Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, October 20, 2011
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Body found floating
May be missing sailboat resident

A body believed to be that of a missing live-aboard was found Wednesday by salvors who were rounding up boats and dinghies displaced after a waterspout ripped through Wisteria Island and the surrounding area late Tuesday.

The body, believed to be 42-year-old Donald Roller, was in about 5 feet of water on the Gulf side of the island, between it and Roller's sailboat, the Quest, said Capt. Arnaud Girard, who owns a private salvaging company. The body was about 60 feet from the Quest and 100 feet from where Roller's girlfriend told authorities she last saw him alive Monday night, Girard said.

"My mate, Jeff Sundwal, actually found the body and called me over," said Girard, who was in a separate boat.

After they pulled the body onto Girard's 23-foot salvage boat, the Magic Penny, the Coast Guard arrived and took the body ashore, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Kara Lavin.

The Monroe County medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death, and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office is investigating the circumstances.

"It is currently a 'death investigation,' " sheriff's spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin said, adding there were no obvious signs of foul play on Roller's body. "We will have to see what the autopsy reveals."

Girard also said there was no obvious sign of trauma, only a cut on Roller's shoulder.

Roller's live-in girlfriend, Beverly Anderson, had reported him missing at 7:30 p.m. Monday, saying she saw him dive off their 25-foot sailboat as she drifted toward Wisteria Island in a dinghy with a dead engine, according to a sheriff's report.

Anderson told authorities she had left because she and Roller were arguing. Anderson initially couldn't get the dinghy engine started, so Roller got into the dinghy and started it for her, then got back on their boat, and she left, she told authorities. When the engine quit, Roller asked if she wanted him to swim over and help her, but she never saw him after he jumped into the water, she said.

Key West Harbor is known for its strong currents, but Girard said there was little movement Monday night between the high and low tides.

Authorities searched Wisteria Island Monday night and used helicopters and several boats to continue searching the area Tuesday, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission went boat to boat searching for Roller.

Anderson has been arrested five times since April 2007, including twice on battery charges, according to Sheriff's Office records.

She was convicted of a felony for stabbing a man in the back three times with a paint scraper while her then-boyfriend held him down on Wisteria Island in May 2009, according to a Sheriff's Office report. The man, who Anderson accused of stealing her dive gear, suffered only a superficial cut near his shoulder blade.

In July 2010, a different boyfriend told authorities Anderson cut his wrist with a filet knife as he defended himself from being stabbed by her during an argument on a boat near Wisteria Island, according to a sheriff's report. Though he didn't want to press charges because she was on probation for the previous stabbing, authorities charged her with misdemeanor battery, instead of felony aggravated battery, but the charges later were dropped.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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