Burglary investigation leads to multiple arrests and child abuse charges


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay County Sheriff’s Office has announced the arrest of seven individuals on burglary and child abuse charges.

The Bay County Sheriff’s Office says responded to a burglary at the ‘EZ In Storage’ on Tyndall Parkway on January 14th.

Investigators say they obtained video evidence showing the suspects entering multiple storage units and taking property from inside. During a review of the video, investigators also saw a four-year-old child present during the burglaries.

Benjamin Byrd (Courtesy: Bay County Sheriff’s Office)

On January 15th, investigators identified Benjamin Byrd, Melissa Compton and Ashley Phillips as the suspects in the video. They then learned that Byrd had been arrested that morning in connection to a violation of probation warrant out of Alabama. Compton was quickly located in the 700 block of Harrison Ave.

Melissa Compton (Courtesy: Bay County Sheriff’s Office)

According to investigators, Byrd and Compton confessed to burglarizing the storage units during interviews. Byrd was charged with Burglary, Petit Theft, and Violation of Probation. Compton was charged with Burglary, Petit Theft, Possession of Paraphernalia, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Violation of Probation.

The Sheriff’s Office says they discovered that Ms. Phillips was residing in an abandoned home with no water or power with her four-year-old son. Investigators located the residence but did not locate the Ms. Phillips or the child. The house was in a deplorable condition.

Investigators say Phillips was located and arrested during the night of January 15th, however, her child was not with her. Phillips claimed her son was present with his father, Darius Travis. Travis had active warrants. During an interview with Phillips, she confessed that she and her son had resided in the abandoned home and that she would use methamphetamine on a regular basis while caring for her son, according to deputies.

Investigators began searching for Ms. Phillips’ son in order to make sure he was safe. According to investigators, they located the child and Mr. Travis at a home in Panama City. John Demaline, Sherry Honea, and Tron Triplett were also present in the home. When investigators arrived, Travis was arrested due to his outstanding warrants. While checking on the welfare of the child, investigators say they noticed a syringe laying in plain view on the table next to where the child was sleeping. Upon speaking with Demaline, the current resident, he deputies say admitted to smoking methamphetamine with Triplett and Travis right before investigators arrived. According to authorities, Travis also admitted to smoking methamphetamine with Triplett and Demaline, very close to where the child was sleeping. The apartment was only about 200 square feet in size, and was poorly ventilated.

Sherry Honea (Courtesy: Bay County Sheriff’s Office)

Investigators then say consent was given to to search the apartment for additional contraband. At this time, Sherry Honea was located the bathroom of the apartment. While searching the residence the Sheriff’s Office says many used syringes were located in a bag on the couch, within reach of the child. A second large quantity of syringes were located in the night stand cabinet, next to where the child was sleeping. A burnt glass pipe was located on the floor under the couch. Several syringes, to include some loaded syringes, were located in the bathroom of the residence. The loaded syringes tested positive for methamphetamine.

Travis was arrested on his outstanding warrants and charged with Child Abuse due to smoking methamphetamine with the 4-year-old child present. Triplett, and Demaline were also arrested and charged with Child Abuse. Honea was found to have outstanding warrants, was arrested and also charged with Possession of Paraphernalia.

The Department of Children and Families responded to the scene and took custody of the child.

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