Editor’s note: The Sun is recapping its top stories of 2012. Look for stories to follow each day, through Dec. 31.
Deaths forever change loved ones. Homicides especially shake families, and sometimes entire communities.
The Aug. 4 shooting of a man outside a Sarasota apartment complex sent one shockwave after another across Southwest Florida.
First, officials released the name of the victim: Sam Presley Dreher II, also known as a lieutenant and 18-year veteran of Charlotte County Fire/EMS.
Deputies found Dreher, 39, on the stairs between the complex’s second and third floors. Standing there, with a gun in his pocket, was a younger man: “I’m sorry. Oh my God, I didn’t mean to kill someone,” he told deputies.
Deputies arrested the 27-year-old Michael L. Minor Jr., a married father.
“Mr. Minor stated he has been dating the victim’s wife, Danielle Dreher, for approximately four years ... He also admitted to spying on Mr. Dreher for the past few months with Danielle Dreher’s assistance in order to gather evidence against him for their pending divorce,” states Minor’s arrest paperwork.
Sam died the following day from the gunshot wounds he sustained at the hands of his wife’s lover, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.
Minor ultimately has been charged with first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and armed burglary, in connection with the shooting.
The events surrounding Sam’s death triggered another shockwave as Danielle, 40, worked as a marketing professional for Health Management Associates, which operates 22 hospitals in Florida, including Charlotte, Peace River and Venice regional medical centers.
Danielle and her husband owned a 2,234-square-foot house valued at more than $200,000 in North Port. Court documents signed by Danielle state: “Sam Presley Dreher and Danielle K. Dreher were continuously married without an intervening divorce.”
The criminal charges didn’t end with Minor.
On Nov. 28, Danielle and Minor were arrested for their involvement in a July 18 burglary at the same Sarasota apartment complex, where a female friend of Dreher’s resided. Minor broke in looking for Danielle’s jewelry. Detectives discovered text messages between the two during the burglary.
“Additional text messages between Michael Minor and Danielle Dreher ... indicate that they also spoke on the phone just prior to the burglary to ‘strategize,’” states the report. “This was done after days of planning between Minor and (Danielle) Dreher, and was further made possible as they were able to track the victim’s movements via a GPS tracker that they had attached to her vehicle.
Danielle, who could not be reached for comment, will be arraigned Jan. 4, 2013, on charges of principal to burglary and principal to theft from a dwelling. Danielle is no longer employed by HMA.
The next court appearance for Minor, who since has divorced, is scheduled for Jan. 14, 2013.