Florida in brief

Briefs and news of note

By Times Staff
Published July 26, 2006

Bodies found at bloody crime scene are mother, daughter

LEHIGH ACRES - A mother and daughter were identified Tuesday, a day after they were discovered dead in a bloody southwest Florida home and a dehydrated toddler was in a high chair outside. Lorena Stone, 49, and Whitney Mendez, 19, were found in their home Monday afternoon. The cause of their deaths is not being released. But Lee County sheriff's spokeswoman Illena Foell said the deaths were suspicious and the crime scene inside the house was extensive. Authorities declined to release the name of the toddler, who was found by a relative, treated for dehydration and taken to a safe location, Foell said.

32 animals dead, 25 near death discovered at Panhandle farm

HOLT - A animal rescue group is caring for 25 dogs, cats and various farm animals after investigators discovered dozens of dead and abused animals at an area farm. Animal control officers and sheriff's deputies responding to an odor complaint found the animals last week. Authorities are waiting for a judge to approve a warrant to arrest the property owner for animal abuse, said Michelle Nicholson, a spokeswoman for the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office. "These animals had absolutely no way of escaping," Dee Thompson-Poirrier of the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society told the Northwest Florida Daily News. In addition to the 32 dead animals, another 25 were near death, she said. Some hogs and chickens were trapped in pens with decaying animals. None had food or water, she said.

School district reprimands three for exchanging suggestive e-mails

FORT MYERS - Three Lee County school district employees were reprimanded for exchanging sexually suggestive e-mails over school networks. The issue came to light in March after superintendent James Browder got a letter signed by "some concerned parents." The investigation concluded in late May, just before the school year ended, the News-Press of Fort Myers reported Tuesday. Reprimanded were John G. Hyler, a Junior ROTC instructor at Ida S. Baker High School in Cape Coral; Julee Duttko, assistant principal for curriculum at Varsity Lakes Middle School in Lehigh Acres; and Kimberlee Zager, an eighth-grade math teacher at Varsity Lakes. In an e-mail released, the women talked about engaging in activity that Hyler planned to tape.