Sign-Language Interpreter at Serial Killer Press Conference Was Imposter, Police Say

Henrietta Strickland
December 6, 2017

Law enforcement officials delivered breaking news last week on the status of a serial killer in Tampa, Fla., but the deaf or hearing impaired were reportedly unable to follow along thanks to a bumbling interpreter.

She stood to the right of Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan as he announced the arrest of Howell Donaldson III.

According to Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty, law enforcement officials did not request an interpreter for the news conference, which started around 11 p.m. November 28.

"She was standing there twisting her hands back and forth".

Monica Hoffa's mother, whose daughter was one of the victims, was at the presser relying on that interpreter. Usually, department officials use a local service.

A Tampa Police spokesperson says he doesn't know why Roberts posed as an interpreter.

"I allowed her to do it, I didn't ask enough questions", he said. "We want to know how she found out about it, if someone hired her to come to the conference".

"We've reached out to [Roberts]", McGregor said, but the woman has not contacted authorities.

"As we were getting ready to start, I was told that a sign language interpreter was outside", Hegarty told the Miami Herald.

"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", was one of the things she signed, Ms Settambrino said.

While Robertss attempts to communicate Dugans news may have caused more confusion than understanding, its not the first time an interpreter was subject of more chatter than the news itself.

Steve Hegarty, a spokesman for the police department, said he was not informed the interpreter was coming in advance.

Settambrino is deaf and teaches American Sign Language at the University of South Florida.

In September, with Hurricane Irma heading for the state, Manatee County used an interpreter who signed the words "pizza", "bear" and "monster".

As world leaders paid homage to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service in 2013, the man standing at arms length from them appeared to interpret their words in sign language.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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