Derlyn Roberts arrived to the Tampa Police press conference as they prepared to announce the capture of alleged serial killer, Howell Donaldson III. Roberts told Tampa Police Department spokesman Steve Hegarty that she was there to provide the sign language interpretation at the November 28th news conference. Hegarty assumed that someone else at the department called the service it uses for interpreters and he never checked her out. That was a big mistake.
Here’s What Happened:
The Tampa Police Department was happy to announce that they captured alleged serial killer, Howell Donaldson III, who allegedly murdered 4 innocent people in the Seminole Heights community. After the big arrest was made on November 28th, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan prepared to inform the public of the arrest and sign language interpreter Derlyn Roberts stood by his side to communicate the news to the deaf community. However, as Roberts began to sign the deaf community was still in the dark as she was allegedly signing gibberish.
While Chief Dugan didn’t realize what Roberts was saying as he spoke about the capture of a serial killer suspect, however, those in the deaf community could tell the interpreter wasn’t making any sense. As the chief was providing a timeline of the four shootings, and describing how his agency had received some 5,000 tips before arresting the 24-year-old suspect, Roberts appeared to be attempting to signing Dugan’s statement. Making no sense, Roberts signed the following:
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.
TPD Spokesman Steve Hegarty admitted that he dropped the ball.
From what I understand, she knows enough about sign language that she was able to fake it, TPD Spokesman Steve Hegarty told WTSP in a Monday report. But it was not accurate, and it was not clear, and that’s a disservice to the deaf community.
Rachell Settambrino, who teaches American Sign Language at the University of South Florida, told the Tampa Bay Times that she was hurt and disappointed that the police didn’t thoroughly check Roberts’ credentials.
She sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells … I was disappointed, confused, upset and really want to know why the city of Tampa’s chief of police, who is responsible for my safety … did not check her out.
The Tampa Police Department is still puzzled as to how Roberts knew to show up for the press conference. In addition, they can’t understand why she would want to impersonate a sign language interpreter. It appears that Roberts has a history of committing fraud. State records reviewed by DailyMail show that 53-year-old Roberts, who also goes by the name Derlyn Glover, served a five-year prison sentence on a felony fraud conviction and was released in April of 2016. She also has prior convictions for grand theft and burglary.
Believe it or not, police officers stated what Roberts did wasn’t a crime. However, it was hurtful and indeed an ethical violation.