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Latest from Stephanie Brown

    The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has identified the person found dead on Moncrief Road Sunday as 16-year-old Marquette Clark. JSO was called to the scene on Moncrief near Ken Knight Road at 3:12PM, in reference to a man who was shot. We’re told the victim was found dead in the road. There is no suspect information available at this time, but JSO says this is being worked as a murder investigation. If you have any information, you’re asked to contact JSO at 904-630-0500  or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip and be eligible for a possible reward by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
  • The Florida Department of Transportation says they have repaired a drainage pipe that caved in, leading a portion of Beach Boulevard to collapse- but the road can’t re-open just yet. The right turn lane of Beach Blvd eastbound at Falcon Ridge, which is near Hodges, has been closed since mid-last week because of the collapse. The FDOT says a 48-inch drainage pipe caved in, and the hole that formed as a result grew large quickly, because of the high levels of rain we’ve been seeing. The FDOT now says the corrugated metal pipe that caved in has been successfully replaced with 20 feet of  corrugated plastic piping. The hole has also been filled with soil and is currently level. Final asphalt and concrete work can’t yet take place, though, because good weather conditions are needed for that to be done. The FDOT says crews are ready to work as weather conditions improve, but there is no clear timeline right now. They had initially estimated repairs to take about a week to  complete, but say that is contingent on the weather and other unforeseen circumstances.
  • More than a year after Duval County Public Schools’ prior Superintendent stepped down to take the top spot in Detroit, the Duval School Board has named the person they want to lead the District in to the future. By a unanimous vote, the Board selected Dr. Diana Greene, who is currently the Superintendent in Manatee County, FL. They have authorized the start of contract negotiations with Greene. Among the reasons Board Members say they voted for Greene are her experience in Florida, and specifically as a Superintendent. “We’re gunna need someone who can be the steady hand to work through that next phase of implementation of everything, and keeping things going,” says Board Member Becki Couch. Couch and others noted Florida’s legislative climate, which has recently included mandating boosting school security without fully funding the cost and a contentious law that makes it easier for charter schools to receive public funding and expand operations. Areas like that continue to pose a challenge in the District, and the Board wants to make sure they’re prepared. “I think it’s important that the next Superintendent not only know how to do the things well that we do today, but also knows how to do the things we need to start doing, and do tomorrow,” says Board Member Scott Shine. Another area the Board touted was Greene bringing in revenue to Manatee County. “She has done some amazing things. She’s bold, she’s not afraid of doing the things she needs to do, she’s done wonderful work in Manatee,” says Board Member Cheryl Grymes. She led the effort to have voters renew a half-cent sales tax for school capital needs and add a new one mill property tax increase to make teacher salary more competitive, among other things. “Our most valuable asset that we have as a District is our teachers,” says Board Member Warren Jones. And at the end of the day, it’s also about the quality of education. Board Member Lori Hershey noted Greene’s “innovative” approach, especially with ESE students. Board Chair Paula Wrights says Greene is progressive and can meet the challenges that are ahead. “Because of her exceptional instructional design expertise, and her ability to recognize and evaluate high quality instruction,” Wright says. Speaking with WOKV after her selection, Greene says she is “incredibly honored and humbled” by the Board’s decision. “Moving to a larger school district will definitely be... I don’t want to say a challenge, but it definitely will be something that I’ve been working for my career. I’ve worked to be prepared for this opportunity,” she says. Greene says her priority will be to ensure every student in Duval County receives a high quality education in the public school system. She believes that ties closely to ensuring schools are safe, and says that will be a focus for her. Right now, she is looking at ensuring there is a smooth transition with the interim Superintendent, to make sure there’s a strong foundation as she takes over. Greene has been the Superintendent in Manatee County since May 2015. She has been in education for 33 years, including time as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, as well as roles in curriculum development, staff development, and senior executive leadership. Initially, Board Member Ashley Smith Juarez said she was in favor of another finalist, Michael Dunsmore, however she voted for Greene in the end, making it a unanimous decision. Dr. Patricia Willis has been operating as the interim Superintendent, through this selection process. She retired in 2012, after previously serving as Deputy Superintendent. The School Board previously decided the interim candidate would not be eligible to apply for the permanent Superintendent position. The selection process started last August, and since that time the School Board engaged a search firm to find candidates. Three finalists were selected earlier this week, and the Board then publicly interviewed each candidate, leading to Friday’s vote. Contract negotiations must still take place, but pending that, Greene has accepted the offer and is tentatively slated to start July 1st. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says he is looking forward to working with Greene. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund also congratulated Greene on the position. “In her, our community has found a leader who is deeply committed to supporting teachers and principals across our district in improving outcomes for students and to bringing financial solvency to Duval County. This is demonstrated in the progress that schools in Manatee County have made under her watch, and through her successful efforts to gain the community’s trust after periods of instability,” says a statement from the JPEF. This is a developing story that will be updated through the day.
  • Jacksonville firefighters have rescued a kitten from under the Fuller Warren Bridge. Jacksonville Association of Firefighters Local 122 President Randy Wyse says the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Animal Care teamed up for the rescue. Wyse says someone saw the cat, but it would run away when firefighters tried to get it, so they set a trap last night. They took the trap down this morning, with the kitten inside, he says.
  • A “little library” has opened at the Atlantic Beach Police Department. Oceanside Rotary Club donations helped stock the shelves. Children are encouraged to borrow books from the nook, and it is open year-round. The library is in the lobby of the Police Department, at 850 Seminole Road.
  • A man in his late teens or early twenties has been found dead off Old Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville has been identified as Christopher Fonte’. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says they were called to the scene around 2:30AM and found the victim already deceased. He was found in a cul-de-sac near a railroad track, between Melson Avenue and St. Clair Street. The cause of death has not yet been released, but JSO says they do not believe it was a natural death. There is no suspect information available at this time. If you have any information about this incident, you’re asked to contact  JSO at 904-630-0500 or JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers at 1 -866-845-TIPS.
  • One person is dead, following a crash involving a semi-truck and box truck. All lanes  of I-95 NB were blocked at State Road 200 for the investigation. About seven hours after the initial closure, all lanes re-opened. The Florida Highway Patrol says the box truck driver was heading southbound, when he lost control, hit the median guardrail, and crossed in to northbound traffic. The crash report says he then collided with the semi, which was heading northbound. The driver of the box truck suffered serious injuries, and the drive of the semi was pronounced dead on the scene. The deceased driver is a 54-year-old from Plant City, but his identity is being withheld pending notification to his family.
  • The remains of fallen Jacksonville officer Lance Whitaker will be transported to a funeral home Thursday, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is encouraging their members and the public to pay their respects by lining the route. Whitaker- who was on the force 17 years- died during a single-vehicle crash on 295 at Alta Tuesday morning. He was responding to another crash as the time, and investigators believe weather was likely a factor, although the investigation is still ongoing. JSO says he will be moved from the Medical Examiner to the Hardage-Giddens Funeral Home Thursday at 11AM. The route will be on Jefferson Street, from 8th Street down through Riverside Avenue. The escort will then turn right on Edison Avenue, left on Oak Street, and in to the back of the Funeral Home, which is on Park Street. JSO motorcycle units will be providing an escort, and personnel have been asked to line the route with their patrol cars with lights on, to show respect. JSO says the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department also plans to have engines along the route, and officers from other local law enforcement agencies are welcome to participate. Members of the public  who want to line the route are being asked to stand in the sidewalks along either side of Riverside Avenue, between Jackson Street and Forest Street. If you’re unable to attend, the Fraternal Order of Police 530 is also encouraging donations to Whitaker’s family.
  • As WOKV first reported earlier this week, the JAXSPORTS Council has now confirmed Florida State and Boise State football will face off in Jacksonville next year. The game will take place Labor Day weekend at TIAA Bank Field, which was formerly known as EverBank Field. The game will be nationally televised. The JAXSPORTS Council says FSU has a traditionally strong fanbase in Jacksonville, and they’re always looking to tap in to big opportunities to bring attention to the River City. The organization says they’ve been specifically working to bring an opening weekend college football game to Jacksonville for a long time. This will be the first time FSU has faced Boise State. It’s part of a two-game series, with the second game in 2020. Ticket priority will be given to FSU Boosters and Season Ticket Holders, then TaxSlayer Gator Bowl ticket holders/JAXSPORTS members, and finally, the general public. FSU’s ticket request period starts November 1, 2018, through their website or 888-FSU-NOLE. The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl and JAXSPORTS ticket request period begins February 1, 2019, through their website. Boise State ticket requests start in the spring of 2019, through their website or 208-426-4737.
  • Not much information has been officially confirmed following police activity that prompted a lockdown at two Duval County schools, but witness accounts are detailing a shocking string of crimes. We first told you Wednesday afternoon that Jacksonville Heights Elementary and Westside High were put on lockdown because of police activity in the area. Those lockdowns were in effect for about an hour, but DCPS says all students and staff were safe during that time. While the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office initially said they were called to the scene by Duval School Police, DCPS says JSO has since taken the lead in the investigation. We’ve requested the report in to the nature of the police activity, but that hasn’t yet been received. Witnesses on the scene tell our partner Action News Jax that several armed suspects- possibly teens- crashed in to them and then fled on foot. We’re told the car those teens were in was stolen from the Riverside area, and there appears to be bullet holes in the vehicle. The District notified Westside High parents about the incident, saying the lockdown happened just after dismissal. They said the off-campus investigation is still underway, so they didn’t give specifics about the incident, but instead thanked law enforcement for a swift response. As we get more information from investigators, we will update you on WOKV.
  • Stephanie Brown

    Assistant News Director

    Stephanie Brown is the WOKV Assistant Director of News and Afternoon Reporter. She guides the direction of WOKV’s news content, frequently contributes to social and digital platforms, and is a leading voice on-air. Stephanie has been with the team full-time since May 2012, which is when she graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in telecommunication and political science. When she’s not enterprising story ideas or digging in to an investigation, she’s likely cooking or enjoying downtime with her dog.

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The Latest News Headlines

  • A police officer was shot Monday while investigating a report of suspicious activity in Baltimore County, Maryland, according to authorities. >> Read more trending news  WJZ-TV reported that the officer, who was not immediately identified, died after she was shot in the head Monday, however, authorities said in a tweet around 4 p.m. that the officer was “injured and taken to a local hospital.” One person was at large after the attack. Baltimore County Councilman David Marks wrote in a Twitter post that the officer was shot in Perry Hall, near Belair and Lausmier roads. Police warned residents to shelter in place as they continued to investigate Monday's shooting.  Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Investigators in Washington state last week made an arrest in a 31-year-old double homicide, tracking the suspect down using the same genealogy techniques used to capture the suspected Golden State Killer. William Earl Talbott II, 55, of the Seattle-Tacoma area, was booked Thursday with one count of first-degree murder in the November 1987 death of Tanya Van Cuylenborg, 18, of British Columbia, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office officials said Friday in a news conference.  Van Cuylenborg and her boyfriend, 20-year-old Jay Cook, vanished Nov. 18, 1987, on an overnight trip to Seattle to buy furnace parts for Cook’s family’s business.  They were reported missing when they failed to return home. A man found Van Cuylenborg’s body Nov. 24 near Bellingham in Skagit County. She had been bound with plastic zip ties, sexually abused and shot in the head, the Toronto Star reported.  Cook’s body was found two days later, battered and wrapped in a blue blanket that did not belong to the couple, about 75 miles away under a bridge near Monroe, which is in Snohomish County. Cook had been beaten and strangled.  “It's been 31 years since this horrific crime took place,” Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt said Friday. “Today, we are one step closer for justice for Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg.” Investigators from Skagit and Snohomish counties worked the three-decades-long case together.  Talbott’s arrest comes just five weeks after Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary released composite drawings of a possible suspect that were made using DNA believed to have been left behind by the killer. The images showed a white man with light hair and green or hazel eyes.  The killer’s DNA, which was found at the scene of Van Cuylenborg’s slaying, was also uploaded to a genealogy website and used to create family trees with people who shared significant amounts of DNA with the unknown suspect, officials said.  CeCe Moore, the genealogist who worked on the case, said Friday that she traced the suspected killer’s DNA to his great-grandparents, then used “reverse genealogy” to fill in the blanks on the branches.  “This led me to two descendants of the great-grandparents of the original matches who married, thus tying the two families together,” Moore said.  The couple had one son -- Talbott.  Once Talbott was identified as a potential suspect, detectives obtained his DNA from a cup he used and threw out.  Reverse genealogy made headlines around the world earlier this year when investigators looking for the Golden State Killer, a serial killer and rapist believed to be responsible for 12 homicides, more than 50 rapes and about 100 burglaries across California in the 1970s and 1980s, arrested Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 72, after they said they matched his DNA to that of the killer.  Trenary on Friday thanked the investigators who never gave up on solving the slayings of the young Canadian couple.  “It’s a difficult thing for us, but candidly, this is what we do our job for,” Trenary said.  Reichardt said it was the forensic work that detectives did in 1987, which preserved the DNA evidence, that ultimately led to Talbott’s arrest.  “The next step is prosecution,” Reichardt said.  Cook and Van Cuylenborg left their Saanich homes bound for Victoria, where they were planning to take the Port Angeles ferry to Seattle. The couple made the ferry and were spotted buying snacks along the way to Seattle in Hoodsport and Allyn, both located in Mason County, Washington, according to Snohomish County officials.  They were last seen alive buying tickets for the 11:35 p.m. Bremerton-to-Seattle ferry the night they vanished. KIRO 7 News in Seattle reported that Van Cuylenborg was found six days later, partially clothed, in a ditch. Cook’s van was found the next day, locked and abandoned, in a Blue Diamond parking lot in Bellingham, located in Whatcom County.  Cook’s body was found the day after the van.  The victims’ families last month offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who could provide information before the end of the year that would lead to a positive match to the DNA in the case, KIRO reported.  Members of the Cook and Van Cuylenborg families were at Friday’s news conference. They expressed a mix of emotions at the news of Talbott’s arrest.  “Yesterday, the killer had his last sleep in his own bed, his last coffee break, his last day of freedom,' Cook’s sister, Laura Baanstra, said. “It’s hard to put into words the relief, joy and great sorrow this arrest brings.” “They were both gentle souls, caring and trusting kids, and they were betrayed,” Van Cuylenborg’s brother, John, said. “Hopefully, this is a start of some justice for them.” Talbott has not yet been charged with Cook’s slaying, but investigators continue to process evidence and interview witnesses related to that portion of the case. Detectives are asking anyone who knew Talbott or his activities in 1987 or 1988 to come forward. Talbott, who was 24 years old at the time of the slayings, was living with his parents in Woodinville, about seven miles from where Cook’s body was found.  Detectives are hoping to find witnesses who saw Talbott with Cook’s van in November 1987 or with a 35mm Minolta camera that Van Cuylenborg had with her at the time she was slain.  The camera’s lens was recovered in 1990 and traced to a pawn shop in Portland, Oregon, police officials said. The body of the camera remains missing.  They are also looking for anyone who knows anything about the blanket Cook’s body was found wrapped in.  Anyone with information related to the case should call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 425-388-3845.
  • The man accused of being the notorious Golden State Killer has been charged with first-degree murder in the last four of the dozen homicides officially attributed to the serial rapist and killer who tormented communities throughout California in the 1970s and 1980s. “Violent cold cases never grow cold for victims or their loved ones. They never do,” Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said Thursday during a news conference to announce the charges against Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 72, of Citrus Heights. “In fact, most of them spend their lives feverishly seeking answers and desperately hoping for justice,” Dudley said.  The families appeared one step closer to justice Thursday as Dudley’s office filed charges against DeAngelo in the Dec. 30, 1979, double slaying of Dr. Robert Offerman, 44, and his girlfriend, Dr. Debra Alexandria Manning, 35, inside Offerman’s condominium in Goleta. The couple’s killer broke in through a sliding glass door, tied them up and shot them to death.  Santa Barbara County prosecutors have also filed charges against DeAngelo in the July 27, 1981, double slaying of Greg Sanchez, 27, and Cheri Domingo, 35, who were killed in Domingo’s home just blocks from where the Offerman-Manning homicides took place nearly two years before. Sanchez was shot and beaten to death, while Domingo was raped before she was bludgeoned.  DeAngelo faces sentencing enhancements in all four homicides due to them being multiple slayings, according to the felony complaint. The crimes were also committed during the commission of other crimes, such as burglary and rape, and the perpetrator used a firearm during the crimes.  DeAngelo, a Vietnam veteran and former police officer in northern California, was arrested April 24 in Sacramento County after a DNA match to evidence in the Golden State Killer case linked him to several of the crime scenes. The Golden State Killer, alternatively known as the Original Night Stalker, the East Area Rapist and the Visalia Ransacker, was suspected of at least 12 homicides, more than 50 rapes and over 100 burglaries.  Related story: ‘Golden State Killer’ suspect tracked down using DNA on genealogy website, officials say Cold case investigators narrowed down their suspect list after Paul Holes, a now-retired Contra Costa County investigator, uploaded the Golden State Killer’s DNA profile onto an open source ancestry website, where he found a similar profile belonging to the alleged killer’s distant relative.  Once DeAngelo, through the database and other circumstantial evidence, became a prime suspect, investigators obtained his DNA from material he discarded and more conclusively matched his genetic profile to that of the Golden State Killer.  DeAngelo, who was arrested outside his home while he worked on a woodworking project, was initially charged with two counts of murder in the 1978 shooting deaths of Brian and Kate Maggiore. The Rancho Cordova couple were walking their dog the night of Feb. 2 when they were accosted by a man in a ski mask burglarizing a home.  Brian Maggiore, a military policeman, was shot to death after he began chasing the burglar, authorities said. The gunman then chased down Katie Maggiore and fatally shot her.  The Sacramento Bee reported that DeAngelo is scheduled for a hearing Monday in the Maggiore case.  >> Read more trending news DeAngelo has also been charged with six additional homicides in Ventura and Orange counties. His DNA was reportedly matched to a profile found at the scene of the March 1980 slayings of Lyman and Charlene Smith, who were found dead in their Ventura home. The Smiths were bound together with drapery cords and bludgeoned to death with a log from their fireplace. The couple’s bodies were discovered by their 12-year-old son.  In Orange County, DeAngelo has been charged with murder in the August 1980 killings of Keith and Patrice Harrington, who were beaten to death in their Dana Point home. He is also charged there with raping and murdering Manuela Witthuhn and Janelle Cruz, both of Irvine. Witthuhn, 28, was slain in February 1981 while her husband was in the hospital, and Cruz, 18, was killed in May 1986 while her family was on vacation.  Dudley on Thursday credited Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert for her “true show of great leadership” by establishing a task force two years ago aimed at renewing the search for the Golden State Killer. Schubert teamed up with prosecutors and investigators from all the jurisdictions in which the prolific serial offender was believed to have struck.  “From that moment on, we never stopped hoping or believing that an arrest would be made,” Dudley said.  Dudley said that Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office detectives began investigating DeAngelo the day he was arrested in Sacramento County and that, as a result of the evidence and interviews in the case, she decided to file the charges against him.  Each charge against him carries the possibility of the death penalty, Dudley said.  Despite facing multiple murder charges in multiple jurisdictions, DeAngelo remains in the Sacramento County Jail. Schubert told the Bee that the entire case could be moved to Southern California, since most of the slayings of which he is accused took place there.  Though the rapes committed during the killer’s time as the East Area Rapist will likely not be prosecuted due to the expiration on the statute of limitations, it remains to be seen if DeAngelo will be tied to a homicide committed by the Visalia Ransacker.  The Ransacker is suspected in the September 1975 killing of College of the Sequoias journalism professor Claude Snelling, who was shot to death outside his home after a man woke his 16-year-old daughter and forced her at gunpoint to leave their home.  Snelling, who looked out a window and saw the attempted kidnapping, ran outside and was shot twice. He collapsed in the doorway of his home as he tried to give chase to the fleeing gunman.  The Visalia Times Delta reported that ballistics testing on the bullets that killed Snelling tied the killer to a previous Ransacker burglary.
  • The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office and the St. Augustine Police Department are both investigating similar reports of victims being sprayed with fire extinguishers, which is considered to be a misdemeanor battery. According to St. Johns County deputies, the first reported incident was at the Walmart on US 1 South, last Tuesday, May 15th.  In that incident, 3 victims told deputies they were sitting in their vehicle, when two white males approached the car and asked them, 'Do you know Omega?' and then proceeded to spray them with the extinguisher.  Several minutes later, St. Augustine police say they received a similar call. In that case, an employee at Salt Life on A1A said a vehicle pulled up next to him and asked for directions to Daytona Beach. As he tried to help, he was then sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher.  St. Augustine police say they received an additional report of someone being sprayed with an extinguisher while they were walking their dog on 16th Street. In that incident, the suspects asked where 'Hamilton Street' was.  In all the incidents, the suspect's vehicle is described as a 2012-2016 Silver Dodge Charger, with possible Virginia plates, and an advanced stereo system.  The suspects are believed to be two white males with dark clothing and short brown hair. A female may have also been with them.  If you have any information about who is responsible, you're urged to contact either the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office or the St. Augustine Police Department.
  • With Governor Rick Scott announcing nearly $3.5 million in Florida Defense Grants on Monday, WOKV has confirmed that includes money for our area.  According to Scott's office, as part of these grants, the City of Jacksonville will be receiving a $90,000 Defense Reinvestment Grant to continue support for growth at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, as well as Naval Station (NS) Mayport.  We've also confirmed the Clay County Economic Development Corporation will be awarded a $56,000 Defense Reinvestment Grant to strengthen and diversify the area's non-defense economy, while promoting training operations at the Camp Blanding Training Center.  The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which administers that Defense Reinvestment Grants, says the grants are provided to communities to either support the needs of a military installation or to help expand the community's non-defense economy.  'Defense communities play a large role in Florida's robust economy. We are proud to invest in our military installations and the local communities they support,' says Cissy Proctor, the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.  Scott's office estimates that Florida's military installations contribute more than $84 billion in economic impact, while also supporting nearly 800,000 jobs in our state.

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