The captain of a charter boat mated by the lead suspect in October's double homicide in Tavernier transferred ownership of a vessel in 2013 to the other suspect in the murders.
The business transaction shows the captain of the Islamorada-based vessel that brought in a haul of cocaine found offshore last summer knew each of the suspects charged in the slayings of Tara Rosado, 26, and Carlos Ortiz, 30. The drugs are at the center of the case, and Monroe County's sheriff said the captain's lack of cooperation in the investigation leaves little doubt he knew the contraband was brought back to shore on his boat.
According to state records confirmed by The Reporter/Keynoter, Richard Rodriguez, who captains the Sea Horse charter boat out of the Whale Harbor Marina in Islamorada, transferred ownership of what was then the Tag 'Em charter boat to Adrian Demblans in October 2013.
Rodriguez bought the boat from an auction at Whale Harbor, according to two sources with knowledge of the transaction. The boat was previously captained by Gregory Pope.
"It went from Pope to Rodriguez to Adrian," said a well-placed charter-boat industry source.
The transfer of ownership between Rodriguez and Demblans matched state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records checked by The Reporter/Keynoter.
Demblans, 34, renamed the boat the Reel G and used it to run charter fishing trips from Whale Harbor. It's not clear how much money Demblans paid Rodriguez for the boat. The 36-foot vessel is now docked at the marina behind the Old Tavernier Restaurant & Lounge on the ocean side of the Old Highway at mile marker 90.3. Much of the equipment and furniture has been torn out.
Rodriguez hung up the phone when a reporter called him Tuesday with questions about his relationship with Demblans. He also did not return an e-mail asking him about the transfer of ownership of the vessel.
Sheriff Rick Ramsay said he suspects Rodriguez knows about a large amount of cocaine found offshore last summer that his mate, Jeremy Macauley, brought back to shore while working on the Sea Horse.
"He's not acting like a person who is innocent of the situation," Ramsay said.
Detectives say the drugs were the impetus of the murders of Rosado and Ortiz, who were shot to death in their Cuba Road bedroom on Oct. 15 as Rosado's young children slept in the next room. Macauley was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery on March 28. Sheriff's Office detectives say Macauley was the shooter and Demblans drove him to and from the Rosado/Ortiz home off mile marker 92.8 oceanside.
Demblans is charged with accessory after the fact of a capital felony and is being held in county jail in Key West on a $265,000 bond. Macauley is being held on no bond.
Rosado's three children -- ages 3, 4 and 8 -- were found in the couple's front yard by their next door neighbor, Travis Kvadus, around 2 p.m. the next day. They told him Rosado and Ortiz were dead. Kvadus went inside and found the bodies. Rosado and Ortiz were each shot once in the head from bullets from a Colt .45-caliber 1911 handgun.
According to detectives, Macauley and Ortiz were business partners in Ortiz's fledgling tattoo and smoke shop business, Ink Your Dreamzzz.
Sometime in the summer of 2015, the men had a falling out, and Ortiz demanded Macauley pump more money into the business, detectives say. If not, Ortiz said he would go to the police and tell them about the cocaine Macauley found.
"This went from being business partners to extortion to 'I'm going to kill him to shut him up,' " Ramsay said.
Ramsay maintains Rodriguez is not "an innocent bystander" in what ultimately led to murder -- the drugs found offshore.
"He's up to his eye in knowledge of the illegal activity that started this," Ramsay said Tuesday. "If it had not been for the cocaine brought on board, there never would have been a double murder, and those kids would still have their mother."