The creator of a new Facebook page is hoping that it will call continued attention to an incident that has beleaguered the community and been under investigation by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) for a year and a half.
“Our main goal for this page is to raise awareness and to encourage anyone with information that may help the case report tips to Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and, ideally, bring justice for Ariana and her family and friends,” said the page creator, who asked to remain anonymous.
According to her father, Spring Hill resident Ed Ptarcinski, on Christmas Eve 2021, 18-year-old Ariana Ptarcinski and her boyfriend of several months, 20-year-old Ramon Durst, were in her room after spending the evening with her family.
Around midnight, Ptarcinski and his wife Judy retired to the master bedroom. When he got up to use the restroom, he saw the entry door of their bedroom open and Durst holding Ariana by the hair, saying, “I did this.”
“Her jugular vein had been severed, and she was bleeding out,” he told the Hernando Sun. “I could see her eyes saying, ‘Dad help me.’”
Ptarcinski said that deputies from the HCSO arrived on the scene and interviewed the family, including Ariana’s 12-year-old sister. Also at the scene were members of the HCSO forensics team who, according to Ptarcinski, left behind critical evidence, including Durst’s driver’s license, a pair of knives, and a bedsheet allegedly bearing Durst’s bloody handprint.
HCSO Media Relations Coordinator Denise Moloney maintained that the evidence connected to the case was processed correctly. She also said that the case was under investigation by the State Attorney’s Office (SAO). As of June 1, the case remains with the SAO, Moloney said.
“I have no idea how long that (investigation) is going to take,” she said.
Still, members of the community want more answers. According to the creator of the Facebook page, as of June 1, more than 49,000 people have seen the page, more than 870 have liked, commented, or shared its postings, and more than 230 visitors have followed the page.
In addition, more than 630 visitors have clicked on posted links to articles concerning the case.
“We have had visitors commenting and tagging reporters, news outlets, podcast channels, and true crime enthusiasts,” the page’s creator said. “The comment section on our page is brimming with passionate voices seeking deeper insights into the case and eagerly inquiring about ways to actively contribute and make a difference – it’s awe-inspiring.”
While that case remains pending, HCSO’s progress on a murder case that began in February of this year continues to frustrate members of the South Brooksville community. On Feb. 8, the HCSO announced that Isabella Scavelli, a 17-year-old student at Hernando High School, had died from the wounds she sustained in a double-shooting incident in Spring Hill. Details regarding the second shooting victim connected to the case have never been released. During a Feb. 14 press conference, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis announced that “detectives have been working pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we are making some serious progress.”
Meanwhile, rumors have swirled around the case. The Hernando Sun’s Public Records Request for the HCSO’s official report pertaining to the Isabella Scavelli investigation has been denied on the grounds that the agency is still investigating the case.
“It’s an active investigation, and any information is helpful, but we cannot release any information, or it would compromise it (the case),” said the HCSO’s Major Case Unit via Moloney.
Neither would Moloney say if any leads were received via the Hernando County Crime Stoppers tip line or the HCSO’s own tip line.
“Anytime we receive tips, it is helpful, but we will not go into details at this time if any were received in these cases,” Moloney said.
Meanwhile, Brooksville Mayor Blake Bell continues to work on the Brooksville Ad Hoc Committee on Safety and Crime with retired HCSO Deputy Bill Pope, Isabella’s uncle, and pastor at Encouraging Word Ministries church. The citywide task force will study everything from crime trends to traffic patterns around the city and learn how the committee might work with non-profit organizations and church groups to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
While the investigations into both incidents continue, the founder of the Facebook page vows to keep both cases before the public.
“It’s awe-inspiring to witness the outpouring of support as individuals from all walks of life who share a common goal of igniting awareness and delivering long-awaited justice to Ariana, her grieving family, and her friends – we thank you for your support,” the page’s creator said. “ Take a stand by helping us spread the word.”
Anyone with information about either the Ariana Ptarcinski case or the one involving Isabella Scavelli may leave anonymous tips by calling the HCSO tip line at (352) 797-8477 or the Hernando County Crime Stoppers line at 866-990-TIPS. The Crime Stopper phone is a stand-alone instrument that does not provide caller ID. Conversations are not recorded.
The Facebook page connected to the Ariana Ptarcinski case is available by visiting www.facebook.com/justiceforariana. The email connected to the page is [email protected]