said that he hit her in the head and kicked her in the stomach. She said she is four to six weeks pregnant. 

Their mother watched the fight and confirmed what happened, including that Daugherty was the initial aggressor. 

>> Related: Man discovers human skull while mowing the lawn

Yaddow was charged with felony battery, while Daugherty was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. 

Read more here

Man allegedly beats security guard, carjacks limo, backs into police vehicle in Florida

A man who was kicked out of a downtown Orlando, Florida, bar early Monday beat a security guard, carjacked a limousine driver, drove against traffic, backed up into an unmarked police truck and crashed into a planter, the Orlando Police Department said.

>> Read more Floridoh! stories

The man, whose identity hasn't been released, seemed to be under the influence "of something" when he was kicked out of Bullitt Bar on East Pine Street near South Court Avenue, Orlando police Lt. Jonathan Bigelow said.

The man started walking toward The Plaza, beat a security guard who approached him and ran away, Bigelow said.

>> On PHOTOS: Man accused of carjacking limo driver in downtown Orlando

Police said the man opened the driver's door of a Ford Excursion limousine parked outside Gitto's Pizza, pulled out the driver, hopped into the driver's seat and drove against traffic on East Pine Street.

The limo driver, whose face was lacerated during the struggle, flagged down officers in an unmarked patrol truck shortly after 1:30 a.m. to notify them of what happened, investigators said.

>> Read more trending news

The officers found the limo, which was stopped in traffic facing the right direction on East Pine Street east of South Orange Avenue, and they pulled up behind it, police said.

Investigators said the man put the vehicle in reverse, crashed into the police truck, drove around a vehicle that was stopped in front of the limo and drove onto a sidewalk.

"It is (believed) the suspect was just trying to get out of the area quickly," Bigelow said. "And in doing so, (he) backed up to create distance from the vehicle stopped in front of him in order to drive around it when it impacted the unmarked truck."

The man plowed into a tree in a concrete planter about 50 feet from the crash scene, causing minor damage to the City Arts Factory building, police said.

"A passerby immediately rushed over to the suspect vehicle and assisted with apprehending the suspect as officers were approaching the suspect vehicle," Bigelow said.

The incident remains under investigation.

Florida couple find Burmese python in boat 

A stowaway Burmese python was found in a boat headed from Everglades City to Orlando for repairs, wildlife officials say.

When the couple, who own the boat, pulled the deck back to inspect the engine, they found the 8-foot snake slithering, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.

>> Read more trending news

The boat owners humanely killed the animal and reported it to wildlife officials.

FWC officers said any resident who spots an invasive species, such as Burmese pythons, should call the Exotic Species Hotline.

The removal of the snake qualified the couple for a chance to win a prize through the Python Pickup Program. 

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