Last summer, Windermere police officers and those from neighboring agencies stepped headfirst into the unknown as they responded to a reported double homicide.
Their quick response and display of courage ultimately brought the situation to a safer ending, Windermere Deputy Chief Jennifer Treadwell said.
The town gathered in a small, private ceremony at Family Church Feb. 19 to recognize various law-enforcement officers, 911 dispatchers and victim advocates — honoring their willingness to protect and serve the community that night.
On July 30, 2020, police responded to a call regarding a burglary and battery in Windermere’s gated Lake Crescent Reserve community. The call came from 10-year-old Mason Cardy — who lived at the home with his grandparents — as he hid in a bathroom.
Police said the suspect, 34-year-old Ezekiel Emanuel Hopkins, was confronted by homeowners John and Lisa Savey after he attempted to steal a vehicle. Hopkins attacked and killed both John Savey and his son, James “Jay” Savey. Lisa Savey survived but suffered serious injuries.
Two lives were taken, but the quick response from various local law-enforcement agencies ended the situation before it could get worse. Along with Windermere police, those from the Ocoee, Oakland and Winter Garden police departments assisted, as well as Orange County Sheriff’s deputies.
For months, Windermere Police Chief Dave Ogden had been planning the special recognition and awards ceremony for all who assisted, from officers and deputies to 911 dispatchers, detectives, forensic personnel and victim advocates. Ogden told attendees the small town was rocked to its core that night.
“Immediately and without hesitation, members of the Ocoee Police Department, Oakland Police Department, Winter Garden Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office banded together to work as a team,” Ogden said. “Our dispatchers did a fabulous job keeping calm in the face of this crisis and talked to Mason on 911 to provide valuable information for the responding officers. Officers collaborated to make entry into the residence — no doubt stopping further violence that night — and placing themselves in danger. A rescue was performed, and evil was confronted.
“Forensics teams, homicide investigators and victim’s advocates responded to aid in every way possible,” he said. “Thank you for your partnership and professionalism.”
Ogden and the Windermere Police Department presented dozens of first responders in attendance with awards. The Award of Merit was given to those who depicted excellence while performing their duties. The Chief’s Special Award honored anyone exemplifying exceptional service to the Windermere Police Department or the community at large.
“We also honor Lisa and Mason, whose faith and courage in the face of tremendous adversity has allowed their light to shine for others,” Treadwell said. “We pledge to walk alongside you and your tremendous grief, and to honor your loved ones.”
Prior to the awards presentation, Lisa Savey took to the stage and scanned the room, seeing the faces of those she called her heroes.
Through tears, she told them that she and John were high school sweethearts who met when they were 16 and dated for six years. They were two weeks shy of their 39th anniversary when John and Jay Savey were killed.
“John and Jay were easygoing guys that loved to joke around, and they were fiercely loyal to family and friends — and fanatics about Ohio State football,” Lisa Savey said. “We miss them with every breath we take.”
Lisa Savey added that she prayed for each and every person who came to her family’s rescue that night. She said she realized they didn’t know what they were going to find upon their arrival, but they came anyway.
“As I told Chief Ogden and Detective Allen a couple weeks ago, I have no words to describe how I felt when I heard the sound of that police dog’s nails on my tile floor or hearing the officers say, ‘Can we come in?’” Lisa Savey said. “Saying thank you for coming to our house is so inadequate, but on behalf of my family, thank you for coming to my house, and thank you for being my heroes.”
Lisa Savey was presented with a folded flag, and Mason was given a very special memento of his own — a block of 100-year-old heart pine wood from the old Windermere Police Department. Inserted into it were Ogden’s challenge coin and an inscription. The smile on Mason’s face lit up the room as Ogden knelt and explained to him each element of the gift.
“Mason, I have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, and I will teach them, and I will train them to hopefully be as brave as you are,” Town Manager Robert Smith told Mason.