Veteran Sarasota deputy arrested for attempted murder of elderly woman

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An 18-year veteran of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office was arrested Monday morning for the attempted murder of an elderly woman.  Deputy Frankie Eugene Bybee, 46, faces felony charges following a criminal investigation into allegations of harassment.

Sheriff Tom Knight said Bybee's actions were first called into question back on December 20, when a 79-year-old woman reported he was harassing her.

According to Knight, Bybee befriended the woman after responding to her home on October 21 for a call. After that, he began making regular visits to her home while both on and off duty. He also introduced her to members of his family.

"He used his children to gain money and trust from her," said Sheriff Knight.

Bybee allegedly took possession of the woman's dog while she was hospitalized, and he received a check for $1,000 from her in case the dog had any medical needs. But investigators say Bybee deposited the money into his account and told detectives he found a new home for the dog on Craigslist. 

The victim told investigators that Bybee only had permission to watch her dog while she was in the hospital, and that he did not have permission to re-home or sell the animal.

Sheriff Knight also said Bybee received multiple checks, totaling $65,000, made out to himself and his children from the elderly victim. But she claims she never wrote or signed any of those checks.

Bybee allegedly mailed the checks to himself at the sheriff's office.  A forensic analysis of the checks showed that the victim's prints were not on any of them. Bybee's prints, however, were found on one.

Bybee was placed on administrative leave while sheriff's office detectives continued to investigate.

SCSO says the investigation revealed that Bybee had initiated the relationship for his own personal and financial gain.

Just three days after the fraudulent checks incident, patrol deputies were called to the victim's home. She reported that Bybee entered the home through an unlocked door, wearing dark clothing and blue latex gloves. The victim told deputies that Bybee held her down and forced prescription pills into her mouth.

The woman lost consciousness, deputies say, and when she awoke, she summoned help.

It was determined that carbon monoxide had filled the home after the internal garage door was left open, and the car was left running.

Sheriff Knight says the investigation revealed that Bybee attempted to kill the victim and make it appear to be suicide.

Bybee was arrested on multiple charges of grand theft, forgery, burglary, battery of a person over 65-years-of-age, and attempted murder.

"Mr. Bybee does and continues to deny the allegations that were made by the government. There was alibi information provided to the sheriff's office in regards to this attempted murder charge, which was disregarded to this case," said his attorney Charles Britt.

A Sarasota County judge set Bybee's bond at $1,033,120.

"The community should know that the actions of Mr. Bybee are in no way reflective of the nearly 1,000 other men and women who serve the public with honor and integrity," said Sheriff Knight. "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."

Because Bybee had been employed at the sheriff's office for more than 18 years, the Sarasota County sheriff asked anyone may have been victimized by Bybee to contact the Criminal Investigations Section at 941.861.4932 or 941.861.4935.

Both the internal affairs and criminal investigations into Bybee's actions continue. 

Bybee has been investigated by Internal Affairs five times during his career for violations of policies. In 2008 Bybee was suspended for not following procedures and two years ago he was suspended for lying to his supervisors. 

"It would be nice to have somebody who wore this uniform for 18 years to be forthright and give us the truth. He's a criminal and he's acting like a criminal," Sheriff Knight added.