Former sheriff’s deputy arrested in July in bizarre stalking case is re-arrested on sinister charges

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Dedorius Latrell Varnes is the 28-year-old former Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was arrested in July, while still in uniform, on a charge of aggravated stalking in what was one of the bizarre cases the sheriff’s detectives dealt with: he allegedly made 53 phone calls of intimidation, threat and racism to a 67-year-old man for no apparent reason other than because he thought it was funny. Varnes’ only previous interaction with the man had been fortuitous. He had been very partially involved in the investigation of the man’s complaint in an unrelated incident involving the man’s neighbor.

Sheriff Rick Staly called Varnes’ phone calls “atrocious” and suspended him without pay, pending a criminal and internal investigation into the case. Both investigations are ongoing.

Varnes had been in the sheriff’s office for two and a half years when he was charged with criminal harassment, a third degree felony, and making harassing phone calls a misdemeanor. He resigned on August 4.

On Thursday, he was arrested on an identical felony charge stemming from an equally bizarre case while he was still an MP.

On November 27, someone hit the mailbox of a house on Point Pleasant Drive, off Belle Terre Parkway in the Palm Coast. The owner called the police. Varnes responded, but told the owner it was a civil matter, meaning she would have to resolve it on her own. He did not turn on his body camera. The woman’s husband lodged a complaint with the sheriff’s office through the agency’s website, saying he did not believe Varnes had handled the call properly. When Varnes supervisor Greg Tietje was made aware, he asked Varnes to go home and rectify the problem.

Varnes again did not activate his body camera, but according to the investigation, Varnes blamed the owner for complaining. (The investigation clears the name of the alleged victim according to Marcy’s law. For clarity, he will be called “John,” which is not his real name.) John hung up on him.

Things then started to get weird for John. He started receiving sinister texts from an unknown number. The texter called John names, claimed he had slept with John’s wife and would do it again, adding personal details about his wife and personal address and again referring to John in a humiliating and sexually humiliating while posing as a desirable man. . At one point during these texts, John retaliated with a despicable racist insult, though he had no idea the sender’s race.

A day later, the texts got more intimidating: the sender sent a picture of John’s house with the words, “I know. The image was taken only 30 or 40 meters away.

“You are always going to cut my throat ????” the sender asked John in a text. John replied, “Yes … come back.” The shipper continued to taunt him with slurs, challenges, and slurs, ending with “Sleep with 1 eye open bitch”.

After receiving this text, John looked at the footage from his own surveillance camera and noticed that a law enforcement patrol car was passing near his house twice at around the same time when the image was on him. had been sent. John told the sender he had it on camera. “Lol, I just came back, I’ll see you later,” the sender wrote.

By this time John had deduced from him that the driver of the patrol car was Varnes and the sender was Varnes. He addressed himself to himself, telling him that he knew who he was, and that he had sent the information to several people in case something happened to him. He also told Varnes he knew patrol vehicles are equipped with GPS trackers, which accurately track a vehicle’s movements.

Varnes then tells him that John pouted at him, but adds that he (Varnes) will now “file a complaint today for threats and hate crime for your racial insults”. Varnes then takes the taunt in a different direction, threatening to “expose” his racist texts with a photo of John attached.

It was the end of the text exchange. John was afraid to contact the sheriff’s office again because “the filing of his initial complaint against Dedorius Varnes was the source of the threats and harassment,” said the detective’s investigation report.

It is not clear from the report how the sheriff’s office determined that an incident involving Varnes had unfolded. But by investigating the first case, they discovered that Varnes was using a “text now” phone, which masks the user’s identity.

In early July, a detective was assigned the new case and opened the investigation, securing an interview with John on July 3. John produced the texts and video footage for the patrol car. GPS data and the Varnes schedule and assigned sectors were analyzed. The data showed that Varnes’ patrol car drove past John’s house, turned around, and left on the evening of the incendiary texts. He was out of his assigned area. Dispatching said it had not received any service or emergency calls outside its area.

To link the “Text Now” phone to Varnes, detectives spoke to occasional girlfriends from Varnes in Palatka and St Augustine who described his bizarre use of multiple cell phones and confirmed that they had received text messages from this particular. cellphone.

Varnes himself, who submitted to an interview with detectives, made a strange statement: that sometimes while he was working in his patrol car he would fall asleep and “people could pick up his phone or driving his patrol vehicle ”.

“All the evidence gathered during this investigation indicates that the only motive Dedorius Varnes had for texting [John] was retaliation for the complaint filed by [John] with Flagler County Sheriff’s Office ”in November 2019.

The detective’s investigation revealed probable cause to charge Varnes with threats and extortion, and forgery or harassment of a victim, both second degree felonies, criminal use of a public record and providing false information, and aggravated stalking, both third degree crimes. He was actually charged with aggravated stalking.

“This is an example of a dishonest officer tarnishing the badge,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in a statement this afternoon. “This kind of
behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated and to see that he has done it on more than one occasion is appalling. It is embarrassing for the profession of law enforcement and deserves to go to jail. We are doing everything we can to get the state to revoke its law enforcement certificate. “

Varnes was booked into the county jail on a $ 25,000 bond, which he quickly released. He was released. He is represented in both cases by Michael Lambert, the Daytona Beach attorney, who had yet to see the new charges when contacted by FlaglerLive today.

“We will look at the facts under oath via depositions and see where that leaves us,” Lambert said in an email. “This is at a later date and time. His arrest is how the process begins. Time and discovery can correct mistakes on both sides. “

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