A Florida sheriff’s deputy was arrested this week in connection with a series of bizarre crimes involving an elderly woman, whom he allegedly forced to ingest medication and whose dog he allegedly gave away on Craigslist.
Frankie Eugene Bybee, an 18-year veteran of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested Monday for a host of alleged crimes, including grand theft and attempted murder. The 46-year-old is being held at the county jail on bonds totaling over $1 million.
“His actions are a disgrace, not only to our agency but to law enforcement professionals everywhere,” Sarasota County Sheriff Thomas Knight said at a Monday press conference.
According to the sheriff’s office, the investigation into Bybee began last month, when a 79-year-old woman complained that he was harassing her.
The woman told police she met Bybee in October 2016, when he responded to a call for assistance at her residence and helped transport her to a local hospital. Bybee then allegedly began visiting the woman while on and off duty, and introduced her to several members of his family, authorities said.
A friendship quickly developed and Bybee allegedly agreed to temporarily care for the woman’s dog, a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier named J.J. The woman told authorities she wrote Bybee a check for $1,000 that was intended to cover grooming and veterinarian fees.
When the woman was released from the hospital, Bybee allegedly refused to return her dog.
Interviewed by detectives, Bybee acknowledged taking possession of the dog and said he’d placed an ad on Craigslist and “rehomed” it, according to authorities.
On Jan. 9, investigators allegedly discovered four checks in the woman’s name made out to Bybee and his three children, totaling $65,000. The woman denied writing the checks, and a forensic analysis of the documents allegedly revealed the presence of Bybee’s fingerprints.
The deputy was placed on administrative leave as authorities continued their investigation.
Three days later, on Jan. 12, the woman contacted the sheriff’s office, claiming that Bybee had entered her home wearing dark clothing and blue latex gloves and tried to kill her.
“Bybee mounted the victim and, while holding her down, forced prescription medication in her mouth,” Knight said.
The woman said she lost consciousness during the attack and when she awoke, she discovered the inside door to her garage was open and her vehicle was running, filling her home with carbon monoxide fumes.
Knight said investigators believe Bybee left the vehicle running in an attempt to “kill the victim and make it appear to be a suicide.”
The woman sustained lacerations and abrasions to her face and bruising to her body, according the sheriff’s office.
“She said the man tried to kill her,” the woman’s neighbor, Chalyce Sullivan, told Tampa’s WTSP News. “She’s a nice person [and] doesn’t deserve that.”
Authorities say they’ve since located the woman’s dog and reunited her with it.
Bybee denied the allegations during a Monday court appearance and claimed to have an alibi for the time of the alleged assault. He is expected to make another court appearance in the coming weeks.
Knight said he was disappointed to learn that a deputy had been charged.
“It is beyond unacceptable that an individual who works in a position of trust and guardianship to their community is capable of such heinous crimes,” the chief said Monday.
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Bybee has been investigated by the sheriff’s office five times since he was hired in 1998. Prior to this latest case, the most recent instance was in 2015, when Bybee was accused of making a false statement to his supervisors. He was found guilty of that charge and demoted from the detective bureau to the patrol division.
Because Bybee has been employed at the sheriff’s office for nearly 20 years, authorities are asking anyone who may have been victimized by Bybee to contact the Criminal Investigations Section at 941-861-4932.