ST. AUGUSTINE — Human remains found in north Florida have been positively identified as a woman who went missing in July.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday that the body found last week matched the dental records of 45-year-old Brittany Tavar. An autopsy found the cause of death to be blunt-force trauma.
Tavar was last seen July 6, leaving a party with 26-year-old Joseph Dean Roberts. Her dogs were found abandoned July 10 in South Carolina. Roberts was pulled over in Wyoming July 11 for speeding in Tavar’s vehicle and later spotted Oregon, buying a tent.
Roberts was reportedly picked up for shoplifting in Seattle last Tuesday. He was transferred to Florida after officers found he was wanted on a car theft charge from St. Johns County. He was being held on $500,000 bail.
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State challenges Casey Anthony defense budget
ORLANDO — The state agency funding Casey Anthony’s criminal defense has challenged recent cost requests.
Her attorneys, Jose Baez and Ann E. Finnell, have filed a motion to set a budget for the penalty phase of the case. The Justice Administrative Commission recently filed a 9-page response, challenging items like travel and lodging costs for Finnell. The JAC also challenged various rates and questioned the need for a private investigator or psychiatrist.
Anthony is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The 24-year-old woman has pleaded not guilty and said a baby sitter kidnapped the child.
The toddler’s remains were found in December 2008. Anthony’s trial is scheduled to start next May.
Witness: Signatures were faked at foreclosure firm
ORLANDO — A former secretary at a Florida law firm under investigation for fabricating foreclosure documents says the firm’s office manager would sign her name to 1,000 files a day and sometimes would allow paralegals to sign her name for her when she got tired.
Kelly Scott, a former assistant at the law offices of David Stern, says in a deposition released Monday that office manager Cheryl Salmons would sign 500 files in the morning and another 500 files in the afternoon with out reviewing them and with no witnesses.
Scott says paralegals would then collect the files and swap them with each other, signing them as witnesses even though they had already been notarized and executed.
Panama City Beach begins process for new park
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Panama City Beach is in the process of getting a new wilderness park.
The city council is annexing about 700 acres from the Northwest Florida Water Management District for the project.
That land will join about 3,000 other acres purchased by the city from a private owner in 2004.
The park plans include 22 miles of unpaved nature trails and boardwalks for hiking, biking and bird-watching, a large picnic pavilion and an outdoor amphitheater for wildlife lectures.
UF gets $2 million donation for new professorship
GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida will get a new professorship thanks to an endowment by a UF trustee and his wife.
The university said on Monday that Dr. Steven and Rebecca Scott are donating $2 million to endow a professorship in the chemistry department.
The position will work to advance chemistry research to support the health care industry.
Barracuda jumps into kayak, bites woman in Fla.
KEY WEST — A woman is hospitalized after being bitten in the chest by a barracuda while kayaking in the Florida Keys.
The Coast Guard says the 45-year-old woman and a male companion were kayaking Sunday evening near Big Pine Key when the fish jumped into the vessel and bit her.
The man told emergency dispatchers that he could not row the two-person kayak to shore without causing further harm to the woman.
The Coast Guard says paramedics administered first aid to the woman, who appeared to have suffered a possible punctured lung and broken ribs.
Haiti-bound supplies lost as cargo ship sinks
KEY WEST — A Canadian missionary says a cargo ship that sank in the Bahamas was loaded with medical supplies and relief aid for a Haitian mountain village.
The Mystic capsized and broke into pieces in rough seas Oct. 7 in the Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 10 crew members and a dog who abandoned ship in two lifeboats.
Keith Toews of Ontario tells The Key West Citizen that he and his family had planned to open a medical clinic in Oriani, Haiti. He says $21,000 in medical supplies and a sport utility vehicle collected for the clinic were aboard the Mystic when it sank.
Toews says the SUV would have doubled as an ambulance.
Fla. girl who fell from Milwaukee ride to go home
PARKLAND — The 13-year-old Florida girl who fell about 100 feet to the ground from an amusement park ride in Wisconsin is finally going home after nearly three months of hospital care.
Teagan Marti told The Miami Herald she misses her pets and looks forward to returning to her Parkland home on Monday. Marti still can’t walk. She’s using a motorized wheelchair.
Her lawyer said he had reached a settlement with Extreme World in Wisconsin Dells but he couldn’t release any details.
The Wisconsin Department of Commerce has said the operator of Terminal Velocity did not follow protocol when Marti fell July 30.
— Herald wire reports