POLK COUNTY, Fla. – On Tuesday, December 29, 2020, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 37-year-old Thomas Lee Simmons of Winter Haven Florida, for Armed Sexual Battery (FL), Armed Robbery (FL), Grand Theft (F3), Dealing in Stolen Property (F2), False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer (M1).
The victim called 911 from the Stay Plus Inn in Haines City. He told detectives he had been communicating with an unknown man, who turned out to be Simmons, on a dating website and had arranged to meet Simmons at the hotel. The meeting did not go as planned.
According to the affidavit, the victim told detectives, “the suspect came into the room, he pulled out a fixed blade knife with a brown handle from a sheath attached to his belt and told the victim to strip naked and lay on the bed. The suspect told the victim that he was with the narcotics unit and he had other officers outside the room. During the encounter the suspect also pretended to talk on a radio to other individuals.”
Simmons then took off his own clothes and sexually battered the victim. After the armed sexual battery, the suspect told the victim that he had “agents” going to the victim’s sister’s house and they were going to “get her as well.” The suspect then robbed the victim of his driver’s license, passport, an iPhone, an Apple Watch, Airpods, and three pair of Air Jordan tennis shoes.
Through investigative means, detectives located Simmons at his girlfriend’s home in Winter Haven. During a search of the home, detectives found the victim’s stolen items, as well as a knife matching the description given by the victim on the front seat of Simmons’s truck. During an interview, Simmons originally gave detectives a false name. He later gave detectives his true identity.
Simmons admitted to meeting someone for sex earlier at the Stay Plus Inn in Haines City. He also admitted to taking the victim’s belongings without permission.
“This was the act of a violent criminal with a criminal history, and the outcome could have been much worse. I encourage anyone using online dating services to be cautious. Meet with strangers in a public place, like a restaurant, and never give out your personal information like your home address until you at least get to know that person better. Another safeguard is to tell a trusted loved one where you are going, and set up a time to check in with that person, just in case,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Simmons was charged with Armed Sexual Battery (FL), Armed Robbery (FL), Grand Theft (F3), Dealing in Stolen Property (F2), False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer (M1), and an Orange Warrant for FTA.
He remains in the Polk County Jail on no bond until a first appearance hearing this afternoon. Simmons’s criminal history includes Florida charges of Petit Theft and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and a North Carolina Assault charge.