- Barbara Marshall Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Storms were major news in Palm Beach County in 2017, from the glancing blow dealt by Hurricane Irma to the tumult surrounding visits from our most famous part-time resident, President Donald Trump.
The county’s top ten stories of the year include an arrest in a sensational 27-year-old murder case and the prison sentence that put an end to the career of one of the most notorious figures in the county’s heroin plague.
Naturally, since this is Palm Beach County, famous people were seen here making news.
1. The visits of President Donald Trump: Residents became accustomed to the world’s attention — as well as protests and traffic jams — as President Trump visited his Palm Beach estate 10 times since his inauguration. In February, Trump generated shocked headlines as he and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe dealt with a national security crisis in view of Mar-a-Lago dinner guests, turning the mansion’s terrace into an al fresco situation room. After Trump seemed unable to pick a side following last summer’s deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, 19 charities canceled upcoming events at the president’s private club. In October, county taxpayers learned they will get a $1 million reimbursement for some of the costs of providing security during presidential visits.
2. Hurricane Irma blows by: It could have been The Big One, but thanks to a last minute western shift, Hurricane Irma raked the county with only Category Two winds, felling trees and power lines, but doing little structural damage. As part of the largest evacuation in Florida history, 290,000 county residents were urged to leave their homes; 17,000 crowded into shelters.
3. Alleged clown killer arrested: It took 27 years, but in September Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies arrested Sheila Keen-Warren for the 1990 murder of Marlene Warren, who was shot at her Wellington front door by someone dressed as a clown. Investigators were told that Keen-Warren and the victim’s husband, Michael Warren, were having an affair at the time of the murder. The couple married 12 years later and were living in Virginia when Keen-Warren was arrested.
4. Triple homicide in Jupiter: Three young people sitting around an outdoor fire pit were gunned down on Super Bowl weekend, when an apparent drug turf war erupted in the Jupiter backyard of a house filled with weapons. Two people have been arrested in the triple murders, whose brutality rocked the north county town. The man renting the house faces a variety of federal drug and weapons charges.
5. Sober home operator gets prison time: Kenneth Chatman, the subject of a Palm Beach Post investigation into the county’s heroin crisis, went to prison after pleading guilty to money laundering, health care fraud and sex trafficking. Chatman admitted holding some of the female clients at his sober homes captive, turning them into drug-addicted prostitutes.
6. Tiger asleep at the wheel: Jupiter Island resident and famed golfer Tiger Woods pleaded guilty in October to reckless driving after police found him asleep behind the wheel of his damaged Mercedes while on powerful painkillers. Following his arrest, Woods completed a substance abuse program and 50 hours of community service and was placed on 12-months probation.
7. Family of Seth Adams gets payout in son’s death: The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office agreed to pay $2.5 million to the family of Seth Adams, fatally shot by an undercover deputy in 2012. Adams was returning to his home at a Loxahatchee Groves nursery. His parents have asked State Attorney Dave Aronberg to re-open what they say was a botched investigation into their son’s death.
8. Family of Jupiter teen lost at sea sues: Two years after a pair of 14-year-old Jupiter boys were lost at sea in a 19-foot boat during a vicious storm, the mother of Perry Cohen sued the family of Austin Stephanos, alleging that negligence led to her son’s death.
9. Venus Williams involved in fatal accident: Tennis star Venus Williams was involved in a fatal accident in June outside the gates of her Ballenisles home in Palm Beach Gardens. The family of the 78-year-old retired tennis instructor who died later from “blunt traumatic injuries” has sued Williams, who was not cited in the crash.
10. Wellington sisters survive Las Vegas mass shooting: In October, Wellington sisters Lulu and Lauren Farina described escaping the carnage of the Las Vegas mass shooting in the back of a pickup truck piled with bleeding victims. Lulu pulled Lauren, who was using a wheelchair due to an earlier injury, to the ground, then two strangers helped carry her a mile, where they grabbed a ride to safety. One man took off his flip-flips and put them on Lauren’s bare feet.