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2000 jump eventsupdated: 08.07.20
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|12.25.00: article Skyway suicide patrol beefed up|
sptimes.com, Two troopers will spend Christmas on the bridge to deter
troubled or depressed people from jumping. By MIKE BRASSFIELD
ST. PETERSBURG -- Two state troopers will spend Christmas on the Sunshine Skyway bridge to keep people from jumping off.
The Florida Highway Patrol recently has been posting a trooper on the bridge every day for suicide-prevention duty, FHP supervisors said.
"It's been going on for a while. It's not something new that just popped up," FHP Lt. T. Hines said Sunday. "We've had one officer out there for quite some time now."
On Sunday, however, the number of troopers posted on the Skyway was doubled. That will continue today.
"Normally it's just one," Hines said.
The Highway Patrol is trying to prevent deaths during the holiday season, when doctors say thoughts of suicide increase among the severely troubled or depressed.
This time of year, society puts a premium on appearing happy, according to Dr. David Shern, dean of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute in Tampa. People who don't fit that stereotype are confronted with it, and it brings into focus their feelings of hopelessness and isolation.
And the Skyway has the unfortunate reputation of being a magnet for suicides. It's the third-deadliest bridge in the country for suicides, after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and San Diego's Coronado Bridge.
The number of people who jump to their deaths from the Skyway has been rising: six in 1996, eight in 1997, 12 in 1998 and 12 again last year.
Just after midnight Nov. 22, the day before Thanksgiving, two St. Petersburg men made a suicide pact and parked on the Skyway's center span.
One of them, 30-year-old Rodney Kibler, had broken up with his girlfriend and was on medication. Kibler jumped to his death -- the sixth person to do so this year.
FHP Cpl. Richard Kraus drove up and stopped the other man, Arthur "Bill" Clark, 28, from doing the same.
"You don't want to do that!" Kraus yelled as Clark swung his legs over the wall. Kraus persuaded Clark to sit in his patrol cruiser and talk instead.
Shortly after taking office last year, Gov. Jeb Bush prodded the state Department of Transportation to look into installing fences or safety nets on the Skyway to cut down on suicides.
But the DOT has ruled out both of those options and is trying a different strategy: putting more state troopers and security cameras on the bridge. New video cameras are to be installed toward the top of the Skyway next year.
|11.22.00: jumper, 12:10am, male, no hotline
phones, hit water, died
Rodney Kibler, 30
11.22.00: save, male
Arthur Clark, 28
|Hillsborough Sheriff, Apparent suicide, November 22, 2000, 12:10 a.m., the victim, a male age 30, drove his 1982 Honda onto the Skyway Bridge, stopped in the center of the span (southbound) and exited his vehicle. He was accompanied by Arthur Clark, 28, DOB: 8-5-72m, Baker acted. The two had apparently entered into a double suicide pact. Florida State Trooper Corporal R.J. Kraus pulled up behind the Honda and observed the victim climb over the railing and jump off of the bridge. Trooper Kraus then prevented Mr. Clark from jumping and took him into protective custody. The United States Coast Guard began a search for the male jumper. Mr. Clark was taken for psychiatric evaluation. Both parties had reportedly been drinking. At approximately 12:00 p.m. today, the Unites States Coast Guard recovered the deceased body of a male, floating in the water and transported the male to a Manatee County marina. The investigation is continuing. The identity of the deceased male has not been confirmed.|
11.23.00, St. Petersburg Times, Trooper stops 2nd man's leap off bridge;
Two friends, 30 and 28, plan to jump off the Sunshine Skyway bridge. One does, but the other is talked down from the edge.
When Cpl. Richard Kraus pulled behind the abandoned car on the Sunshine Skyway bridge, he saw two men standing near the concrete wall. The waters of Tampa Bay glistened nearly 200 feet below.
"Did you break down?" Kraus asked them. One of the men, 30-year-old Rodney Kibler, inched closer to the wall. Kibler asked how high they were. "The next thing I know is he puts his leg over. He waves to his friend and says, 'See ya,' and jumped," Kraus said Wednesday.
Kraus, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, said St. Petersburg residents Kibler and Arthur "Bill" Clark had been drinking and tried to fulfill a suicide pact just after midnight Wednesday. The trooper thwarted Clark's attempt after he swung one leg over the wall and made the sign of the cross. Kraus talked the 28-year- old into sitting in an FHP cruiser.
At noon Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard recovered a man's body, believed to be Kibler's, in the water off the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Positive identification had not been made by the evening.
Kibler was the sixth person to jump off the Sunshine Skyway this year. The tally includes Virginia Sheley, a 73-year-old Bradenton woman who leaped six hours before Kibler jumped. Her body has not been found. The deaths come during the holiday season, when thoughts of suicide increase among the severely troubled or depressed, doctors say.
"The notion is at this time of year, there's such a premium on appearing happy," said Dr. David Shern, dean of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute in Tampa. "People who don't fit that stereotype are confronted with it, and it brings into sharp focus their sense of hopelessness and isolation."
Kibler and Clark had problems. They battled drug or alcohol abuse. Both joined AA programs. Both were in trouble with the law: Clark for marijuana and cocaine possession; Kibler for burglary and violating probation after a recent grand theft arrest.
Kibler was a welder and father. His mother in Ohio had custody of two of his daughters. His third daughter lived with her mother. "The last time I heard from him was Mother's Day," said Kibler's mother, Gerry Mahony, who was too upset to talk further Wednesday.
The men had been drinking together Tuesday night. Kibler had broken up with his girlfriend and was on medication. They drove to the Sunshine Skyway and parked Kibler's 1982 Honda in a southbound lane of the center span. At 12:04 a.m., Kraus got a call from the toll booth about two possible jumpers. Two minutes later, Kraus was talking with Clark and Kibler as the blue lights from his cruiser whirled in the dark. "Are you guys okay?" Kraus asked. Before Kraus could stop him, Kibler smiled at the trooper and Clark and jumped.
Kraus had never seen anything like it in his 19 years with the FHP. "Weird," he said. "It's strange. You think you've seen it all, then it gets you." He was left staring at Clark, who started screaming of Kibler: "How can you do this?" Clark swung his leg over the wall. "Hey!" Kraus yelled, startling him. Clark made the sign of the cross and swung his second leg over. "You don't want to do that!" Kraus told him. "Come over here and talk about it."
Kraus, 43, grabbed Clark and persuaded him to sit in the cruiser and talk. Clark, an attendant at an Amoco gas station on Fourth Street N, was taken to South Bay Hospital in Sun City for a psychiatric evaluation.
At 2:44 a.m. Wednesday, Clark called former roommate Igor Elchanski from the hospital and left a message. "Rodney's dead," Clark said. "He jumped off the Skyway. Please call me. He did it, dude. Rodney's done it, man. Rodney's dead, and I don't know what to do."
Elchanski, 32, said he called the hospital and spoke with Clark. Clark told him he had drunk four or five beers. "He told me he chickened out to jump," said Elchanski, also an attendant at the Amoco station. He said Clark did not seem like someone who would want to kill himself. "He likes himself too much to do this," Elchanski said. "He likes attention, likes to dress up nice and impress girls."
- Times researchers Cathy Wos and Caryn Baird contributed to this report, which includes information from the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
Call for help
Telephones have been installed on the Sunshine Skyway bridge that allow people to call the Crisis Center of Hillsborough County's hotline for emergency counseling if they are considering suicide. All they have to do is pick up the handset and push the red button, and a specially trained counselor will answer.
If you or someone you know is having a crisis, here are two suicide hotlines to call:
Personal Enrichment Through Mental Health Services: (727) 791- 3131.
Crisis Center of Hillsborough County: (813) 234-1234.
11.24.00, St. Petersburg Times; Body of Skyway jumper identified, another found;
ST. PETERSBURG -- A body recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard Wednesday has been identified as the St. Petersburg man who jumped off the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Rodney Kibler, 30, had entered into a suicide pact with his friend, Arthur "Bill" Clark, 28, also of St. Petersburg. Kibler jumped from the center span after midnight Wednesday, but a trooper talked Clark away from the wall.
|06.24.03, Mark Kibler, Rockwell, NC., USA: My brother jumped off of the Skyway bridge a couple days before Thanksgiving in 2000, his friend was the one that was stopped from jumping. My brothers name was Rod Kibler. Don't worry I'm not offended by your site at all, as a matter of fact now that I see the bridge it brings some closure. Take care and have a great week :-)|
|11.21.00: jumper, 06:45pm, female, no
hotline phones, hit water, died
Virginia Sheley, 73
|Hillsborough Sheriff, Virginia Sheley, 73, DOB: 9-17-27, Abandoned vehicle / missing person, November 21, 2000, 6:45 p.m. On November 21, 2000, Sheriffs deputies were called to the Skyway Bridge reference an abandoned vehicle. Deputies observed a 1984 Dodge Caravan parked in the center span in the northbound lane. Deputies found a womans purse in the van and contacted relatives of the registered owner. The United States Coast Guard searched the waters under the bridge and as of this time have found nothing. Search efforts have been hampered by six foot seas. The vehicle was found not to have any mechanical problems. Detectives are continuing their investigation.|
|11.25.00, St. Petersburg Times pay-per-view, A fisherman found the body of Virginia Sheley, Bradenton, near Anna Maria Island on Thanksgiving Day about 12:30 p.m., said spokesman Rod Reder of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Deputies found Sheley's 1984 Dodge Caravan abandoned on the bridge about 6:45 p.m. on Nov. 21. Her purse was found inside.|
|06.02.08, Paula, Florida, The 2000 # 5 Jumper you refer to on this date, was my Mother. To correct her age & DOB is 75, 9/17/1925 I pray to God that you never know the pain of your parent taking their own life in such a tragic way. I look in to the eyes of Virginia's two beautiful Grandchildren and Five innocent Great Grand children and her only child & Daughter, myself. I had to move away and leave Bradenton and the area, having to many painful memories there. I lived there over 50 years. I will never get over this, But my Love for Jesus has made it bearable. So I hope all you SICKIES enjoy your little lottery of guessing when the next troubled, maybe physically in pain person, like my Mother will end their pain. My Mother & I will be standing inside the gate to Heaven, and we will be the ones doing the laughing when you don't get to enter, and as you step onto the BUS TO HELL . Have a nice day !! (we are truly sorry your mother took jumping off the bridge as the only way to end her pain and in doing so, creating so much pain for you and all those that love her. all we did was post the sheriff's report and the winning guess, yet you are so sure your god/jesus will send us on his bus ride to hell. you know that book of fables you love? that's right, the bible. in it you will find where this same god/jesus you so adore, declares suicide practitioners will also be going to hell. that's right, HELL! yet even though the bible declares this, you self righteous hypocrites bend and change the rules to suit your need and always ignore this bible truth, as well as any other you deem worthy to ignore. religion is awesome that way. you get to pick and choose the laws you will believe in, all the while sure of your place in heaven. it's a sweet deal and we hope it works out for you. perhaps you best not judge us, or you will have a seat on the bus too, as the jesus/god does not take kindly to you judging others, right? then again, ignoring that little rule is just another of those hypocritical moves the devout love to make. we do hope you cope with what your god has dealt you.)|
|06.06.00: jumper, 6am, male, no hotline
phones, hit water, died
Robert Byrnside, 44
|Hillsborough Sheriff, This morning at approximately 6:00 a.m., an employee of Department of Environmental Protection drove over the Skyway and noticed a 1995 Ford Mustang stopped on the bridge with an individual inside. Florida Highway Patrol responded to the vehicle and discovered no one inside. After looking in the water, they spotted the body of 44 year old Robert Byrnside. United States Coast Guard responded and recovered the body.|
around 6am, female, no hotline phones, hit water, lives in prison
Katherine Freeman, 41
|Hillsborough Sheriff, On May 15, 2000, the suspect, Ms Katherine Freeman entered the residence of the victims, shot Mr. Freeman, causing his death and then becoming involved in a physical altercation with Ms. Constance Freeman. She struck Constance Freeman in the head several times with the handgun and then fled the scene. Constance Freeman fled the residence to a friends house. Mr. Freeman called 9-1-1 and died soon after. As the Homicide Unit was investigating this incident, Ms. Katherine Freeman drove her 1999 Cadillac to the center span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, exited the vehicle and jumped off of the bridge. Katherine Freeman was located in the water by St. Petersburg Fire Rescue and brought to land where she was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center. As a result of the investigation, Sheriffs detectives obtained a warrant for Katherine Freemans arrest, charging her with 1st degree murder, armed burglary (dwelling) and aggravated battery.|
St. Petersburg Times, Tampa attorney slain; ex-wife jumps from Skyway
Tampa lawyer Grover Cleveland Freeman Jr., 54, was shot to death about 11:40 p.m. Monday at his Carrollwood home by his ex-wife, who beat up his current wife, drove to the Sunshine Skyway and jumped off one of its lower spans, surviving the plunge, authorities say.
Kathy Freeman broke both legs when she jumped from the bridge, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies have reported.
Freeman's current wife, Connie, was treated and released from a local hospital.
The shooting occurred at the home Mr. Freeman shared with his current wife at [address withheld] in Carrollwood. Mr. Freeman practiced law in the Tampa firm of Freeman, Hunter & Malloy.
05.17.00, St. Petersburg Times, Top lawyer slain; ex-wife charged, Suspect survives leap off Skyway
Investigators say prominent lawyer Grover Cleveland Freeman Jr., 54, was shot to death Monday night by his ex-wife, Katherine, in his home in Tampa's Carrollwood. Grover Cleveland Freeman lived there with his current wife, Constance.
By AMY HERDY
TAMPA -- Katherine Freeman delivered home-baked poundcakes, bathed a friend's young daughter and chatted with neighbors Monday afternoon in her tony Carrollwood subdivision.
Hours later, investigators say, she shot to death her ex-husband, successful lawyer Grover Cleveland Freeman Jr., 54, before beating and attempting to strangle his wife in the couple's two-story lakefront home in Carrollwood.
Katherine Freeman then drove her 1999 Cadillac to the Sunshine Skyway bridge early Tuesday morning and leaped from the center span.
Remarkably, she survived. Officials credited brisk winds with slowing the 140-pound woman's descent. She is thought to be the fifth person to survive the 200-foot fall since the bridge opened in 1987.
Katherine Freeman was still conscious after drifting more than 40 minutes in the main shipping channel before being plucked from the water by officials with St. Petersburg Fire Rescue, said spokesman David Nolsheim. An initial assessment of her condition showed possible broken legs and a broken pelvis, Nolsheim said.
She was taken to Bayfront Medical Center, where she underwent surgery and was in critical condition with internal injuries.
Tuesday afternoon, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies charged the 41-year-old homemaker and former stockbroker with first-degree murder, armed burglary and aggravated battery.
The chain of events stunned her upscale community and left the couple's 13-year-old daughter in shock, friends said.
"We can't fathom any of this happening," said Michele Karpenko, a friend of Katherine Freeman's who answered the door Tuesday morning at Freeman's home at [address withheld], just blocks from her ex-husband's house at [address withheld].
Like many neighbors, Karpenko described her friend as a vivacious, upbeat person who doted on her daughter and maintained a friendly relationship with her ex-husband despite their 1996 divorce after 10 years of marriage.
"They were best friends who got married," she said. After the divorce, she said, Katherine Freeman would sometimes comment she missed her ex-spouse.
"She would say, "I realize how much I liked him as a person,"' Karpenko recalled.
Yet for some reason, investigators said, she armed herself with a handgun and entered her ex-husband's home shortly after 11:30 p.m. Monday. She then confronted him, said sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder, shooting him several times.
Upon hearing shots, Freeman's wife, Constance Freeman, 50, approached the pair and was attacked by Katherine Freeman, who choked her, pistol-whipped her and broke one of her fingers, Reder said.
"Mrs. Freeman then ran to a friend's house, and the suspect fled," Reder said.
Grover Freeman called 911 but died at the scene.
It is not clear how Katherine Freeman spent the time after the shooting and before leaping off the Sunshine Skyway bridge Tuesday morning about 6.
However, she did not return to her home where her daughter was in the care of her mother, said Karpenko, who was watching after the teen Tuesday.
A neighbor and close friend of the couple, Laurie Winkles, said Katherine Freeman may have reacted to tensions between her daughter and Constance Freeman, who had been with the teen Monday when the girl placed a call to her mother.
"She was very protective" of her daughter, said Winkles, who described the woman as "passionate, and utterly devoted" to her child. "Something must have been said to really tick her off."
The incident came as a surprise to others who said that Grover and Katherine Freeman were an ideal example of an amicable split.
Divorce records show that after the couple's breakup, Grover Freeman kept the marital home, valued at $650,000, as well as several condominiums, sports cars and various bank and stock accounts.
Katherine Freeman received $110,000 in cash, $96,000 in alimony and $1,450 in monthly child support, plus half the furniture and photographs.
Six months later, court records show, Grover Freeman remarried on Oct. 12, 1996, to Constance Elaine King. If that situation was difficult for Katherine Freeman, friends say, she never showed it.
It was one of many challenges she had faced in life.
In March 1983, sheriff's deputies said, someone shot to death her boyfriend, 30-year-old Ronald Heinlein, in his jewelry store on N Dale Mabry Highway.
"Kathy was dating Ronald, and he was a homicide victim," said Reder, the sheriff's spokesman, adding that the case remains open.
A year later, in February 1984, a robber took Katherine Freeman hostage after beating and robbing her in a jewelry store she owned on E Busch Boulevard in Tampa.
The suspect was shot by Tampa police 11 times in the store's parking lot. He recovered and eventually was sentenced to prison.
In 1986, friends said, Freeman had recently given birth and was living in the Mossvale Lane home when she was attacked by an intruder while her husband was out of town.
Yet despite her hardships, friends said, Katherine Freeman was not angry, bitter or resentful.
"Her attitude was, "Life goes on,"' said her friend Karpenko.
Recently, she had been typically upbeat, neighbors said, and making plans to take her daughter to Hawaii in two weeks.
When she did talk of her ex-husband, it was with respect, said Janine Rosen, who lives across the street from Katherine Freeman's one-story stone home.
"She spoke of him with admiration, talked of his successes," Rosen said.
For her part, Winkles speculated that the friend who e-mailed her jokes and organized outings for their kids was perhaps hiding an inner pain, accumulated from her life experiences.
"I wonder if it all just added up."
05.18.00, St. Petersburg Times, Shooting was act of frustration, investigators say. Details emerge that portray the murder suspect as a woman angry with her ex-husband and his wife. By AMY HERDY
TAMPA -- Kathie Freeman drove to her ex-husband's home Monday night with a loaded 9mm handgun she kept for protection, investigators said, then emptied the gun into Grover Freeman, shooting him 14 times.
Hit in the chest and mortally wounded, Grover Freeman managed to dial 911 before dying.
Wednesday, in the aftermath of the killing, details emerged that portray Kathie Freeman as an angry woman increasingly frustrated with her ex-husband, his current wife and differing views on how to raise Grover and Kathie Freeman's teenage daughter.
Naomia Swain, a housekeeper for three years for Grover Freeman, a successful Tampa attorney, and his wife, Connie, said Kathie Freeman appeared upset by her ex-husband's marriage.
"I think it really bothered her to see them together," Swain said.
After killing her ex-husband and striking his wife with the empty gun, police said, Kathie Freeman attempted suicide by jumping off the Sunshine Skyway bridge. Somehow, she survived.
She remains in critical condition at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg but is expected to survive the internal injuries and broken bones she suffered.
As she drifted in and out of consciousness Wednesday, making requests to see her daughter, investigators searched her home and garage at [address withheld] in Carrollwood. The 41-year-old homemaker and former stockbroker faces first-degree murder, armed burglary and aggravated battery charges.
Friends said Tuesday they were shocked by the violence and that the divorced couple had never shown any signs of friction. They had split amicably, continued to live near each other and shared in the raising of their daughter.
But Swain, the housekeeper, said she thinks Kathie Freeman was upset by recent developments in her ex-husband's current marriage. Grover and Connie Freeman had recently talked through some of their differences and pledged to stay together. Swain said the couple had spent the weekend as an inseparable pair, planting an herb garden and dining out on sushi.
That closeness, she said, may have angered Kathie Freeman.
"I guess it's true what they say about the fine line between love and hate," Swain said.
She described Connie Freeman, 50, as "classy, educated and kind," and said she did not interfere in the raising of Kathie and Grover Freeman's daughter. "She wasn't the evil stepmother," Swain said.
Beaten and bloody, Connie Freeman escaped Monday night by running first to one neighbor's home, and then another before finding shelter. She sought solace with friends Wednesday, said her husband's law partner, Howard Hunter of Freeman, Hunter and Malloy.
Hunter said Connie Freeman has planned her husband's memorial service, set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in downtown Tampa.
"She has an inner strength that I have been marveling at," Hunter said.
Friends said there were other sources of tension between Grover Freeman, 54, and his ex-wife.
While Kathie Freeman wanted the couple's daughter to attend a prestigious private school next year, friends say, Grover Freeman wanted her to go to a public school, in part to avoid what he feared would be a superficial crowd concerned with status.
"His concern was that she would then be around people more concerned with what they were wearing and what they were driving" than more valid issues, said Kurt Rhodaback, whose daughter is a friend of Freeman's daughter.
Whatever enraged Kathie Freeman, Swain said, was enough to make her break down the front doors to Grover Freeman's two-story, lakefront home at [address withheld] in Carrollwood on Monday night.
Wednesday afternoon, the frame of the two wooden doors remained splintered.
08.02.00: full article
The decision was a turnaround for Freeman, who attempted suicide last May after shooting her ex-husband and choking his wife in their lakefront Carrollwood home. She drove her 1999 Cadillac to the Sunshine Skyway bridge, removed her diamond earrings, and jumped. Amazingly, she survived.
While Katherine Freeman will live out her life in prison, Connie Freeman, who survived the attack that night, has had ovarian cancer diagnosed. In court Friday, Connie Freeman, 51, stood a few feet from Katherine Freeman and addressed the court.
"I am pleased that Katherine Freeman has come forward to accept her responsibility for her crime and has accepted the serious consequences of her crime," she said.
She expressed no bitterness and afterward, speaking to reporters, she said she did not object to the deal that allowed Katherine Freeman to escape death row.
"I feel this sentence was just," she said. "I will be able to go on with my life, and I know that is what Grover would have wanted."
In court, prosecutor Jay Pruner described how Katherine Freeman killed her 54-year-old ex-husband for money. She owed about $71,000 to credit card companies and was borrowing money from one credit card to buy overdraft protection to pay other credit card bills, Pruner said.
She had tapped out a $30,000 revolving line of credit against her mortgage and was borrowing money to buy stocks and then betting the stocks would turn a profit. Her alimony payments from her 10-year marriage had ended, and her only steady income was child support of $1,450 a month, court records showed.
Despite her debts, Freeman continued to live a lavish lifestyle, Pruner said, taking vacations to Europe, Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco.
Her solution? Kill her ex-husband and his wife, Pruner said. If they died, Grover Freeman's will left Freeman's daughter, then 14, a fortune, including his $472,000 house in Carrollwood.
Prosecutors said Freeman bought a 9mm handgun in Georgia, then slipped into her ex-husband's house late on the night of May 15, 2000. As Grover Freeman lay in bed, Katherine fired at him 16 times. Connie Freeman listened from the bedroom as her husband cried out in pain.
"You're next, b----!" Katherine Freeman said.
She then struck Connie Freeman with her pistol, which had jammed, and dragged her by the hair to the balcony of the two-story house, where she tried to throw her over the railing. Connie Freeman managed to break free and run from the house, seeking refuge at a neighbor's.
Her husband managed to dial 911. "Help . . . shot . . . ex-wife," he said.
Katherine Freeman fidgeted slightly Friday as the prosecutor described the night.
Sheriff's detectives recently interviewed Freeman about the 1983 shooting of 30-year-old Ronald Heinlein, who was Freeman's boyfriend at the time, according to Alan Evans, a photojournalist for NBC News in Atlanta and one of Grover Freeman's close friends. The killing never was solved.
A sheriff's spokeswoman declined to confirm Friday whether Katherine Freeman was a suspect in the 1983 shooting.
The Public Defender's Office represented Freeman at taxpayers' expense even though Judge Fuente found recently that Freeman did not qualify as an indigent. She had received $74,000 in November from the sale of her Carrollwood house. It was too late in the case, however, to force Freeman to change lawyers, the judge said.
In one final move Friday, Fuente placed a lien on Freeman's assets, saying he would force her to reimburse taxpayers for the public defender's services. Her lawyer estimated the office's staff had spent more than 400 hours on Freeman's case and incurred $25,000 in costs.
Katherine and Grover Cleveland's daughter, now 15, is living with one of Katherine Freeman's friends.
05.18.00, l.r., tampa, fl., On a local radio
station, I heard that Ms. Freeman hit the water "spread eagle" and ripped her
crotch up to her belly button. Also, her anus was split wide open. This is why a
proctologist has been called in to perform surgery. What a way to live through a
"jumping" attempted suicide! (a rather just punishment for
what she did. to think she floated in the water for 40 minutes or so before
being rescued. that had to hurt.)
06.05.00, Mel, St. Louis, MO., What an unfortunate soul Ms. Katherine Freeman was. First murder, then attempted suicide. Her fall and resulting injuries give a whole new meaning to the phrase "taking it up the ass". Hee-hee. I love your site, and I can even spell!
11.05.05, Ian, Hollywood, Florida, Regarding Kathy Freeman who is a jumper on your list, she is doing life in Broward Correctional Inst. I am wondering is there a way to print off your site her information without having to print the entire page, which looks to me many printed pages? (yes, there is a way.)
09.06.06, ex-jail-bird, Wow...I was in prison with Kathie Freeman from 2001 to 2004, she is actively appealing her sentence...she has a real snotty, better-than-thou attitude...oh and she does walk with a very profound limp.... (in this day and age, it would surprise no one if they would let her go. thanks for your input and welcome back to the free world. now behave yourself.)
|05.05.00: article DOT rules out nets or fences for Skyway|
sptimes.com, By MIKE BRASSFIELD, ST. PETERSBURG -- Shortly after taking
office last year, Gov. Jeb Bush prodded the state Department of Transportation
to look into installing fences or safety nets on the Sunshine Skyway bridge to
cut down on suicides.
But the DOT has ruled out both of those options and will try a different strategy: putting more state troopers and security cameras on the bridge.
The agency says fences along the sides of the Skyway would cost millions and could make the bridge less safe in high winds. DOT officials also have doubts about how effective nets below the bridge would be, although not everyone agrees with them.
"We don't know what would happen when somebody fell in the netting," said Marian Pscion, a DOT spokeswoman in Tampa. "Trash could build up there. You could have things trapped in there that could hurt a person. We just don't know."
Instead, the DOT plans to beef up the police presence on the bridge and eventually install new video cameras toward the top. The cameras now on the Skyway "monitor the bridge itself, not people stopping on the bridge," Pscion said.
The cameras to be installed next year would focus on the shoulders where drivers pull over, and would feed live footage to a Florida Highway Patrol station.
"We can have a police officer there in a matter of minutes," Pscion said. Within a couple of months, she said, troopers will patrol the bridge 24 hours a day.
One of the state's most scenic bridges, the Skyway is the third-deadliest bridge in the country for suicides after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and San Diego's Coronado Bridge.
The number of people who jump to their deaths from the Skyway has been rising: six in 1996, eight in 1997, 12 in 1998 and 12 again last year. Two died last month.
Bush learned of the problem when he visited a Hillsborough County crisis center while running for governor in 1998. He got elected and told the DOT to investigate the idea of putting some kind of safety barrier on the bridge.
The DOT asked the Tallahassee engineering firm that designed the Skyway to study whether fences or nets were feasible.
The engineers said a 17-foot-high fence would prevent people from standing on their cars and jumping over. But it would cost nearly $19-million to build such a fence along the sections of Skyway that are at least 65 feet above the water. And a taller, 28-foot fence would cost $50-million.
The top of the bridge is nearly 200 feet up, with only a 31/2-foot concrete wall along the sides.
The top also sways with the wind. Engineers think a fence would affect the bridge's aerodynamics and make it less safe in high winds, although a more detailed study would be needed to know the full effect.
The DOT has rejected hanging safety nets from the bridge. Engineers figure anyone serious about jumping could crawl to the edge of the net and jump again from there, although they would be lower. Also, the DOT says, the nets could collect trash and become unsafe.
"I don't agree with their decision," said Gulfport Mayor Michael Yakes, a retired DOT safety manager whose sister, Linda Blankenship, jumped from the bridge in 1997. "I don't believe DOT is in a position to decide how effective a net would be. There are examples where netting has worked."
At the very least, Yakes said, nets would be a deterrent.
Justin Sayfie, a spokesman for Bush, said the governor had simply wanted the DOT to study its options. He pointed out that six suicide hotline phones put on the bridge last year have had an effect. Several people have used the phones.
"DOT is still looking for other solutions to make the bridge safer," Sayfie said, "doing so in a way that's a prudent use of taxpayer dollars."
|04.20.00: jumper, around 08:30pm, male, no
hotline phones, hit rocks, died
Ryan Gilbert, 19
david z., oldsmar, fl., The jumper's name was Ryan Gilbert 19 of St petersburg fl. He jumped at 8:30pm. The story was in todays metro section of the St. Pete Times.
|Hillsborough Sheriff, Ryan Gilbert, 19, DOB: 1-18-81. On April 20, 2000, Mr. Gilbert drove his vehicle to the southbound center span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, exited the vehicle and jumped off of the bridge. He landed on the rock pilings approximately 200' below and was killed instantly. His body was located at approximately 11:30 p.m. His body was recovered by the St. Petersburg Police Department Marine Unit.|
|05.08.00, jessica, i don't know who this e-mail is going
to, but hopefully its somebody who puts some of this stuff on the website. i
happen to have been looking at skyway bridge websites, when i came across this.
i am unfortunatly upset and crying right about now. one of my friends jumped off
this bridge on april 20, 2000. i hope he helped out some of your guessers, i
know how important winning that pool is. i understand your points about free
speech and america having sick humor, so i suppose we can agree to disagree. i
saw your point of view, now you can read mine. i actually feel sorry for you and
people like you (i.e. your fellow "pool guessers"). i am sorry that you live
your life without feeling compassion for other human beings. it must be a cold,
lonely, insensitive world that you find yourself living in. my friend was a
wonderful person with a sparkling, magnetic personality. sadly, he could no
longer battle with his lifelong diseases. i know it wasn't ryan that made the
decision to jump off that bridge, it was his mental unstability. i know that you
mentioned for friends and family to stay away from this website, and i would
have if i had known. you also talked of your family member commiting suicide,
but did he jump off the skyway? people dropping dead in other countries of
starvaton? your right, thats absolutley devastating, but you didn't make a website about that, so what is the significance of bringing it up? because other
emotionless americans choose to feel more confidant about themselves by judging
others problems, doesn't mean that its ok. why contribute to the negativity of
the world? its so easy for you to sit quietly behind your computer feeling safe
knowing that nobody is making a website about any wrong choices you might have
made. i could go on, but i am already feeling too repetitive. i miss ryan a lot,
but i would never ever change one second of the time we spent together for
anything. the pain that i am going through is worth me having been lucky enough
to know this incredible human being. if you want to write me back, feel free, i
would like to talk to somebody. thank you for taking time to read my thoughts...
(jessica, we are very sorry for your loss. we too had a
similar loss when a first cousin jumped off a bridge into the path of a truck.
our first thought was, "why did this happen to our family?" and "that poor truck
driver, forever to have the vision of my cousin slamming into the front of his
truck". obviously, my cousin needed an out and he took it, much like your friend
did. please notice that we did not make jokes about ryan. we do not go after the
individual jumpers. we just comment on people jumping off the bridge in general
and respond to those that hate on us. jumping to one's death is a very personal
choice. we are not monsters. we love life and we wish everyone could, but it
just doesn't work that way. we all have a path to take and some have seemingly
endless misery along the way and chose to end it before the path has been
completed. we feel bad for them, but we stand behind their right to take their
own life. it's theirs to take and who are we to say no? like it or not, all you
have is your life. you say you would have stayed away from the site, yet you
apparently stayed long enough to read much of it. had you left immediately, you
would not have read things that hurt you so. please hold dear, the
memories you have had with ryan. we're sure he would want you to laugh and cry
at the little things only you and he shared. carry his spirit with you
throughout your life, as apparently he was special to you. try and make him
proud to have been your friend. live your life as if he were depending on you to
live the life he could not. enjoy every minute that he was not able. he will
always be with you in spirit. we are sorry you were hurt reading our site.) jessica responds:
05.09.00, Thank you for responding to my letter, i wasn't expecting you to. I SHOULD HAVE STOPPED READING WHEN I FOUND THE SITE, BUT I JUST COULDN'T. LIFE IS A FUNNY THING... ANYWAYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME! JESSICA (you are welcome, jessica.)
02.04.01, Lindsey G., St. Petersburg, FL., This is by far the sickest thing that I have ever seen. Who ever created this website needs "serious clinical health. In case you dont realize, the people who have decided to end their lives in this way were sick mentally. They were sick people who had families who loved them. It is discusting and sadthat people have to make their lives seem better by making fun of other greivances. One of your "counts" from 2000, was my brother. His life, nor any of the others',was a thing to mock. It is people like you who should not exist in this world or call themselves human beings (we created this site and if you read even a small part of it, you would see we do try and give those that want to jump some help if they want it. however, if they decide to bypass help and jump, for whatever reason, it is their option to remove themselves from whatever pain they are no longer able to endure and neither you nor we can do a damn thing about it. we are then free to express ourselves with this form of humor, as "sick" as you say it is. we are sorry for your brother's loss, but we're sure he feels a lot better about things now then when he was walking the planet. try to put aside your selfish feelings and let him go. obviously, that's what he wanted. he is the cause of all the "mocking". as for wanting our life to end, that just shows you have more need of "serious clinical health" than we do.)
11.02.04, Joy, St. Petersburg, Florida, The kids name was Ryan, I went to highschool with him. I was out of the state at the time living in AZ. But, close friends called me and informed me that at one of the infamous 'Skyway Parties' at that time he had done a whole bunch of "Special K" (Horse tranquilizer) along with several other drugs of choice that evening and had jumped from about the peak of our grand bridge.- Windy night - he jumped and hit the rocks.. what a mess. (if his drug intake was as you state, then it may explain why he jumped off the bridge.)
04.20.05, daniel, california, Its kind of funny how things work out. You guys may think I'm totally nuts but if that guy ryan gilbert hadnt commited suicide I may not be here today. about eight years ago I f**ked around on a ouji board and ryans death was predicted as was mine when ryans came to pass it really opened my eyes and i was able to potentially avoid my demise. anyway just found your website and thought i'd drop a line. believe me or not it really happened and if ryan had been there that night things might be different.
|04.17.00: jumper, around 11:00pm, female, no
hotline phones, hit water, died
Dalana Davis, 40
|thank you, jumpnews reporter:
04.24.00, Brandi, Wichita, Kansas, check today's Tampa bay section of St Petersburg Times. This lady is my best friend's sister-in-law. Unfortunatly, my friend found your website last tuesday, it sure didn't give the family any comfort knowing people bet on this, or knowing the facts about how long it takes. It took them 6 days to find the body. She (ms. davis) had given your website address to her brother just days before jumping and had even taken them across the bridge on their last visit, telling them about the bridge's reputation.
|Hillsborough Sheriff, On Monday night (04.17) at 11:00 p.m., an abandoned vehicle was located on the bridge belonging to a Ms. Dalana Davis of Gulfport, Fl.|
04.20.00, St. Petersburg Times, Family hopes against hope that woman is safe, By MIKE BRASSFIELD
GULFPORT -- Art Davis is going out on a friend's boat today to look for his wife. He'll go below the Sunshine Skyway bridge, throw in a buoy and follow it where the tide takes it.
He doesn't know what else to do. He can't sit at home waiting anymore.
His wife, Dalana Davis, 40, has been missing since Monday. Her Pontiac Grand Prix was found abandoned at the top of the Skyway, its engine running.
Her family holds out hope that she's alive somewhere, but they're also preparing for the worst: that Dalana Davis jumped to her death. She had been having problems. Her husband said she had displayed suicidal tendencies in the past.
And yet, said Art Davis, "There is that hope."
The Florida Highway Patrol found Dalana Davis' car on the bridge about 11:15 p.m. Monday. About a half-hour before that, she told her daughter she was going out for cigarettes. Her husband called her from work earlier, and she sounded all right.
The Highway Patrol, Coast Guard and Hillsborough County deputies and firefighters searched the bridge and water that night but found nothing. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is in charge of the case because the center of the bridge is in Hillsborough.
"Right now, this is still a missing person case," said sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter. "We have no proof that she jumped off."
Dalana Davis is 5 feet 7 and has brown hair. She was last seen wearing brown dungarees and a dark blue pullover New York Yankees shirt.
She has two children, Aaron, 16, and Amber, 14. The family lives in Gulfport.- Staff writers Angela Moore and Leanora Minai contributed to this report.
04.24.00, St. Petersburg Times, Body in bay might be missing woman, By AMY WIMMER
Three fishermen found a woman's body off the Manatee County coast Easter morning, and a Gulfport man is holding out hope that the body is not his wife's.
But the dead woman is white. She has reddish-brown hair. And she was wearing the same type of casual clothes his wife was wearing when last seen Monday morning.
"I'm still holding out hope until somebody definitely does verify that it is her," said Gulfport resident Art Davis, whose wife of 12 years, Dalana Davis, has been missing since Monday. "The thing is, it's not every day that a Caucasian female with reddish-brown hair is found."
An investigator with the medical examiner's office in Sarasota said an autopsy will be performed today, and the office will attempt to identify the body.
The Florida Highway Patrol found Mrs. Davis' car at the top of the Sunshine Skyway on Monday, about 30 minutes after she told her daughter she was going out for cigarettes. The abandoned car's engine was still running.
Art Davis said his wife had displayed suicidal tendencies in the past, but she was terrified of the Skyway. He would tease her while driving over the bridge, urging her to look at the sailboats on the water beneath them.
Mrs. Davis would stare straight forward or close her eyes to avoid looking.
"She was always deathly afraid of that bridge," Davis said Sunday afternoon, shortly after learning about the discovery of the body. He was informed by a victim's advocate assigned to him by the state attorney's office.
Art Davis himself went out on the water Saturday, looking for some sign of his wife without success. Dalana Davis, 40, has two children -- Aaron, 16, who attends Boca Ciega High School, and Amber, 14, who attends Tyrone Middle School. The family lives at 5221 Jersey Ave. S in Gulfport.
The body discovered by the fishermen was found at 10:15 a.m. Sunday in Manatee County, less than 2 miles from the Skyway, near Port Manatee.
"We haven't made any positive ID," said David Winterhalter, an investigator with the medical examiner's office.
05.04.00, Janet, Kansas, The jumper was my niece. I have news
clippings sent to me by relatives. My comment is, I think jumpers are
extremely selfish....she left behind extreme sorrow and devastation.
She's feeling no pain, but everybody else is barely functioning. She
left behind 2 teenage kids. How selfish is THAT? Although I feel sorry
that she was so unhappy, she felt the need to do this, I think suicide
is a very selfish act. It also amazes me that she didn't have the guts
to live, but she had the guts to jump off that bridge. Like Clint
Eastwood said "Dying's easy...it's living that's hard." Anyway, that's
my opinion of suicide and jumping off bridges.
10.22.00, Janet, Kansas, (after she contacted us about the apparent news blackout on bridge jumpers) Dalana Davis, who jumped in April, was my niece. I feel kind of bad, because I think my family probably had a lot to do with the blackout of jumper news. They raised a big stink because Dalana had been looking at your site before she jumped. Let me tell you something about Dalana.... She was the sweetest person you'd ever want to meet, but she had her problems. Her mother abandoned her when she was 5 years old. (My sister was her step-mother.) I believe this was the source of her problems. She'd had a drug & alcohol problem since she was about 16 years old. She also had an ongoing battle with depression. She'd attempted suicide on at least 3 occassions that I know of. Your site in NO WAY gave her the idea to commit suicide. She'd had that idea on her own, several times prior to when she finally succeeded. I believe the only influence your site might have had on her was the method she used to achieve her goal. I really think she just wanted her 15 minutes of fame. My family does not think kindly of my opinion, but you'd have to know them as well. They will blame anyone under the sun for anything, except for the person who is really at fault. In this case, it was Dalana. As I told my sister, nobody looks at that site and thinks, "Hey, that looks like fun, I think I'll try that this weekend." Dalana did that all on her own. Put the blame where the blame is due.
04.16.07, amber, st. pete, fl., That was my mothe who jumped off of that bridge, and i think you are sick and evil for thinking up this website. Im glad to know it gives you hapiness to bet on the pain of others. My mother was a grat woman who was at a very down time in her life and made a mistake. Now im left without a mother and im glad i have all you great people to thank for making this easier, yeah f**k you! And Janet if your reading this no wonder everyone hopes you die you selfish bitch. She wasnt your niece. quit trying to get attention, everyone hates your sorry ass. May evertone who goes on this site gets thearpy and god bless. i hope none of your kids take their lives, or hell maybe i do just so you can get a taste of your own medicine!!! I love you mom!! (sorry for your loss and nasty attitude. we like janet, she was very nice and informative. you should have left an e-mail address, so we could guide you to a separate page dedicated to your mother's jump and discussion about it.)
08.09.07, carrie, wichtia, Dalana was my sister. I agree with her daughter Amber. Janet is an extremely evil and nasty person. The family has not had anything to do with her for over 20 years because of her mean and crazy behavior. She is the definition of mentally ill. For you to say you like her just shows how truly stupid you people are. She is as cold as John Wayne Gacy. She is HER mothers daughter. (sorry you lost your sister. like we said, janet was nice to us, never a harsh word. we can only base our opinion of anyone by how they respond to us. janet may well be "mean, crazy, and the definition of mentally ill", but she was nice and you were not. then again, we are "truly stupid". as usual with skywaybridge.com detractors, carrie left no email address.)
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