Escambia Names Top 5 Teacher of the Year Finalists

December 6, 2023

Escambia County Public Schools has announced the Top 5 Teachers of the Year nominees. Nominated teachers will compete for selection as the school district’s overall Teacher of the Year.

In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Candice Blackburn — Molino Park Elementary
  • Priteyja Olige Brannon — C. A. Weis Elementary
  • Tammy Jo Dublin — Hope Horizon
  • Cassi McGee — Pine Meadow Elementary
  • Rionna Wages — Lipscomb Elementary

“We are proud to honor these outstanding educators,” stated Superintendent Keith Leonard.  “They are a great representation of all of our employees, and we would like to take time to thank them, as well as all of our employees, for all of the hard work and dedication they contribute to our students each and every day.”

The overall Teacher of the Year for Escambia County Public Schools will be announced in early February, and honored, along with all district teachers of the year, at a special event.

Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy Holds First Graduation

December 6, 2023

This week marked a historic first for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office as 19 recruits took the oath of office and became Sheriff’s deputies during the graduation ceremony for the very first Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy. The ceremony was marked by a badge pinning from a family member/friend, followed by the oath of office.

In February of 2023, the ECSO became one of only six law enforcement agencies in the state to gain commission approval to operate their own law enforcement academy. In June of 2023, the first class officially began. These 19 deputies engaged in state-of-the-art coursework, physical training, firearms training, and other aspects of professional law enforcement. The academy immerses recruits in our culture, standards, and policies from day one. These 19 deputies will continue their training when assigned to field training over the next few weeks. The next academy class is set to begin in January of 2024.

The new recruits are:

  • Deputy Peter Baird
  • Deputy Brady Barnes
  • Deputy Adam Burns
  • Deputy Jonathon Burton
  • Deputy Hudson Callaway
  • Deputy Don Campbell
  • Deputy Tyler Daigle
  • Deputy Anthony Davis
  • Deputy Nayanna Fichtner
  • Deputy Mario Garcia-Saldivar
  • Deputy Jordan Hammock
  • Deputy Aidan Hemmert
  • Deputy James Karels
  • Deputy Garrett McClelland
  • Deputy John Nemergut
  • Deputy Hunter NeSmith
  • Deputy April Reynolds
  • Deputy Robert Rhodes
  • Deputy Shanna Secchiari

Man Gets Life Plus 30 Years in Walnut Hill Murder, Attempted Murder

December 5, 2023

A 2018 Walnut Hill double shooting murder suspect has been serntenced to life plus 30 years in prison.

Christopher Alan Stacey was convicted in Septemberf of  lesser charges of second degree murder and attempted second degree murder. He was originally indicted for first degree premeditated murder and attempted first degree premeditated murder. He faced a minimum of 25 years to a maximum of life in prison when he is sentenced in January.

After his arrest, Stacey claimed the shootings were self defense. Court motions and denied appeals from the Florida First District Court of Appeals delayed the trial, but all of Stacey’s self defense motions were eventually denied.

In June 2018, Dalton Davis was found dead in a truck in Brushy Creek on Deere Creek Road near Atmore. Troy Dewayne Boutwell was found in critical condition near the road after crawling from the truck but survived his injuries. They were shot nine miles away at a home on Highway 164 near Walnut Hill (pictured bottom), according to investigators.

His ex-wife, Jessica Nicole Thomas, was charged with accessory after the fact to first degree premeditated murder and accessory after the fact to attempted first degree premeditated murder for the shooting at her home on Highway 164. Stacey’s son, Christopher James Logan Stacey, and Alexis Ileene Shiffner Cain were also both charged with accessory after the fact to first degree premeditated murder and accessory after the fact to attempted first degree premeditated murder.

Thomas and Shiffner Cain pleaded guilty while Christopher James Logan Stacey pleaded no contest in 2019. All three are awaiting sentencing and face up to 30 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set.

Alabama detectives learned that Boutwell had been at his friend’s house in the 5900 block of Highway 164, just east of Highway 97 in Walnut Hill. Deputies responded to find the suspects in the home.

An Escambia County, FL, investigator was contacted by Atmore Police to relay information on the shooting location. He instructed deputies to respond to the home where they found a couch burning in the backyard (photo below). Deputies extinguished the fire. Victim Boutwell later said he was shot on the couch in the living room of the home, which is about nine miles from where the men were found with the truck.

According to the report, an AR-15 was found in one of the bedrooms and a 12 gauge shotgun was found in another bedroom. The report does not specify if either was the murder weapon. A bullet hole was found in an interior wall.

Christopher Alan Stacey was seated on a bucket across the road from the residence watching as investigators processed the crime scene, while his son sat  ina wooden chair in front of a neighboring home (both pictured below). Cain and Jessica Thomas were placed in the back of ECSO patrol vehicles as investigators worked.

Florida investigators also responded to the truck at Brushy Creek on Deere Creek Road in Alabama to process that crime scene with Alabama agencies.  The straight-line location of the truck was about 1,000 feet north of the Alabama-Florida State line.

Christopher Alan Stacey, resides with Thomas at the home on Highway 164. Boutwell told law enforcement that he was shot because of an argument with her ex-husband. The son, Christopher James Logan Stacey, also resides in the home, the report states.

Boutwell, the victim that survived the July 2018 shooting, was killed in a single vehicle wreck on March 13, 2021, on Highway 4A about three miles west of Century. He was pronounced deceased at the scene; there were no passengers in the vehicle. [Read more...]

Pictured below: Christopher Alan Stacey was seated on a bucket across the road from the residence watching as investigators processed the crime scene, while his son James Logan Stacey sat on a wooden chair in front of a neighboring home. Pictured middle below: A deputy questions Jessica Thomas as she sits inside a patrol vehicle in Walnut Hill. Pictured bottom: Investigators say two men were shot inside this home on Highway 164 in Walnut Hill. exclusive photos, click to enlarge.