Polk deputies detectives arrested 85-year-old Jose Tavera, of Kissimmee, (the mailing address is Kissimmee, but the home is on the Polk side of Poinciana) and charged him with first degree murder in the death of his 90-year-old common-law wife, Hilda Roman.
According to Findlaw.com, a common law marriage is one in which the couple lives together for a period of time and holds themselves out to friends, family and the community as "being married," but without ever going through a formal ceremony or getting a marriage license.
The Polk Emergency Communications Center (ECC) received a call around 5:50 a.m. on Monday about a suspicious person standing in the middle of the roadway at Marigold Avenue and Bell Tower Crossing in Poinciana. The person was described as an older male wearing a white T-shirt.
When deputies arrived, they made contact with the man, identified as Tavera. He had blood on his shirt and hands, and could not tell deputies where he lived, and was not making sense, according to a Polk Sheriff’s Office report. While Polk County Fire Rescue took Tavera to a local hospital, deputies went to his home Martin Lane in Kissimmee.
They found the garage door up, and the door leading into the home partially open. Deputies entered the home and found Hilda Roman deceased in the master bedroom. There were no signs of forced entry.
The victim was lying on her back, wearing a nightgown, with obvious trauma on her face, head, arms and wrists, the report stated. There was a wooden side table on top of her. She had bruising and lacerations consistent with being beaten, Polk Sheriff’s Office officials said. According to family members, the couple is not legally married, but have lived together for over 60 years.
Detectives interviewed Tavera and observed dried blood under his fingernails on both hands, and he appeared to be shaken and upset.
During the interview, Tavera told detectives he was not under the influence of any medications, was healthy, and that he knew what day it was. But he said he did not know Hilda Roman.
He told detectives that he did not have a phone or a vehicle. But when he was asked what was on his fingernails, he said it was paint, adding that a guy called him to do a painting job in Orlando. When he was asked what phone he used, he changed his story, and said he met the guy on the street, the report stated. Tavera could not provide any further details regarding the painting job.
He was shown photographs of Roman and the house on Martin Lane in Kissimmee. However, he said he had never seen her before and he did not know anything about the house. Tavera then said that detectives were trying to accuse him of something that occurred at that home.
"I'm not a murderer," he said.
Tavera then stopped responding to questions.
Tavera was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and booked into the Polk County Jail.