Hearing-impaired people tuning into a news conference in Tampa, Florida got a message of gibberish from an American Sign Language interpreter.
On Nov. 28, Derlyn Roberts appeared beside Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan as he announced the arrest of suspected Tampa serial killer Howell Donaldson III, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The police Chief had been explaining a timeline of the four murders in the Seminole Heights neighborhood and what led to the suspect’s arrest, but Derlyn Roberts delivered a very different message.
“Fifty-one hours ago, zero 12 22 (indecipherable) murder three minutes in 14 weeks ago in old (indecipherable) murder four five 55,000 plea 10 arrest murder bush (indecipherable) three age 24,” Rachelle Settambrino, an ASL teacher at the University of South Florida, interpreted what Roberts had signed at the press conference.
“She sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells,” Settamrbino added.
It is not known how Roberts knew of the press conference. According to Tampa Police Department spokeperson Janelle McGregor, TPD did not request an interpreter for the conference and TPD is currently conducting an internal review to determine who sent Roberts to the press conference.
At the press conference the following day, Ben Zapata, a different interpreter, stood beside the police Chief.
While Roberts’ actions weren’t illegal, police did claim that it was unethical. It may not be the first time that Roberts has done something unethical, either. A person with Roberts’ same name and age has a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions of fraud over $50,000 and fraudulent use of personal information, though it has not been confirmed if the criminal record belongs to Roberts or another person.
Roberts could not be reached for comment.