The captain of the charter boat mated by the man charged this week in last fall’s double murder in Tavernier is “being less than cooperative, and less than forthcoming” about the cocaine that appears to be at the center of the case, says the county’s top cop.
“You’d think that if he wasn’t involved he’d be more cooperative in an investigation into a double murder,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said Wednesday of Rick Rodriguez, who captains the Sea Horse charter boat out of Whale Harbor Marina in Islamorada.
Jeremy Ward Macauley, 33, was arrested Monday and charged with the murders of Tara Rosado, 26, and Carlos Ortiz, 30. The couple was shot dead inside their Cuba Road home on Oct. 15.
Detectives believe the murders are related to an extortion attempt over a large amount of cocaine Macauley found while working as a mate on the Sea Horse.
Ramsay said the drugs were taken aboard the boat “with the captain’s knowledge and brought into shore.”
Rodriguez denied Wednesday knowing about the drugs.
“I don’t know anything about that,” he said when contacted by phone. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about him right now,” he said before hanging up.
But Ramsay said he wants more answers from Rodriguez.
“His involvement in this case still needs to be investigated,” he said.
State Attorney Catherine Vogel would not comment Wednesday when asked if there were pending charges against Rodriguez. Vogel also declined to comment on whether her office will seek the death penalty against Macauley.
Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Macauley late Monday afternoon at the Sea Horse’s slip right after the vessel returned to port, Ramsay said. Rodriguez went below deck when deputies confronted Macauley.
“The captain went right down below deck and did not emerge,” Ramsay said. “He never asked any questions, like ‘why are you arresting my mate.’”
Along with Macauley, deputies also arrested Adrian Demblans, 34, of Key Largo Monday. He was booked on charges of being an accessory after the fact of a capital felony, and dealing in stolen property.
According to Sheriff’s Office detectives, Rosado and Ortiz were killed after Ortiz tried to extort money from Macauley.
Detectives say Macauley was a financial partner of Ortiz’s fledgling tattoo and smoke shop business, “Ink Your Dreamzzz.” Macauley also gave some of the cocaine he found offshore to Ortiz and Demblans.
Ramsay called the cocaine “the root of all the evil.”
“It started out as greed to take the dope,” Ramsay said. “It transpired into double murder.”
Sometime in the summer of 2015, Macauley and Ortiz had a falling out, detectives say. Ortiz threatened to tell the police about the cocaine unless Macauley coughed up more money for the tattoo business, said Deputy Becky Herrin, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.
Detective Vince Weiner said in his report that Demblans drove Macauley to Ortiz’s Cuba Road house on the night of Oct. 15. Cuba Road is near Harry Harris County Park off the ocean side of U.S. 1 at mile marker 92.8.
Macauley went inside the house, while Demblans stayed in the car. A short time later, Macauley emerged from the house and the two men drove off.
The next day around 2 p.m., a next-door neighbor noticed Rosado’s young children – ages 3, 4 and 8 – in the couple’s front yard. The children told the neighbor, Travis Kvadus, that Rosado and Ortiz were inside the home, dead.
Kvadus went in the house and discovered their bodies in the bedroom. They were each shot once in the head.
Ramsay said the murder weapon was a .45 caliber Colt 1911 pistol.
Detectives found the gun in the water about 18 miles north of the crime scene near Ocean Bay Drive Bridge in Key Largo. Ramsay declined to say how detectives knew where to find the gun.
Detectives found Otriz’s cell phone in the water in the same vicinity. Herrin said the phone contained text messages and videos that revealed Ortiz’s attempts to extort money from Macauley.