SARASOTA, Fla. -- You count on law enforcement to take care of you and your loved ones when they're called out to help.
But the Sarasota sheriff says one of its deputies exploited an elderly woman for thousands of dollars then tried to kill her.
“He’s a criminal, he’s acting like a criminal so he gets arrested and treated like a criminal,” says Sheriff Tom Knight.
But not all alleged criminals get arrested and escorted by their boss unless you are one of his deputies like 46-year-old Frankie Eugene Bybee.
Knight says, “I hope he gets prosecuted more exceptionally than a normal criminal would. He used the uniform for public trust.”
The alleged victim is 79-year-old Marcia Sohl.
“Bybee initiated a relationship with the victim for both his personal and financial gain,” says Knight.
According to arrest records, Bybee first met Sohl during a medical service call in October and two months later in December she filed a complaint against him for harassment.
Deputies say he cashed a $1,000 check meant for her dog Jay-Jay’s care while she was hospitalized. The sheriff says Bybee found a new home for the dog on Craigslist without her permission.
Then, on Jan. 12, three days after deputies received an envelope with four checks totaling $65,000 to Bybee and his kids. What appeared to be a case of exploitation of the elderly also turned into attempted murder.
Deputies say Bybee broke into Sohl’s home wearing dark clothing and blue latex gloves, and tried making it look like a suicide.
“Bybee mounted the victim and while holding her down, force prescription medication in her mouth,” described Knight.
Sohl’s car was running, the house filled with carbon monoxide. Sohl called for help and told neighbors.
“She said the man tried to kill her. I couldn’t believe it. She said you should see my face,” says Chalyce Sullivan, Sohl’s friend and neighbor.
Bybee held his head low during his first court appearance Monday afternoon. His attorney Charlie Britt told the judge Bybee has an alibi, denies the allegations and questions the victim’s story. Bybee faces charges of battery, forgery, burglary and attempted homicide.
Britt says, “The witness is this case has been Baker Acted many times and is mentally incompetent.”
Neighbors say Sohl has had health issues for several years.
Sullivan says, “She’s a nice person doesn’t deserve that to happen.”
The sheriff's office says Jay-Jay -- the victim's dog -- has been found and is back home.
The sheriff is asking anyone to come forward if they think they've been exploited by Bybee during his 18 years with the sheriff's Criminal Investigations Section at 941-861-4935 or 941-861-4932.
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