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The Villages
Saturday, February 4, 2023

Detectives honored for solving cases of purse snatching, death of child

Stewart "Butch" Perdue, Ronald Michaud, Chief Chris McKinstry and Mayor Ruth Kussard, from left.
Stewart “Butch” Perdue, Ronald Michaud, Chief Chris McKinstry and Mayor Ruth Kussard, from left.

Two Lady Lake police detectives were recently honored with  “Officer of the Year” awards by American Legion Post 347.

Detectives Stewart “Butch” Perdue and Ronald Michaud were honored in connection with their work in the investigation of the death of a child and in the brutal TJ Maxx purse snatching.

Detectives investigate the death of a little girl

In July 2013, a 3-year-old child residing in Lady Lake was transported to Leesburg Regional Medical Center where she was discovered to have life-threatening injuries to her head and various injuries to the abdomen. The child was transported to Arnold Palmer Hospital where the detectives learned that the child was brain dead; she was later removed from life support and passed away.

Their investigation revealed that, in addition to a pattern of abuse, the fatal blunt force trauma inflicted on this little 3-year-old girl, originally reported as a seizure, had been inflicted several days prior.  No medical attention was sought and her injuries remained untreated.

After an intensive investigation lasting in excess of three months, the two detectives obtained sufficient probable cause for the arrest of the child’s mother and her live-in boyfriend.  Each was charged with manslaughter. They remain in jail today awaiting trial.

Investigation of TJ Maxx purse snatching

In January, a suspect approached a senior citizen in the parking lot of the Rolling Acres Shopping Center as she was attempting to gain entry to her vehicle. This male perpetrator grabbed the woman and forcibly threw her to the ground while wrestling her purse from her arm.  The victim sustained serious injuries requiring lengthy hospitalization and long-term rehabilitation.

The resulting follow-up investigation conducted by Detectives Perdue and Michaud took two and a half months to complete and resulted in warrants being obtained for the suspect who committed this robbery and his female accomplice.

Once confronted by these detectives, one of the suspects confessed to this incident, as well as several similar crimes in Polk and Orange counties.  Acting on this investigative team’s information, these other jurisdictions were able to file criminal charges against these two defendants and bring some closure to their victims.

“These two detectives exemplify what can be accomplished where unrelenting follow-up and dogged determination meet the criminal element.  They have the gained respect of not only the members of our agency, but the entire law enforcement and criminal justice community,” said Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry.

“And in their spare time, when these detectives are not out solving our most serious of crimes, they volunteer to participate in many of our community events such as National Night Out and our Shred-a-Thon in the hopes of promoting safety and security to the people we serve,” the chief added.

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