On November 20, 2018, at approximately 6:29 PM, the Lake Wales Police Department responded to a disturbance at the Kirkland Gym located at 409 North 3rd Street in Lake Wales. Upon arrival, they learned Travis Edward Stephens went to the gym to get his son who was there practicing with his basketball team. Travis’ estranged wife, Beverly Smith Stephens was there with their son. Travis began to argue over the custody of their 9-year-old son when Travis removed his son from the gym. Travis physically put their son in his GMC Safari van and locked the door. Witness and coach, Burney Hayes, attempted to intervene and calm the two down. Travis then entered the van as Beverly tried to keep Travis from taking their son. Travis would not open the doors so Beverly jump onto the hood of the van and climbed up on the roof of the van. Travis accelerated quickly and made a sharp right turn throwing Beverly from the top of the van. This caused Beverly to strike her head on the road. Travis continued to drive away. He never stopped to check on Beverly and never called the police to report the incident.
Beverly sustained major head trauma from being thrown from the van. Beverly was air lifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center and is in critical condition.
Travis was located in Winter Haven by Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The son was still with Travis and was okay. Travis did not offer any resistance during his arrest. Lake Wales Police transported Travis back to the police department as the investigation continued. Lake Wales Detectives charged Travis with aggravated battery domestic violence and transported him to the County Jail.
The son is safe and with family. The Stephens family is from Lake Wales. Travis is 38 years of age and Beverly is 34.
The Lake Wales Police Department is sad to see a family torn apart due to unnecessary domestic violence. It always hurts even more around this time of year when families are supposed to be together enjoying each other.
If you have any other information about this case, please contact Detective Ben Metz at 863-678-4223. If you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS (8477).
***** Editors Note ***** Travis Edward Stephens has a previous arrest and conviction in Polk County for domestic violence and contempt of court – violation of injunction protection domestic violence back in 2010.