An investigation conducted by Fredericktown Police Officer Jason Fitzwater which took place during his tenure as a Manatee County Florida Detective will appear on the Investigation Discovery channel television series “I Almost Got Away With It” this spring.
Fitzwater worked the case of Roy Neil Betts in March of 2006. At that time he was assigned to the Criminal Investigative Division of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
According to sworn affidavits, Betts and four other individuals were involved in a string of burglaries totaling over $110,000 in Manatee County, Fla. that spring.
March 20, 2006 at 2:05 p.m., two homeowners returned home to catch an unknown white male in their home. The white male fled, but the homeowners realized several guns and ammunition were missing. Ten minutes later, deputies heard shots in the area of a mobile home park where a patrol deputy reported seeing a man matching the suspect’s description.
The suspect, later identified as Betts, had knocked on a resident’s door and asked for a ride out of the area. When the man refused, Betts shot him. The victim was able to close the door in time to avoid additional fire from the weapon of Betts.
Betts then broke out the window in another home and pointed a gun at the homeowner who called 911. Betts then ran south where he found a Ford F-150 pickup with the keys in the ignition. He stole the vehicle and fled.
Fitzwater remembered reading a news story where a man by the name of Betts had been involved in a string of burglaries in the area. He asked a Detective to compose a photo lineup with Betts photo in it and meet him at the hospital where the shooting victim was.
“I explained to him that we had a line-up with a possible suspect and if any of the suspects looked familiar to let me know,” said Fitzwater. “I placed the line-up on his lap and soon as he looked at it he identified Betts.”
An arrest warrant was issued for Betts on the charge of attempted murder. A statewide B.O.L.O (Be On The Lookout) for him and the truck was issued and four days later he was arrested in Seminole County, Fla. in a rest area on Interstate 4.
“Betts was a lifelong criminal who would have gotten caught eventually,” Fitzwater said. “He was involved in all kinds of (criminal activity); it was just a matter of time.”
Betts confessed to all of the crimes which occurred that day.