Winter Haven police arrested a woman Tuesday evening after she tried to help a convicted felon hide from police, but her attempts failed when he ultimately fell through the drywall of his hiding spot.
Winter Haven officers were patrolling the area near Abbey Lane Apartments Tuesday evening when they noticed the vehicle of Demario Webster in the complex parking lot. Webster was wanted on three outstanding warrants for violation of probation.
When they witnessed the 32-year-old felon running away from the vehicle, police ordered him to stop. He continued to run behind buildings nearby. While officers were searching for Webster, their K-9 partner alerted them to the rear door of apartment 606 at Evergreen Place SW.
Officers told Chequita Alexander, the 27-year-old tenant, that they were looking for a subject who had outstanding warrants and that their K-9 partner had alerted them to her door. Alexander refused the officers requests to enter the apartment and told them to "come back with a search warrant to enter the apartment."
About the same time, the tenant from apartment 604 told officers that she saw a crack in the drywall above the apartment shower. Shortly after, the resident from apartment 603 shouted: "He's in here!"
“Nobody was in the house when I left,” Sandra Thompson, the tenant in 603 said.
ABC Action News spoke with Thompson as she swept up the remaining debris in her apartment. A mess she says she didn’t make, but that’s what originally tipped her off that someone was in her apartment. Thompson tried to go to the store, but when a neighbor suggested she check her apartment for the fugitive, she went in and there Webster was, standing in her kitchen.
“He is going ‘shhhh’. I’m still hollering and screaming, you have to get out of here,” Thompson said.
Thompson still upset and shaken by the entire ordeal, isn’t sure if she is more mad about the mess or the giant hole Webster left in the ceiling.
“Big, big, hole and all of the pipes and everything were laying down,” she said.
Neighbors, outside weren’t sure what was going on, but describe it as crazy.
“It looked like guerilla warfare. There were cops everywhere,” a next-door neighbor to Thompson said. She wouldn’t give her name, in fear the fugitive and the woman who helped him would harass her.
The neighbor told ABC Action News, she is glad she has a smaller unit, otherwise the fugitive may have ended up in her attic and ultimately, in her home.
“You came from way down there, and you ended up on the end, if he could have kept going he would’ve ended up in my unit,” she added.
But Thompson, showed more courage than Webster, forcing the man to give himself up.
“I said you get out of here. So, he threw his hands up, he walked out of the door he walked outside and threw up his hands,” Thompason showed us how he walked out of the door, surrendering.
According to the police report, Webster entered Alexander's apartment and told her that officers were after him. She was aware he was trying to hide from police but continued to tell officers he wasn't in her apartment.
Webster reportedly entered the attic space in Alexander's apartment above rooms 605, 604 and 603 where he fell through the drywall above the shower in the the bathroom.
Webster was later charged with one count of resisting arrest without violence and three count of occupied burglary of a dwelling.
Alexander was also charged with one count of resisting an officer without violence and one count of accessory after the fact.
Both Alexander and Webster were booked into Polk County Jail.