Lakeland, FL

"Deadly encounter at tow yard" leads to charges for Central Florida couple

Evie M.

Husband and wife duo Michael and Elissa Denn, who'd owned Mulberry towing company and reported by Polk Police to have been working at Stoll Manor Mobile Home Park in Lakeland, are now "facing multiple felony charges" after an investigation revealed they were "carrying out illegal towing practices."

The Denn's were towing cars illegally at night

After complaints trickled in from Stoll Manor Mobile Home Park from upset residents telling police about a "couple coming into the neighborhood at night, when management wasn’t there, and towing vehicles the business deemed in violation of a written agreement," PCSO began investigating the the company.

Detectives were able to obtain a copy of said agreement, which said, “vehicles should be towed immediately if they are ‘blocking exits,’ parked in ‘grass,’ or ‘on the street,’ including ‘boats and trailers.’” The agreement mentioned that Strapped Towing would give violators a stickered warning.

BUT.

The Denn's could not tow the rule-breaking vehicles.

Strapped towing vehicles used a Lakeland location, though they were farther away.

PCOS says the couple "removed 19 vehicles from inside Stoll Manor between May 15 and May 16" and that they were taken to Strapped Towing's location in Mulberry, "almost 17 miles away from the Mobile Home Park.

And while “any county with a population of more than 500,000, any vehicle towed must be stored within a 10-mile radius from the point of removal, the company vehicles were using a Lakeland location, giving the idea they were closer than they were.

Michael Denn was already in jail for shooting a customer when Elissa was arrested

Michael Denn had been arrested in May after PCSO records say he "fatally shot a customer" identified as a 36-year-old man named Juan Barroso-Muriel. Denn was taken into the Polk County Jail, where he's remained, and police say he "faced a second-degree murder charge," but twenty-one additional felony charges were added for the illegal towing practices, such as "19 counts of storing vehicles outside a 10-mile radius, one count of a failure to have address properly marked on a tow vehicle, and one count of a failure to stop towing at an owner’s request."

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Mr. Barroso-Muriel, the fatal gunshot victim, actually got into an "argument and a fist fight" with Marshall, Michael Denn's brother after his vehicle was towed from the Mobile Home Park.

“So Juan would be alive today had Michael Denn just followed the law. There never would have been a confrontation in Mulberry at the tow yard.”

As for his wife, Elissa, who co-owned the business, she was arrested on Wednesday following the conclusion of the investigation and, according to an official statement from PCSO, "faces felony charges including 19 counts of storing vehicles outside of a 10-mile radius from removal location and two counts of failure to have address properly marked on private property tow vehicle."

Did you hear the news? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if you'd like to see the official statement on the Polk County Sheriff Facebook, you can check it out here:

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