Most Wanted Wednesday: We feature three of SWFL’s most wanted suspects; April 15

Reporter: Rich Kolko
Published: Updated:
Nicole Lawler, Elijia Velez, Austin Verbanac

This weekly WINK News segment features fugitives from justice right here in Southwest Florida.

This is your chance to help out the community and give the tip that gets these people off the street. These suspects need to be found – and you can help. If you have seen them, reach out to Crime Stoppers or your local law enforcement. Call 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).

Here are three suspects wanted by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.

Nicole Lawler

Nicole Lawler (DOB 11/23/95) – wanted in Lee County for violation of probation – aggravated battery on a pregnant victim. This charge stems from a road rage incident in front of a local school. The victim made a u-turn but allowed the other driver to pass by first. Despite her courtesy, deputies say the driver and passenger (Nicole Lawler) flipped the victim off. When they were both stopped at a red light, Lawler got out of the vehicle and approached the victim’s driver-side door and was trying to get her to fight.

The victim said she was pregnant and had no intention of fighting. Crime Stoppers say that response infuriated Lawler who then reached into the car and began punching the pregnant woman. Before the male driver could pull Lawler off, she managed to launch several strikes at the victim’s face. Lawler took off, but a witness and video from the school quickly helped track her down.

In addition to this incident, Lawler also has two other local arrests. She is 5’4”, 130 pounds and was last known to be living in Gateway. And upon her arrest, she will be held without bond.

Elijia Velez

Elijia Velez (DOB 7/1/02) – he currently has four warrants for his arrest in Lee County on burglary, grand theft and weapons charges. Despite his young age, Velez has a violent criminal history and is known to associate with gang members.

He is also listed as a missing person in Charlotte County, where he disappeared from in January. Detectives think he’s bouncing back and forth with “friends” in Cape Coral, Punta Gorda and North Port. He’s also got a history of armed robbery.

Authorities in both Lee and Charlotte Counties are hoping someone can provide a location for him. He is 5’2”, 110 pounds.

Austin Verbanac

Austin Verbanac (DOB 9/27/89) – is wanted for violating probation in Fort Myers for trafficking in stolen property. Verbanac took into his possession several brand new golf carts that he knew were stolen. He then, in turn, posted them on social media for sale for a few hundred bucks, despite the fact that the golf carts were valued at $10,000. A skeptical buyer reported this to law enforcement, and Verbanac was charged accordingly.

He’s been walking on the wrong side of the law most of his life, with his first felony at age 15 for burglary, then at age 16 for grand theft auto. As an adult, he’s been busted for the grand theft of a firearm x 4, evidence tampering, burglary with assault, DUI and hit and run. He’s spent a year in state prison, as well, for burglary.

He has a tattoo of “239” on his left wrist, “cracker” on his left arm, “B Town” on his chest and the names Nikki and Norman on his neck. He is 5’11”, 240 pounds and is a registered convicted felon who was last known to be living in Bonita Springs.

If you have a tip on the whereabouts of any of these wanted suspects contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers. All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000.

Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers
1-800-780-TIPS (8477) or

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