ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A man was arrested Thursday in connection with the November death of his girlfriend, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said.
Ronald Caruso, 67, was booked into the St. Johns County jail on one count of first-degree homicide, online jail records show.
The Sheriff's Office said Tracey Roof, 62, was found dead about 2 a.m. Nov. 22 inside the couple's home on Newpark Court in the Heritage Park neighborhood, near St. Augustine High School.
According to an arrest warrant, Roof called 911 the night of Nov. 21, saying her boyfriend was having a heart attack, which prompted paramedics to rush to her house. But investigators said during the 911 call, Caruso could be heard in the background and sounded intoxicated as he called Roof a derogatory name.
When paramedics arrived, according to the warrant, Roof appeared battered and bruised, and they asked her if she needed law enforcement assistance. She declined and paramedics helped Caruso get into bed to go to sleep.
The warrant goes on to say that four hours later, Caruso called 911 and told dispatch his girlfriend was unresponsive and not breathing. Deputies said they found Roof dead on the floor of the master bedroom. Deputies said they noticed the room appeared disheveled and that Roof had visible bruises on her body consistent with being battered.
According to the warrant, a search of the home revealed bloodstains in the carpet and a broken picture frame with blood on it. Deputies said the frame appeared to have been hastily thrown into a closet. They also said Caruso had fresh fingernail scratches on his side and that Caruso could not explain how he got those scratches. Deputies said Caruso told them that he and his girlfriend were the only two people in the house, but denied knowing how she died.
Deputies said an autopsy by the district medical examiner found that Roof died from multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.
Detectives said they obtained the arrest warrant for Caruso on Thursday and took him into custody at his home.
"I'm really surprised because he was a really great guy. He was a figure in our neighborhood. We always saw him around. He had a loving, calm demeanor," neighbor Shiloh Pelchat said. "He's always out walking the dog. He's very kind."
Caruso was ordered held without bond at a first-appearance hearing Friday morning.