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Sara DiNatale, Times Staff Writer

Sara DiNatale

Sara DiNatale is a digital and breaking news reporter who keeps on the pulse of what people are buzzing about in Tampa Bay. She is from Buffalo, New York, where she graduated with a degree in English from the University at Buffalo. She has worked for the Boston Globe, the Oregonian and the Buffalo News.

Phone: (727) 893-8862


Twitter: @sara_dinatale

  1. Polk sheriff: Gibsonton man sent child porn to Bay News 9 anchor


    A 20-year-old Gibsonton man was indicted on federal charges after authorities said he repeatedly sent child pornography to a news anchor for Bay News 9.

    Marchaun Browning faces three counts of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 16 and arrested two days later.

    Polk Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrest Tuesday and said investigators believe there are other victims out there. Judd asked them to come forward and contact the Sheriff's Office....

  2. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    The groups — Save Southern Heritage, Veterans' Monuments of America and the United Daughters of the Confederacy — contend that the decision to move the statue from the old Hillsborough County courthouse is unconstitutional and that the County Commission failed to follow its own laws in voting to do so....

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  3. Father who jokes he'd burn a school down is now banned from all Polk County school grounds


    A Polk County father has been banned from all school properties after he made a comment on his Facebook page that he "wanted to burn the (school) down."

    Chris Stephenson, of Lakeland, was venting about a letter he got from his son's middle school Parent-Teacher-Student Association that said children whose parents donated $100 could get a pass to the front of the lunch line.

    He didn't think that was fair....

    Christopher Stephenson was banned from his child's school after writing he wanted to burn the school down on Facebook. Something the father says was clearly a figure of speech, but the school says was a creditable threat. (Facebook)
  4. Good luck finding solar eclipse glasses across Tampa Bay, U.S.


    When Andi Figart arrives to work at the New Port Richey Library, she often finds small groups of people waiting for the doors to open up at 10 a.m.

    But when she arrived Thursday morning she had never seen this before:

    People lined up in lawn chairs outside the library like they were waiting for Black Friday.

    RELATED: Solar eclipse: Where to buy glasses, find safe viewings or travel Monday...

    NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 11: Pairs of free solar eclipse glasses sit on display at a Warby Parker store  on August 11, 2017 in New York City. To view the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21 eye protection is essential. The designer eyeglass store expects to give out thousands of pairs of the glasses before the event.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  5. Mapping Florida's hate: Tampa Bay home to hate groups like KKK

    Public Safety

    A New Port Richey man with a Swastika tattooed above his heart was arrested last week. He and four other self-proclaimed neo-Nazis were caught with illegal guns, drugs and Nazi propaganda, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

    FROM 2015: Dan DeWitt: Time to mark Hernando's history of lynchings with a monument...

    Michael Baun was one of the five people deputies say were found in Pasco County with Nazi propaganda, meth and illegal fire arms. (Pasco County Sheriff's Office)
  6. Police identify family of three killed in fiery Selmon Expressway crash


    TAMPA — The three people who died in a fiery wreck Thursday were all members of a New Tampa family, Tampa police said Saturday.

    Luiz Felipak, 41, was the driver of the Hyndai sedan that was hit by a speeding 2014 Kia on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

    Police tentatively identified the other two victims, pending DNA results, as Rita Felipak, 29, and the couple's daughter Giorgia, 8....

    Police say Luiz Felipak, 41, was one of three people killed in Thursday's crash on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. They tentatively identified two other members of his family, Rita and Giorgia Felipak, as fatal victims as well. FACEBOOK.
  7. Electrician who tried to rape customer gets 50 years in prison


    TAMPA — She sobbed quietly as the courtroom was filled with the sound of the 911 call she made moments after escaping the man who tried to sexually assault her in her own home.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Hillsborough deputies: Electrician attacks Riverview woman in her home...

    Adam Silva Millan, 52, of Ruskin, pleaded guilty to burglary and assault charges. He was arrested in May for brutally attacking a woman in her home. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  8. Manatee County State Attorney joins shark video, abuse investigation

    Public Safety

    The shark videos that have captivated the internet, prompted allegations of animal abuse and even shut down the local premiere party of an MTV reality show are now being investigated by the State Attorney's Office in Manatee County.

    Andrew Van Sickle, with the county's animal abuse unit, said his agency is working alongside the Florida Fish Wildlife Conservation to see if anyone involved in the infamous videos and photos — including one that appears to show a shark being dragged to death behind a boat — can be charged. ...

    Alex Kompothecras, left, in a scene from MTV's "Siesta Key." [MTV]
  9. Q&A: 8 teens are dead. Here's a guide to Pinellas County's car theft epidemic


    Two days after a joyride in a stolen car left three teen boys dead in Palm Harbor, the injured have left hospitals and surviving suspects have been charged.

    Now Pinellas County sheriff's deputies are analyzing harrowing video and data from a fiery crash. They've talked to the 14-year-old boy who survived it and apprehended two other teens who they say were inside a second stolen vehicle that fled....

    Police released the dash cam footage of the first officer to respond to the scene of the crash that left three teenagers dead.
  10. Drugs, domestic violence and abuse reports preceded death of 8-month-old boy

    Public Safety

    LARGO — There was no shortage of warning signs before the 8-month-old boy was found gray and not breathing in his father's sweltering bedroom.

    Three reports to the state's abuse hotline over the past year included concerns about how William Hendrickson III, 26, disciplined his children and noted "ongoing" domestic violence between the parents.

    Even after a social worker was assigned to the family, both parents continued to test positive for marijuana, records show....

    William Hendrickson III, 26, faces charges in the death of his 8-month-old son in Largo.
  11. You can catch a hazy Tampa Bay sunset tonight because of dust from Sahara


    If grabbing a snapshot of a Tampa Bay sunset wasn't alluring enough, the next few days may force you to take out your smartphone while dust all the way from the Sahara Desert moves across Florida.

    The product is milky skies, said Tampa National Weather Service meteorologist John McMichael.

    "It comes off the African Coast and moves to the west with prevailing easterly flow over the portions of Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico," he said. "It can produce hazy skies." ...

    If grabbing a snapshot of a Tampa Bay sunset wasn't alluring enough, the next few days may force you to take out your smartphone while dust all the way from the Sahara Desert moves across Florida. The product is milky skies, said Tampa National Weather Service meteorologist John McMichael. [Photo from video]
  12. Their grandson died in a 109-degree room. They wonder, 'How did we give birth to such a monster?'

    Human Interest


    Carrie Hendrickson could hear her granddaughter's tiny voice coming from the other side of her son's closed bedroom door Thursday.

    "Grandma! Grandma!" the two-year-old cried. "Milk, water. Milk, water."

    Just the day before, a Child Protective Services caseworker had told her 25-year-old son, William Hendrickson III, to keep the door open — warning him that the room was too hot for the toddlers who lived in the room with him. Now Hendrickson could hear her granddaughter quietly sobbing on the other side of the door....

    Items are seen on a counter in the bedroom of William Francis Hendrickson, 25, in Largo, Fla., on Sunday, July 30, 2017. Hendrickson is facing charges after police found his infant son lifeless in this bedroom.
  13. Winter Haven police officer accused of having sex with 17-year-old


    A 39-year-old Winter Haven police officer was arrested Saturday and charged with having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

    Winter Haven police received a tip at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday about the relationship between the girl and officer William Kenna, a five-year member of the police department. Officers found the two together alone in a room and contacted the Polk County Sheriff's Office to handle the investigation....

    William Kenna, 39, and a Winter Haven police officer, was arrested on charges he had sex with a 17-year-old girl. (Polk County Sheriff's Office)
  14. Largo police: Father told day before baby's death not to leave him in hot bedroom


    LARGO — Police say the father whose 8-month-old was left in a bedroom with no air conditioning was told the day before the infant's death to keep his children in another room.

    William Francis Hendrickson, 25, now faces charges after police found his son lifeless in a playpen on Thursday.

    The bedroom at the S Belcher Road mobile home was 109 degrees when police arrived. The baby's body temperature was 105.6 degrees, and Hendrickson's daughter, 2, was sent to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital to be treated for dehydration, according to a police affidavit....

    William Francis Hendrickson, 25, seen with his daughter, had been warned about the heat.
  15. A 94-year-old's tricycle was stolen and St. Petersburg police need help finding it (w/video)


    ST. PETERSBURG — It was supposed to be a quick trip for eye drops and eye wash.

    Instead, Richard Griffin's stop at his neighborhood CVS wound up throwing his whole life off-kilter when a thief made off with his motorized tricycle.

    Now the 94-year-old is desperate for its return. He said it's the only way he can get around.

    "I need that bike very much so," he said. "For groceries, all of that."...

    Surveillance video released Wednesday shows a man stealing a tricycle that belongs to Richard Griffin outside a CVS on July 18.