Florida Keys

He found the bodies of a young couple. He was a key witness. Now he’s dead

Carlos Ortiz and Tara Rosado
Carlos Ortiz and Tara Rosado

A key witness in the October 2015 double homicide of a Florida Keys couple related to an extortion attempt over a large cocaine deal is dead.

READ MORE: Two arrested in murder of couple

Attorneys on both sides of the case have declined to comment on how and or if the development will impact the prosecution of Jeremy Macauley, the 34-year-old Key Largo man accused of gunning down Tara Rosado, 26, and Carlos Ortiz, 30, on Oct. 15, 2015, inside the couple’s Cuba Road house in Tavernier.

“We don't comment on open cases,” said Mike Edmonson, spokesman for the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case on behalf of Monroe County because of a local conflict of interest.

Next-door neighbor Travis Kvadus, 35, discovered the bodies after becoming concerned about Rosado’s three young children, who were outside in the front yard around 2 p.m. Oct. 16. Kvadus asked them where their mother and Ortiz were, and the oldest responded they were dead inside. Police say the murders happened about 10 p.m., meaning the children were alone with the bodies for at least 15 hours before Kvadus found them and called the 911.

He’s one of 40 people subpoenaed to be a witness during Macauley’s trial, which is tentatively scheduled for July. But he died Saturday. Deputy Becky Herrin, media relations officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said no foul play is suspected. The county medical examiner has not determined a cause of death.

His family declined comment.

The case is one of the most significant crimes to happen in Monroe County in recent years, not only because of the double homicide, but because it revolves around the Keys charter fishing boat community and more than a dozen kilos of cocaine prosecutors say were found offshore by a local charter vessel — a boat on which Macauely worked as a mate the summer before the murders.

According to the state’s case, Macauley killed Ortiz because he threatened repeatedly via cell phone text messages to tell the police about the cocaine, which Macauley and several friends segmented and sold. Ortiz said he’d stay silent if Macauley gave him money. Ortiz and Rosado, who was likely killed because she witnessed her boyfriend’s murder, were both shot once in the head with a .45-calber handgun.

Prosecutors say Macauley was driven to the scene of the crime by Adrian Demblans, 35, who was arrested and charged with accessory after the fact of the murders in March 2016. Demblans pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He faced 30 if the case went to trial. In exchange for his guilty plea, Demblans agreed to testify against Macauley.

David Goodhue: 305-440-3204

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