Just before attending a vigil for her daughter who was found dead Tuesday, Deirdre Miller on Wednesday sent The Palm Beach Post a statement she wanted to share with the public. Miller’s daughter, Samantha, came down from New Jersey to South Florida about four years ago for recovery. She went missing Nov. 18, and was found in a SUV on Tuesday. Those close to her believe she overdosed on drugs.
Here is her statement:
“My daughter was lured to the beaches, palm trees, warm weather and sun. When I arrived to Florida (to search for her) and I walked the streets for a week, I was devastated with what I have seen. The (rundown areas), the young adult addicts sleeping in parks, the panhandling. This is not what is promised to our children struggling with addiction problems. During our search for Samantha , my 16 year old daughter saw not one but two drug deals right in front of a halfway house. How is this possible? Why is this happening? ”
BOCA RATON — If you’re a fan of fine wines, artisan cheeses and costly, gold-lined tins of caviar, spend a little a time at GourmetPhile, a specialty market that recently opened at Royal Palm Place in Boca Raton.
GourmetPhile is the brainchild of Blair Leavall and his wife, Zhanna, who aimed to amass the most exquisite gourmet goods from countries throughout the world for local one-stop-shoppers.
“We want to become the gathering place for foodies, chefs and lovers of fine foods,” Leavall said. GourmetPhile — which is set up like a small market with sections for cheeses, chocolates and everything in between — opened Nov. 18 in a space near Indian Sapphire Cuisine.
They specialize in the foods you “can’t find at Publix or Whole Foods,” as Leavall puts it. Some of these goods include Kumsi tea leaves from Russia, Scottish and Norwegian Salmon, and European sausages.
In a temperature and humidity-controlled room toward the back of the shop, you’ll find more than 250 curated wines and an extensive chocolate collection.
Shoppers can create gift baskets by selecting different gourmet goods, and the shop will package and design it.
“We noticed a sort of hole in the marketplace (in Boca) for these sort of gourmet goods,” said Leavall, who has lived in Boca Raton for two years now.
But GourmetPhile isn’t reserved for those with a penchant for fine foods, it’s also place to learn about gourmet goods and grow your fondness.
On Tuesday evening, the specialty shop held a caviar tasting, in which a handful of patrons had the chance to taste multiple Petrossian caviars, a French company that sells some of the priciest sturgeon roe (a term for eggs) in the business.
“We want to be a sort of rich venue for people to hang out, learn about these foods and taste them,” Leavall said following the tasting. The shop plans to hold wine, cheese and other similar tastings at least twice per week for a fixed cost depending on the date and foods. They’ll advertise the tastings on their website, www.gourmetphile.com.
At the tastings, GourmetPhile will bring in experts to share tidbits about the different gourmet foods.
Said Leavall: “We want to be the place to go for the best of the best.”
Community members have planned a vigil Wednesday night for the 27-year-old Boynton Beach woman who went missing and wasfound dead 11 days later in an SUV parked at a Publix parking lot.
Samantha Miller, 27, came to South Florida from New Jersey a few years ago for recovery. Samantha gave back and helped others by working in a treatment facility after she got sober. But recently, she relapsed and was struggling with drugs again. Samantha’s boyfriend, Richie Lewis, reported her missing Nov. 18 after she took his 2006 white Mercury Mountaineer to Walmart and never returned.
Miller’s mother, Deirdre, wrote in Facebook community groups about her daughter, and garnered the attention of the community, connecting with residents she didn’t even know.
Tamara Stella, a Boynton Beach resident, is one of them. And she is one of the organizers of Wednesday night’s vigil.
“I just saw it on Facebook and I don’t know how Dee and I got to talking but I said ‘I’ll help you’,” Stella told The Palm Beach Post.
The vigil will be at 8 p.m. at the pavilion across from Boston’s on the Beach, 40 S. Ocean Blvd. in Delray Beach. Then the group will go to the beach and light candles. There will be another vigil Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in the same area.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s detectives who found Miller can’t say what caused her death. But, they do not suspect foul play. The medical examiner will make the final determination.
Stella knows what it’s like in recovery — she’s been there herself, and she helps struggling addicts. She did her best to help Deirdre find her daughter. She walked the streets, she went into drug areas, she gave out fliers.
“We weren’t going to find her any other way,” she said. “I knew in my heart that it was about recovery, the industry.”
BOCA RATON — A semi-annual state crime report shows more violent crimes were reported in Boca Raton in the first half of 2016 than in the first half of 2015.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Monday released the crime statistics, which document the number of murders, robberies, larcenies, rapes, burglaries, assaults and vehicle thefts reported by law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
There were two murders in Boca Raton in the first half of 2016, compared to none in the first half of 2015, according to the crime stats. There was one fewer rape reported in 2016 than 2015, which saw 12 reported sexual assaults.
The number of robberies nearly doubled. In the first half of 2016, there were 52 reported robberies, compared to just 30 in that same time last year, according to the report.
There was also a 15 percent increase in property thefts, a non-violent crime. There was, however, a 22 percent decrease in the number of reported vehicle thefts.
BOCA RATON — City Councilman Scott Singer is hosting “Coffee and a Conversation” on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the downtown library.
At 10 a.m., he plans chat with residents and to discuss his “five big ideas” for Boca Raton, according to a press release. It’s one “Coffee and a Conversation” in a series of town hall-style meetings Singer has held in Boca Raton throughout the year.
Singer recently kicked off his re-election campaign for the March 14 municipal election. Challengers have until January to file with the city clerk’s office, although none have filed to run against Singer as of Tuesday, according to the city website.
What:“Coffee and a Conversation” with Boca Raton Councilman Scott Singer
DELRAY BEACH — A recently released state crime report shows a spike in burglaries and larcenies in Delray Beach during the first half of 2016, although the police department is not surprised by those statistics.
“Throughout the year, we did a campaign to get people to lock their doors (to their cars),” said Chief Jeff Goldman. “We were seeing numbers we’ve never seen before.”
According to a semi-annual report released Monday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there was a 17.5 percent increase in the number of property thefts in the first six months of this year compared to 2015. There was an 8 percent increase in burglaries and a 24 percent increase in stolen vehicles, according to the statistics.
Since the beginning of the year, the Delray Beach Police Department has made attempts to educate residents on deterring theft, often with tips as simple as “lock your doors,” after they noticed a spike in unlocked vehicle burglaries.
The department even created a video two months ago in which they tried to open car doors at a Delray Beach apartment complex to see how many were left unlocked. Out of the 60 vehicles they checked, 11 were unlocked, many with valuables inside.
Many of the car thefts reported involve unlocked vehicles with the keys or key fobs inside, Goldman said.
“If you see something, say something. Call the police,” Goldman suggests to residents who spot seemingly shady behavior near them.
“Be aware of your surroundings,” he added. “And don’t leave anything visible in your car, it just invites people to get into the car.”
The crime report also shows there were three homicides in the first six months of 2016, compared to one in the first half of 2015.
These homicides, often “crimes of opportunity,” Goldman said, are more difficult to deter. The department has regular crime analysis meetings to look at these statistics in-depth in case there are trends.
Here are the crime stats, according to FDLE:
Motor vehicle theft
Delray Beach Police Department
Delray Beach Police Department
Source: Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Statistics cover crime for the first half of each year.
The number of violent crimes, such as robbery and aggravated assault, in the first half of this year in Boynton Beach were down compared to that of the first half of 2015, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics released Monday.
However, non-violent crimes, such as larceny and motor vehicle theft, increased.
Overall, crime in the first half of the year increased by 9.9 percent compared to the first half of 2015, the stats show.
For overall crime, Boynton came in the third highest in Palm Beach County with an index of 1,953, behind the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (7,796) and West Palm Beach (3,150). Delray Beach came in fourth with an index of 1,591.
“The program will also feature a special piece entitled Christmas Recollections, which includes perennial holiday favorites like Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Here Comes Santa Claus,” the release says.
For tickets or more information, contact Janet Hakala or Evelyn Henry at 561-369-2300 or email BWC1909@gmail.com
The second concert of the series will be Jan. 22 when Roberta DeMuro will perform. On April 2, pianist Al Guastafeste will perform.
Proceeds from all concerts will go to the Boynton Woman’s Club Historic Preservation Fund to help with the renovation and restoration.
DELRAY BEACH — The city’s Fire Rescue Department is partnering with American Red Cross to provide local homes with free smoke detectors on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Firefighters, along with volunteers from Red Cross, will go door-to-door in the Carver Estates neighborhood, a low-income public housing complex, and install the smoke detectors between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., according to the department.
“Installing smoke detectors is part of (Delray Beach Fire Rescue’s) fire safety plan and is consistent with the day-to-day operation of the Fire Safety Division,” said Kevin Saxton, the department’s spokesman, in a statement.
In April 2015, the fire department received a $1,500 grant to purchase smoke detectors for the free installation program. Any Delray Beach resident can have their home assessed by the department to see if they qualify for a free smoke detector.
To ask about an evaluation, call the Fire Rescue Department at 561-243-7400.