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Crystal Skiba booking photo (via Hardee County Sheriff's Office). Background: In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, photo an iPhone displays the apps for Facebook and Messenger. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

‘Flirtatious’ online chat ends in attempted murder, child neglect charges after mom invites man over for hookup

Crystal Skiba booking photo (via Hardee County Sheriff’s Office). Background: In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, photo an iPhone displays the apps for Facebook and Messenger. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

When police in Florida had to search through the squalor of Crystal Skiba’s home, they said the odor was so rank they had to take periodic breaks to catch their breath before they could resume probing the scene for clues about a social media hookup that ended in attempted murder charges for the Zolfo Springs woman.

Skiba, 28, was arrested on April 24 and in addition to the attempted murder charge, she was also slapped with seven felonies and four misdemeanors including shooting into an occupied vehicle, possession of a controlled substance — methamphetamines, namely — kidnapping and false imprisonment, child neglect, contributing to delinquency of a minor, marijuana possession and more, according to an arrest report from the Hardee County Sheriff’s Office.

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    Skiba’s victim, a fellow Floridian who opted not to be identified, told police that he began chatting with the 28-year-old woman via Facebook and the two became “flirtatious” as they discussed work he might have lined up for a “horror production company” he wished to start. Skiba gave him her address and the man told police he came over around 2 p.m. Officers would show up a little more than an hour later.

    Skiba allegedly invited the victim into her home and that’s when he noticed she had two young children. Skiba allegedly hurried them off to another room and shut the door, then led the man into her bedroom. Clutter, he told police, was everywhere. The man said he noticed a black handgun on the bed and thought it was a 9 mm.

    Skiba started “attempting to seduce him and get him sexually aroused” and at one point, the man said Skiba performed oral sex on him, the arrest report said.

    Though he tried to talk about his horror production company business with her, she seemed “disinterested,” he told police.

    Then Skiba straddled him and according to police, she asked the man she had only just met: “You know you can’t leave without paying me, right?”

    The man said he tried to “casually” leave her home but Skiba grabbed the gun. He began to flee, telling her he thought he was being “catfished” and “set-up.” As the man reached the front door, Skiba allegedly “barricaded” it off and attempted to keep it shut. Since there was no doorknob, however, it was stuck slightly ajar.

    The man told police he tried to calm Skiba and told her: “I don’t want no problem with you, please don’t hold me here. I won’t call nobody, I won’t do nothing, please let me leave.”

    Though he managed to squeeze past her and start walking to his car with his hands in the air, he said he heard the Florida woman cock the gun.

    “[Redacted victim name] believed the handgun became ‘jammed’ and had a malfunction. [He] stated the demeanor of the defendant appeared she was mentally fighting with the idea of shooting towards him as she would raise the handgun and then place it back down by her side,” the arrest affidavit states.

    Once the man was in his car, Skiba allegedly held out the gun and yelled “you mother f—–” before firing a round into the man’s vehicle. The man claims he drove backward 100 yards while Skiba unloaded seven rounds toward him, running through her front yard while firing.

    After she was read her Miranda rights, Skiba reportedly told them that she had invited the man to “smoke out” at her home and that all was well until he “insinuated” he wanted to have sex with her. Skiba said she kicked him out but did not recall brandishing a firearm though she did state that she started firing at him as he was attempting to drive away. Skiba claimed the man was shooting at her too and described the firearms he used. But a search of the victim’s trunk and spare tire compartment only turned up two guns that did not match the description and were both fully loaded, appearing to have never been fired, the affidavit said.

    Police say they found two shell casings and one live 9 mm round near where Skiba was standing when the man said she had cocked the gun but it had jammed. Officers also found nonmedical grade marijuana on Skiba.

    The child neglect charges against her are a product of the wretched conditions Skiba’s children, ages 5 and 7, were forced to endure, according to police.

    Odors of cat urine and feces, stale and rotten food and trash and mold and mildew were overpowering, according to the arrest report.

    “The odor within the residence partially interfered with the investigation as law enforcement personnel had to periodically take a break. The living conditions were atrocious with mounds of trash piled into the two rooms to be occupied by the children,” one arresting officer said.

    There was an “infestation of roaches” and each of the children’s rooms contained only cribs unsuitable for either child to sleep in. The mattresses were shredded and a “stench” emanated from them. The kitchen was so full of debris, police said they could not walk it in at all. Bare wires were exposed throughout the house and there was not a morsel of food that was not spoiled or laden with roaches.

    “This affiant has been in law enforcement for greater than 12 years, assisted in multiple search warrants, and has not seen living conditions within a residence containing children worse than this residence,” the officer wrote.

    Skiba’s daughter allegedly told police that she “could not remember the last time she went to school” and said she did not eat breakfast because they “do not have any money and she only eats breakfast when at school.”

    Skiba’s son allegedly said he heard three shots fired while he was in the room with his older sister.

    “Both children were experiencing deterioration and blackening in their gums and teeth and with some missing that is not consistent with juvenile development,” police said.

    Skiba has entered a not guilty plea on April 26 and publicly available court records her arraignment is slated for May 14.

    A public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

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