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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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$13,000 was there only for a minute
A thief took it from a woman right outside a Bank of America.
By AMBER MOBLEY, Times Staff Writer
Published November 20, 2007
TAMPA - Until Monday afternoon, Joanne Gavlick had never held $13,000 cash in her hands. The thrill didn't last long.
Minutes after cashing a pension check at one bank, just feet away from a secondbank where she planned to deposit it, Gavlick lost her money to a robber, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.
"I fought. Yes I did. Who knows if he was armed?" Gavlick, 54, said Monday night. "But then the Lord told me, 'Just let go.'"
She fell to the ground in the parking lot of the Bank of America at 14002 N Dale Mabry Highway. The thief fled, racing east across the road.
Soon after, a Sheriff's Office helicopter in the area for another robbery touched down on Dale Mabry Highway near the Bank of America to help search for the man who took Gavlick's cash.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said investigators confirmed that Gavlick had cashed a check for $13,000 and they believe her story about the robbery. She described the robber as a white male in his 30s, about 6 feet to 6 feet 3, with a medium build and short light brown hair. He wore shorts and a short-sleeve, plaid shirt.
"Everything was perfect," Gavlick said, "and in a New York second it was taken. It made no sense to me."
Gavlick said she wanted to avoid a bank hold on the out-of-state check, so she cashed it at Wachovia and headed to Bank of America, where she has an account.
She planned a trip to the beach this weekend. The money was supposed to pay for that and also help her move into a condo in Mango, where she hoped, she said, to "hear the voice of the Lord" as she sets off to write a book.
She already has a title: "I Got Back Up."
She wants to write about her experiences as a volunteer minister at the Hillsborough County jail and her own struggles with drug abuse. She said she was once addicted to prescription drugs and crack cocaine but has been clean for more than two years.
Gavlick gave up her rented room in a house in Carrollwood. She said it's already been promised to someone else.
"I don't know what to do," she said. "I've got to be out of here Saturday morning."
Gavlick said she knows God must have a better plan for her. He's brought her this far.
Now she's thinking about the robber. She thinks God can turn his life around too.
"I've purposed in my heart to forgive that man. I've already lifted him to the Lord," said Gavlick. "I hope to see him face to face and lead him to the Lord."
News researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Amber Mobley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 813 269-5311.