State Attorney Brian Haas started a new tradition at the State Attorney’s Office yesterday. At our annual awards ceremony, some special law enforcement officers were recognized who – in the past year – have gone above and beyond the call of duty to serve our community.
“We are blessed in the tenth circuit to have many wonderful officers and deputies. Each day and night they put on their uniforms to protect us, not knowing if they’ll ever return home,” State Attorney Haas said. “They investigate cases and do not give up until every lead is pursued and every angle is worked.”
Winter Haven Police Department Detectives Garrett Boyd and Nicholas Gregory were honored for their work on the Perry Lee Chance case.
When Perry Lee Chance walked into the Winter Haven clothing store where 82-year-old Carol Sleeth was working, Sleeth had no way of knowing the same man would return four days later, rob her and beat her.
Surveillance video shows Chance walking into the store Sept. 16, 2014, where he took money out of the register and beat the victim with his fists. Chance tied her up, gagged her and left her in the store while he stole her keys out of her purse and drove off in her car.
Sleeth called police after she broke free from her bonds and removed the gag from her mouth. She told law enforcement Chance kept “beating and beating” her and that she was “bleeding all over.”
The victim identified Chance as her attacker shortly after the incident. She had a stroke about a year later, which led to her death.
Winter Haven Police Detectives Garrett Boyd and Nicholas Gregory were assigned the case.
Assistant State Attorney Steve Alamia said that a lot of investigative work went into this case.
Boyd and Gregory tracked Chance’s cell phone and located him driving up Interstate-75 in the victim’s vehicle. They plotted it the entire way and found that Chance was up in St. Johns County.
Alamia said Boyd and Gregory went to arrest Chance themselves. When they stopped the car Chance was driving, they found the phone they’d been tracking, the backpack Chance wore in the surveillance video and – laid out on the seat – the shirt and shorts that he was wearing.
But one of the most significant pieces of evidence was that Chance’s cell phone pinged within a mile of the store at the time of the crime. In addition to the phone evidence, Boyd and Gregory compiled surveillance footage of Chance from surrounding areas, leaving no doubt Chance was the one who committed the crime.
Boyd and Gregory were actively involved with the investigation from start to finish, including helping rebuild the case when the victim died.
Chance was found guilty of burglary with an assault, robbery, kidnapping to facilitate a felony, aggravated battery and burglary. He was sentenced to life.
In addition to the time spent working with Alamia, he said, Boyd had a lot of interaction with the victim’s son.
“The victim’s son spoke very highly of Boyd. After we got the conviction, he went to talk to Boyd and thank him. They had a personal connection beyond the fact that he investigated the case,” Alamia said, adding that it was another way Boyd showed his dedication to the case.
“The two detectives went above and beyond the call of duty in assembling the evidence in this case and ensuring the conviction in trial,” Haas said. “They even drove up to St. Johns County, where they arrested the defendant and recovered key evidence in the case.”