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On May 23rd, the victim, 17 yrs old at the time of the incident and a student at Lakeland Senior High School (LHS) responded to the Lakeland Police Department to report a sexual battery. The victim stated that the suspect, Joseph Tillman, 18 yrs old and also a student of LHS was at her house assisting her with some studies when he sexually battered her on the carport. This location is within the jurisdiction of the Lakeland Police Department. The victim stated these actions were against her will and unwanted. This incident occurred on March 29th, 2014 and was not reported until May 23rd.

 

On May 29th, detectives received information on a second victim and she was interviewed. The victim, 17 yrs old and a student at LHS, stated that at the end of January or beginning of February, she was at a park located within the city limits of Lakeland and speaking to Tillman. The victim stated that she went to use the restroom and Tillman entered the restroom afterwards locking the door. The victim advised she was then sexually battered against her will.

 

On May 29th, at 10:00pm, Joseph Tillman was arrested at his residence, 1036 Butter Cup Drive, Lakeland, Fla. 


The City of Lakeland Police Department is teaming up with The Ledger to present information to the community regarding 40 unsolved cold cases that they are trying to solve.  Lakeland Police Department Chief Larry Giddens said, “Some of these crimes go back decades and we are pleased to be working with The Ledger to help solve these cases.” He added, “Perhaps we can get a lead or as we share information, someone will remember a detail that will be just the spark that we need to close a case.”

The Ledger will be publishing a three-part series on the City’s cold cases and unsolved murders. The series will run Sunday through Tuesday but will continue for months as The Ledger profiles some of the more interesting cases every other week.

Lenore Devore, Editor for The Ledger said, “The goal is to bring the community together to solve some of the cases. It’s easy to criticize law enforcement for not solving crimes and it’s much harder when you realize that people with key evidence won’t cooperate. That’s what LPD says it faced for a long time – a community often unwilling to get involved.”  She added “We hope that publicizing the information will make the community more aware and someone will step forward with a key piece of information.”

“In the past few months, community involvement has combined with excellent detective work to solve several homicides and shootings quickly,” said Assistant Chief Mike Link. “Things have gotten better and people are calling in tips, whether anonymous or not and that’s a step in the right direction."

Law enforcement officials often dedicate years of service to solve murders, battling frustration, fatigue and at times depression trying to clear just one crime. They deal with family members who range from understanding to inconsolable to very angry because of the many questions that are still left unanswered.  Who did it? Why? Was the victim the target or an innocent bystander? Why isn’t there a conviction? Why hasn’t justice been served?

The series, titled “It Takes a Community to Solve a Murder,” culminates with a community forum from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on June 5th in the City Commission chambers at Lakeland City Hall, 228 S. Massachusetts Ave.

During the forum, citizens will hear from:
•  Assistant Police Chief Link
•  Cold case supervisor Jeff Birdwell
•  Detective Brad Grice
•  Brian Haas, spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office
•  Local psychologist and Ledger columnist Dr. Berney Wilkinson
•  The Rev. Arthur Johnson
•  The mother of a slain man, Linda Cook Thames 

Each panelist will bring their own perspective to dealing with unsolved murders and cold cases, from why some cases cannot be solved quickly to the toll cases take on families and detectives to the efforts made to raise community awareness.
 
This is a chance for the community to get involved in the conversation and to show your support for the Lakeland Police Department. Join us June 5th to hear from our esteemed panelists. If you have a question you’d like answered during the forum, please send it to coldcases@theledger.com; the best questions will be asked at the forum.  

The Lakeland Police Department has a tips hotline that is available for community members to report crime information/criminal activity 24-hours a day, 365 days per year. To access the hotline you can contact 863/834-2549, or e-mail us at tips@lakelandgov.net.  To report information on a cold case file, contact Lakeland Police through e-mail at coldcasetips@lakelandgov.net. 

Information is accepted anonymously, or the caller may leave information to be contacted by an investigator. All information regarding reporting persons is held in strict confidence, and shall not be divulged to any party. Remember, it takes a community to solve a murder!




 



        

On Sunday, April 14, 2014, between 2:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m., unknown white males (possibly four) entered an abandoned building on the property of Key Safety Systems, 5300 Allen K Breed Highway. After the suspects cut the chain linked fence surrounding the property, they pried the door and entered the building.

The suspects had flashlights and were wearing headlamps to search the area. Three of the suspects appeared to be wearing gloves. The stolen property included a hand pallet lifter and copper wiring totaling $1,200.00. This business has been the victim of numerous burglaries in the past few months, LPD event #14-4767, #14-6749, #14-7676.

Anyone with information on the identification of these individuals are asked to contact the Lakeland Police Department at 863-834-6900, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward, you must contact Crime Stoppers.

LPD Event #14-7676        Detective Robertson

    

June 1, 2014 – August 31, 2014 young adults ages 12 – 18 can ride Polk Transit free of charge through the Youth Summer of Safety Program.  Simply fill out the Pledge card and registration and bring it to the Lakeland Police Department, Winter Haven Police Department or Simpson Park to receive your identification card. The card will allow youth to ride any fixed transit bus in Polk County to locations, such as restaurants, movies, Kelly Rec Center, The Skate Park, Simpson Park and more. To map out the routes and hotspots, go to www.polktransit.org.

2014 Youth Summer of Safety brochure


Registration runs through June 6, 2014.