KISSIMMEE, Fla. — An 85-year-old Polk County man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 90-year-old common-law wife.
Just before 6 p.m. on Monday, deputies were dispatched for a "suspicious person" standing in the middle of the roadway at Marigold Avenue and Bell Tower Crossing in Poinciana.
Authorities say they found Jose Tavera with blood on his hands and shirt. According to investigators, Tavera couldn't tell deputies where he lived and was not making sense.
Tavera was taken to the hospital, and deputies went to his home on Martin Lane near Kissimme. There, they found the garage door up and a door partially open. Deputies say they called out but nobody answered. They went inside and found Hilda Roman dead in the master bedroom. She was wearing a nightgown and lying on her back with a wooden side table on top of her, according to law enforcement.
"She had bruising and lacerations consistent with being beaten," The Polk County Sheriff's Office wrote in an email.
Detectives said there were no signs of forced entry. According to law enforcement, Tavera and Roman weren't legally married but had lived together for more than 60 years.
Authorities say they found dried blood under Tavera's fingernails, and he seemed to be shaken up and upset.
"During the interview, Jose told detectives he was not under the influence of any medications, was healthy, and that he knew what day it was," deputies wrote in a news release. "He said he didn't have a home and just walked the streets. He also said he did not have a phone or a car. He said he did not know Hilda Roman. When he was asked what was on his fingernails, he said it was paint and explained a guy called him to do a painting job in Orlando."
Deputies say when pressed about what phone the guy called him on regarding the paint job, Tavera changed his story and claimed to have run into the man on the street.
"Jose could not provide any further details regarding the painting job," deputies explained. "Jose was shown photographs of Hilda and the residence located on Martin Lane in Kissimmee - he said he had never seen Hilda before and he did not know the residence. Jose then said that detectives were trying to accuse him of something happening at that residence. When asked what detectives were trying to accuse him of he said, 'I'm not a murderer.'"
At that point, investigators claim Tavera stopped answering questions. He was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail. He has since been Baker Acted and taken to a local medical facility.
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