If only he’d looked a little more carefully at his phone.
David W. Romig thought he was texting his wife the words, “I think they are going to arrest mw [sic].”
Instead, the message accidentally went to a detective working a murder case. A murder case of someone Romig knew intimately: his live-in girlfriend.
According to a police report, Marion County sheriff’s detectives arrested the 52-year-old Dunnellon resident on Monday. Charges included second-degree murder, tampering with evidence by staging the crime scene and false reporting of a crime
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According to an arrest affadavit, Romig reported a home invasion last month, in an effort to cover up the shooting death of Sally Kaufmann-Ruff, 54.
Investigators found evidence that Romig’s initial testimony was false. His said that an armed person entered the sleeping couple’s home in the wee morning hours of Jan. 30 and that Kaufmann-Ruff had been shot during an altercation between Romig and the intruder who sore a head-mounted flashlight.
Marion sheriff’s forensic technicians processing evidence found a metal smoking pipe in the front yard, a partially smoked cigarette (not the victim’s brand) and a piece of cloth from a jacket on the door frame, which seemed to be pried open. The victim’s boyfriend had told detectives the items came from the intruder, despite his DNA being on both.
Detectives quickly found that more evidence that didn’t match up with Romig’s story. A short time later, he sent the errant text to his estranged wife, Debra Romig.
In an interview with sheriff’s detectives on Monday, Romig had a new story. He described having an “out-of-body” experience and “hearing voices” that morning, saying he felt like he was wrestling with himself. He said the gun went off, fatally shooting his lover in the head. Romig then admitted to staging the crime scene “because he blacked out,” according to the sheriff’s office.
Romig is the sole beneficiary in Kaufmann-Ruff’s will, excluding her only child. The dead woman’s estate included in excess of $200,000 in liquid assets, in addition to her home, car and other physical property.
He is being held in the Marion County Jail on no bond and on a suicide watch. His next hearing is set for March 20.