News

2 arrested for alleged sexual battery of children


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Two suspects were arrested on capital sexual battery charges on Tuesday afternoon after a search warrant was served at a property on Pacetti Road.

William Clarence Dillow, 27, and Rhonda Lynn Wilkerson, 49, were taken into custody and booked into the St. Johns County Jail after the warrant was served at Dillow's home, according to a release from St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Media Relations Officer Kevin Kelshaw.

Staff members at a Flagler County school got reports from several children about alleged abuse by Dillow and Wilkerson. The children, who were under the age of 12 at the time the abuse took place, were interviewed by SJSO Special Victims' Unit detectives and Child Protection Team members.

Wilkerson and Dillow are being held without bond and will have their first appearances Wednesday morning.

Grandmother charged with child abuse in St. Augustine


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A grandmother is facing a charge of child abuse after the St. Augustine Police Department said a grandchild left in her care had purple bruising up and down her back.

Authorities said the child was at Webster Elementary School and was acting withdrawn and quiet. When staff asked the child was was wrong, the child said her back hurt. Police report that while the child was in the nurses clinic, a staff member saw 4 inch by 2 inch bruising on the child's back.

Authorities said the child told the staff member at the school that her grandmother, Debra O'Sickey, had hit her with a belt that morning.

Debra O'Sickey was arrested and placed under a $10,000 bond.


Noche de Gala: A grand celebration in St. Augustine


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- St. Augustine threw a big birthday party this weekend, celebrating the city's founder, Pedro Menendez and Spanish history.

The Noche de Gala was Saturday night. It started with a grand procession from the Casa Monica Hotel to the Lightner Museum.

The event celebrates what would have been the 495th birthday of Menendez as well as the relationship between St. Augustine and Aviles, Spain, the city of Menendez birth.

Aviles, Spain and St. Augustine are sister cities.

The Noche de Gala is one of the premier events in St. Augustine. Dignitaries from Spain were in attendance.
Many people dressed in colonial formal attire.
First coast News' Jessica Clark attended the event.

Police investigating fatal crash on U.S. 1


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A deadly crash closed a portion of U.S. 1 early Friday morning.

A car struck a power pole on U.S. 1 near King Street, knocking it over and into the roadway, according to Sergeant Brian Frasca with the St. Augustine Police Department. The crash occurred shortly before 3 a.m. according to the Florida Power and Light website, leaving about 80 customers without power. The car drove off after striking the pole.

A short time later a motorcyclist ran into the pole, crashed and landed in the roadway, Frasca detailed. Another car struck the motorcyclist and also drove off.

Police are trying to notify the motorcyclist's next of kin and will release more details on the crash later today.

Anyone who has any information about the crash or either driver involved is asked to contact the St. Augustine Police Department at 904-825-1070.


Historic building may see restoration project


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A historic building on the First Coast was just placed on the National Registry of Historic Places this week, and that means it may be one big step closer to getting much needed repairs.

The old water works building in St. Augustine sits empty on San Marco Avenue.

The City of St. Augustine owns it.

Mindy Pennett works across the street from the brick building, and has seen it decline.

"It's been empty for a long time and it looks kind of run down," Pennett said.

Fire alarm prompts brief Barnes & Noble Booksellers evacuation


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A St. Augustine bookstore was evacuated Wednesday morning.

The Barnes & Noble Booksellers at 1930 U.S. 1 South was evacuated for a brief time Wednesday morning after customers noticed an electrical smell and the building's fire alarm went off.

Firefighters from St. Johns County Fire Rescue and and the St. Augustine Fire Department quickly traced the problem to a rooftop air conditioning unit, which was disabled.

Employees and customers were allowed back in the store a short time later.

No injuries were reported and damage was limited to the AC unit.


St. Augustine community discusses how to fix traffic and parking woes


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Complaints of too much traffic and difficulties finding a parking space can often be heard in downtown St. Augustine. City leaders and community members are discussing ways to improve the parking situation.

"There was a lot of traffic when I pulled into town," said Phil Abrecht, visiting from Atlanta, Georgia.

Obrecht said he pulled into the first parking lot he found and asked the lady where it might be cheaper, but then he went ahead and paid the $10. "I didn't have the patience to wander around, and drive around, to find a cheaper deal."

At a meeting of city leaders, government officials, business owners and residents, all agreed traffic congestion and the lack of parking was a problem and it was getting worse.