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On August 16, 2015, at 1:40pm, the Lakeland Police Department responded to a traffic crash at Harden Blvd and Beaker Blvd. James R. Birkhold, the driver of the 2014 Lexus ES 350 was eastbound on Beaker Blvd. Birkhold traveled into the intersection of Harden Blvd to make a left turn and was hit by a vehicle.


That vehicle, a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was driven by Kyle T Cooper, 24 years old. Cooper was traveling south on Harden Blvd in the left hand lane and hit Birkhold in the left side. Cooper was redirected off the roadway and into a ditch as a result of the collision. Cooper had his seat belt on and he is from Mulberry, Fla.


James Birkhold, 66 years old, was later pronounced deceased at the Lakeland Regional Health Medical Centerl. He was wearing a seat belt. Next-of-kin has been notified. Don Lindleg, 66 years old was a passenger in the vehicle. Lindleg is from Blythewood, South Carolina.


Morgan Thomas, 20 years old was a passenger in Coopers vehicle and was transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Health Center. Thomas is from Mulberry.


The traffic investigation will be turned over to a Traffic Homicide Investigator for follow-up and at this time, no charges have been filed.


Deceased: James R. Birkhold, 66 years old, Lakeland, Fla.



On August 12, 2015, the mother of Anastasia M. Valenti, 21 yrs old reported her daughter as missing from a north Lakeland location in the Bridgewater Subdivision. She was last seen on August 11th at 9:00 p.m. driving off in a gray 2011 Ford Focus, bearing Florida tag # AMR-T67.

Valenti was seen wearing a black shirt and blue jean stretch pants. She is 5’05” and 330 lbs. She is listed as an Endangered Missing Adult due to her diminished mental capacity and not taking her prescribed medication.

Anyone with information on the location of Anastasia Valenti is asked to contact Investigative Aide Charlene Ali at 863-834-8974, or the Lakeland Police Department at 863-834-6900.

Police Investigate Shooting 

On August 10th at 10:00am, the Lakeland Police Department responded to the Lakeland Regional Health Center in reference to a 13 month old child, being shot. The child was treated and it appears she did not suffer any permanent injury. The mother, Tylashia Sha’Crystal Davis, met with the officers at the hospital.

Davis advised that she was at work when her friend, who was house sitting for her called and stated that Davis' 13 month old child had been shot.


The friend told officers that she was sleeping and was awaken by a 17 year old male saying that the 13 month old was bleeding from her leg. She then stated that she immediately transported the 13 month old child to the hospital. The friend told officers that she did not hear anything such as the gunshot.


The 17 year old stated that he was outside of the apartment on the porch when he heard a loud pop. He stated he entered the apartment and saw the 13 month old sitting on the floor in front of a couch bleeding. He further stated that he saw a small caliber handgun in the hands of a 3 year old who is the brother of the 13 month old. The 17 year old did not remember who took the handgun from the 3 year old or where the handgun came from. The mother, Tylashia Sha’Crystal Davis, stated she did not have a handgun in the apartment.


Detectives responded to the scene and determined that 17 year old was outside with possibly 3 friends when the shooting occurred. The detectives were unable to recover the handgun as it had been moved and no one has any knowledge of what happened to the handgun. There are several inconsistencies in the statements that detectives obtained from witnesses at the scene. The Department of Children and Families took custody of the 13 month old victim and her 3 year old brother. No criminal charges have been filed at this time.


The circumstances surrounding the shooting are suspicious and this is still an ongoing criminal investigation at this time. Due to the “active” criminal investigation, the names of the witnesses and victims are exempt under the Florida Pubic Records Law pursuant, s.119.071(2)(c)1


Anyone with information on the location of this person is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-8477. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward, you must contact Crime Stoppers.




On August 8th, at 6:59pm, the homicide suspect, Matthew Clement Bell, was taken into custody without incident. A citizen called the police stating he was at the Lake Morton Coin Laundry, 815 E. Palmetto Street. Uniformed patrol officers checked the location and arrested Bell. No additional information at this time.


On Friday, August 7, 2015, at approximately 10:57 p.m. the Lakeland Police Department responded to a disturbance at 720 Johnson Avenue, Lakeland, Polk County, Fl.  Uniform officers discovered that two individuals had been stabbed, and the known suspect had fled the scene. 


Peter Latoski, 44 years old, suffered a single stab wound and his injury was serious, but not life threatening.  Mr. Latoski identified the suspect as Mathew Bell, 44 years old.  He indicated that a disturbance occurred at the rooming house and Bell was asked to leave the property. When Bell refused, the second victim, Mario Acosta attempted to escort Bell off of the property.  That led to a fist fight at which time Bell introduced a knife and stabbed Acosta. Mr. Latoski attempted to intervene and was stabbed once by Bell. Bell then fled the scene on foot and was not apprehended.


Mr. Latoski and Mr. Acosta were transported to Lakeland Regional Health Hospital and Acosta later died from his injuries. Detectives from the Violent Crimes Unit responded to investigate and they obtained a warrant for Bells arrest on 1st Degree Murder & Attempted 1st Degree Murder. Bell’s has not permanent address and is listed at large at this time.


Victim: Peter Latoski, 44 yrs old, 720 Johnson Avenue, Lakeland, Fla.


Decedent:  Mario Acosta, 58 yrs old, 720 Johnson Avenue, Lakeland, Fla.


Suspect: Matthew Clement Bell, 44 yrs old, No permanent address. Hgt. 5’07”, WGT 160, Brown hair, blue eyes. Bell was last seen wearing blue jeans with a black and white shirt. There is an active warrant for his arrest on 1st Degree Murder & Attempted 1st Degree Murder.


Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Matthew Bell is 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.