Crime

Deputy tried to kill elderly woman after putting her dog on Craigslist, sheriff says

hemorse@bradenton.com

Frankie Bybee in a picture with the victim’s dog.
Frankie Bybee in a picture with the victim’s dog.

A Florida deputy is accused of bilking an elderly woman and then trying to kill her by sneaking into her home and trying to stuff sleeping pills down her throat.

The 18-year employee of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office was arrested Monday on multiple felony charges, including attempted murder.

Here’s what led to the arrest:

A 79-year-old Sarasota woman said that Deputy Frankie Eugene Bybee, 46, befriended her when he responded to a service call on Oct. 21, Sheriff Thomas Knight said at a news conference.

Over his 18-year tenure, Bybee had been a detective and was a patrol deputy at the time. Bybee made regular visits to the woman’s home when he was working as well as off his shift, according to Knight.

But then things changed.

While the woman was hospitalized, Bybee took the woman’s dog and a check for more than $1,000 in case the dog needed care. Knight said Bybee deposited the check and “rehomed” the dog on Craigslist.

On Jan. 9, four checks from the woman in an envelope addressed to Bybee were written out to him and his three children for a total of $65,000. When the sheriff’s office found his fingerprint on the checks after the victim said she didn’t fill them out, Bybee was placed on administrative leave.

Three days later, according to the probable cause affidavit, the woman, who was not identified, was sitting in her living room when she said Bybee broke into her house wearing dark clothes and blue latex gloves. He was “agitated and angry” that her complaint put him on administrative leave.

According to the affidavit, Bybee grabbed the woman’s face, forced an unknown pill in her mouth and tried to force her prescription sleeping pills down her throat.

The woman passed out and woke up to find her garage door open and her car engine running.

“Our investigation revealed that Bybee attempted to kill the victim and make it appear to be a suicide,” Knight said.

Knight said the sheriff’s office initiated the paperwork for his termination.

Bybee faces charges of larceny, exploitation of the elderly of $50,000 or more, forgery, burglary of an occupied dwelling, battery on a person 65 or older and attempted murder.

According to records provided to the Bradenton Herald by a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, Bybee has been the subject of five previous internal investigations, though only two resulted in disciplinary action. He was reprimanded and suspended for a week following a 2008 internal affairs investigation and then again in 2014, this time for seven days.

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