Edward Ptarcinski is facing multiple charges after deputies from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) arrested him for trafficking in methamphetamine.
According to the HCSO’s Deputy Public Information Officer (PIO), Michael Terry, on the afternoon of Aug. 14, deputies on patrol in Spring Hill noticed the driver of a silver Nissan Altima with dark windows approach them from behind and swerve at the last second to avoid hitting the HCSO patrol car.
When the deputies tried to conduct a traffic stop on the sedan, the driver, later identified as Ptarcinski, fled south on Sterling Hills Boulevard before stopping in the driveway of a residence on Beaumont Loop in Spring Hill. That location was later identified as Ptarcinski’s home.
“Ptarcinski proceeded to exit the vehicle in an aggressive manner,” Terry said. “Deputies immediately took (him) into custody without further incident.”
The Hernando Sun requested and received video footage recorded by the dash-mounted video camera that was located inside the deputies’ patrol vehicle at the time of the arrest.
That footage depicts the pursuit in which Ptarcinski passes a vehicle to get through the automatic gate to his development. After Ptarcinski parks in the driveway of his house, he exits the sedan. Deputies shout, “Hands up, What the F…Hands up.” They had guns drawn while approaching him to make the arrest.
Afterward, deputies searched Ptarcinski’s car and subsequently found a small bag containing glass pipes that are used to smoke methamphetamine, along with a second bag that contained 14.9 grams of methamphetamine.
According to Online Sunshine, the official internet site of the Florida legislature, under Florida law, possession of 14 grams or more of methamphetamine is a 1st degree felony, punishable by three years in prison and a mandatory $50,000 fine.
According to the video footage, deputies also found a brown canvas backpack during the search.
“Officer,” Ptarcinski said in the video, “That’s not my bag – I just dropped the guy off – I’m not a bad dude, man.”
The camera recorded one of the arresting deputies telling dispatchers that “He (Ptarcinski) acts like I know who he is, but I don’t know who this guy is.” The signs on Ptarcinski’s car about the unsolved murder of his daughter confound the deputy in the video.
Edward Ptarcinski’s daughter, Ariana, is the subject of a prominent death investigation after her death on Christmas Eve, 2021, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide.
The camera also recorded an audio conversation between Ptarcinski and his wife, Judy, who was in the car with him. In that conversation, Ptarcinski denied almost hitting the patrol vehicle.
During that same conversation, his wife asked Ptarcinski what the drugs were doing in his car and if he was holding them for someone else. A short while later, she asks again, and he says, Yeah, my luck, you know.”
Judy Ptarcinski responds, Well, you need to say who.”
“Doesn’t matter who,” said Ed Ptarcinski.
On the basis of field sobriety tests, Ptarcinski did not appear to be under the influence when deputies arrested him for methamphetamine trafficking, fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer without violence, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was taken to the Hernando County Detention Center, where he was freed on a $32,000 bond.
Ptarcinski declined to comment on the arrest except to say that he was in the process of hiring an attorney.
Ariana’s Death and Allegations
According to her family, 18-year-old Ariana Ptarcinski was in her room with her 20-year-old boyfriend, Ramon Durst, on Christmas Eve, 2021, when she sustained a fatal knife wound to her neck. Over 18 months later, the case remains under investigation, and the young woman’s family and friends continue to call on the HCSO for an arrest in connection with the case.
According to Denise Moloney, HCSO media relations manager, the case still remains under investigation by the State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO).
“They want to make sure that the evidence warrants the charges so that a jury won’t throw the case out of court,” Moloney said.
While that SAO probe continues, deputies arrested Ariana’s father, Edward Ptarcinski, 49, on multiple charges.
In the meantime, the arrest sparked controversy on the HCSO Facebook page between the agency and members of the community who have been critical of the HCSO’s handling of the case involving Ariana Ptarcinski’s death.
Some who commented on the page alleged that the agency had “targeted” Ed Ptarcinski because he and his family have spoken out about the way the HCSO and the SAO have handled their daughter’s case in a recent interview with a local reporter and videographer.
“He finally speaks out about his daughter’s murderer has never been arrested, then the next week he is arrested,” said one post.
Others allege that patrolling deputies recognized Ptarcinski as the driver of the Nissan sedan and then “planted” the illegal drugs and related drug paraphernalia in his car in order to arrest him.
In the response, the HCSO posted, “Rest assured, we do not ‘plant’ evidence. We are confident, all the evidence in this case is indisputable.”
In response to the Hernando’s Sun’s request for a comment on the case, HCSO Media Relations Manager Denise Moloney said that the HCSO conducts between 35,000 and 40,000 traffic stops annually, some of which result in the arrest of the driver, passengers, or both for a range of charges including drug possession and trafficking.
Deputies did not target Ptarcinski, and they attempted the traffic stop “as a result of reckless driving,” she said.
“In this particular case, a traffic stop was conducted as a result of reckless driving, which was observed by the deputy, in his rear-view mirror (her italics),” Moloney said. “The driver swerved at the last second, to avoid striking the patrol vehicle.”
“When the deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop, the driver fled, and a short pursuit ensued,” Moloney continued. “The pursuit ended in a driveway on Beaumont Loop, (and) the driver was immediately placed into custody. A search of the vehicle, incident to arrest, revealed glass smoking pipes and 14.9 grams of methamphetamine, which is a trafficking amount (felony).”
The case pertaining to Ed Ptarcinski’s arrest remains pending.
In the meantime, the administrator of the Justice for Ariana Ptarcinski Facebook maintains that the case concerning Ariana’s death also “matters.”
“The focus of the page is dedicated to seeking justice for the murder of Ariana Ptarcinski by raising awareness about the case and asking anyone with information to come forward,” the page administrator said. “It has been 600 days since her devastating murder, and astonishingly, no arrests have transpired in the case, even though her death was declared a homicide – Ariana’s story matters, and she deserves justice.”
According to Hernando County Clerk of Court records, Ed Ptarcinski has had a litany of traffic infractions over the years but no other criminal/felony charges.
The full video recorded by the camera mounted in the HCSO patrol car during the arrest incident may be viewed here (This video contains strong language): https://dl.hernandosheriff.org/index.php/s/mE4Tbi9WJ8i8R2x
Correction: A correction was issued on Aug. 23 pertaining to the statement by Edward Ptarcinski about the patrol vehicle. Originally, the article stated that he admitted to almost hitting the patrol vehicle. However, upon further review of the recording, he actually denied hitting the patrol vehicle. We apologize for the error, as we had a difficult time with audio quality.