Winter Haven Police Department Press Release
Following A Tip To Locate Convicted Felon Finds Child In Public Housing Residence With Drugs and Unsecured Guns Within Reach
On 7-31-17 at approximately 11:30 a.m., Winter Haven Police received information that Michael Merriweather (DOB 1-10-91, Winter Haven) was inside of an apartment at the Abbey Lane Complex, located on Evergreen Place in Winter Haven. Merriweather had multiple felony warrants for Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Resisting Arrest with Violence, Possession of Cannabis, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Aggravated Fell to Elude.
As officers arrived, they located a vehicle that Merriweather was reportedly driving. The white Chrysler was parked in front of a residence on Evergreen Place. A subject was seen exiting the residence and entering the back seat of the vehicle. As officers approached the vehicle, 19 year-old Gregory Lewis Mikell (DOB 10-5-97, 8th Ave S, Bartow) and 17 year-old Anquan Butler (DOB 2-9-00, Taylor Blvd., Winter Haven), who is on Felony Probation for Burglary, were inside of the vehicle. There was a strong odor of cannabis and smoke coming from the vehicle. There also was a three year-old child strapped in a car seat in the back seat of the car.
After both occupants were detained, it was determined that the small child was in Merriweather’s care. Officers knocked on the apartment door and the lease holder, 28 year-old Decara Hardee (DOB 2-14-89, 206 Evergreen Place, Winter Haven) answered. Hardee told officers there were numerous people inside and she was willing to cooperate with officers. Merriweather along with eight other subjects were removed from the apartment. Merriweather was taken into custody on the outstanding warrants. Hardee explained that she routinely let people “hang out” in her apartment.
As officers walked around the apartment, there were multiple areas where drugs and drug paraphernalia were seen in plain sight. Additionally, a firearm was seen protruding from underneath a mattress. At that time, officers authored a search warrant for the apartment, which was signed by a judge and produced to Hardee.
During the search of the apartment, five firearms, miscellaneous ammunition, 113 grams of narcotics to include cannabis, cocaine and prescription pills and drug paraphernalia were found stashed throughout the rooms. Also located in Hardee’s bedroom, where she allows a 3 year-old child to sleep with her, officers found an open bag of cannabis, baggies, a digital scale and Hardee’s identification card. Also, three of the five firearms that were located inside of the apartment were determined to be stolen.
A total of four people were arrested on various charges: Hardee, Merriweather and Mikell were booked into the Polk County Jail. Butler was taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Bartow.
Charges are as follows:
Decara Hardee – Possession of Cannabis in Public Housing Facility (FSS 893.13(1)(F)) F-2, Negligent Child Abuse w/o Bodily Harm (FSS 827.03) F-3, Possession of Cocaine (FSS 893.13(6A)) F-3, Maintain Structure for Keeping Controlled Substance (FSS 893.13(7)(A) M-1, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (FSS 893.147) M-1
Michel Merriweather – (in addition to the outstanding warrants) Knowing Abuse Child W/O Bodily Harm (FSS 827.03(2)(C) F-3
Gregory Lewis Mikell – Knowing Abuse Child W/O Bodily Harm (FSS 827.03(2)(C) F-3, and Possession of Cannabis (FSS 893.13(6)(B) M-1
Anquan Butler – (In addition to Violation of Felony Probation) Possession of Cannabis (FSS 893.13(6)(B) M-1 and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (FSS 893.147) M-1