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Frantic 911 call details bloody scene at Jupiter Farms yard

The mystery of what happened to David Middleton — food broker, landlord, plaintiff in multiple lawsuits that sometimes lasted close to a decade — came to the world’s attention shortly after 10:30 am. Monday when a UPS driver saw something terribly wrong on his morning route.

“Customer laying in the yard,” the driver told an emergency operator, according to a 911 call recording released Tuesday. “Looks like there’s blood on him.”

At first, the driver could not tell if the man was still alive. While on the phone with 911, he moved for a closer look.

“Oh no, it looks like he’s not breathing at all,” the driver said. “He’s got blood everywhere.”

Much of it seemed to come from the man’s mouth and was also visible on his hands and leg, the driver said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what officials confirmed Tuesday was a shooting.

“Detectives do not believe there is ANY threat to the community,” according to a PBSO statement issued Monday, shortly after Middleton’s body was discovered. The statement said the investigation is “still very active and ongoing.”

Monday’s call for service was the first one the sheriff’s office had received all year to Middleton’s home on 179th Court North. The home sits about five miles west of Interstate 95 and just south of Indiantown Road near the Cypress Creek Natural Area.

Public records show the 63-year-old Middleton, who was divorced in 2009, had worked as what one lawsuit described as a “food broker” and had operated a marketing business since the late 1990s. Along the way, he was a plaintiff in multiple lawsuits.

One stretched on for about nine years. It alleged breach of contract by a business associate. In 2012, a judge ruled against him and ordered Middleton to pay more than $90,000 of the defendant’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Middleton alleged in a civil theft case that a Miami-Dade resident and an affiliated firm misappropriated thousands of bags of black kidney beans stored in a Hialeah warehouse and sent them to Haiti. Court records refer to a judgment awarding more than $300,000 to Middleton, but it was stayed amid bankruptcy proceedings and efforts to collect it continued. An attorney representing Middleton in that case did not return a call.

Nelson Scheerer said he knew Middleton and they helped each other through illnesses and setbacks.

Still, the two found themselves on opposite sides of ongoing litigation, Scheerer acknowledged.

As a landlord, Middleton claimed Scheerer and his wife owed him $11,600 in rent on a Jupiter Farms property and alleged “extensive damage” including “stolen appliances and fixtures,” records show.

In a counterclaim, the couple said they made extensive repairs on the property with the understanding the landlord was writing up a purchase agreement and they were the ones who were owed $13,985.

“Dave and I did have a falling out,” Scheerer said. “We’ve been out of touch for a couple of months.”

Despite that, he said, “Dave was my friend, period.”

Staff writer Julius Whigham II and staff researcher Melanie Mena contributed to this story.

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