a man in a gray shirt is looking at the camera
Jeremy Macauley faces two life sentences for the 2015 murders of Tara Rosado and Carlos Ortiz in Tavernier. MCSO/Contributed

Jeremy Ward Macauley has a new set of guilty verdicts for a 2015 double murder in Tavernier that revolved around the large haul of cocaine he found while working on a fishing boat crew. 

A Monroe County jury on May 14 found Macauley guilty of two counts of first-degree murder after a seven-day trial. 

The jury deliberated for about 10 hours over two days before announcing their decision on May 14 that Macauley had gunned down Tara Rosado, 26, and Carlos Ortiz, 30, while Rosado’s three children were in the home. 

It was a repeat of the state’s original trial against Macauley, who in 2017 was found guilty as charged and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, plus an additional 30 years for robbery with a firearm. 

In 2020, an appellate court reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial, after finding that evidence of another person confessing to a fellow inmate that he committed the murders was excluded from the first trial. 

Macauley’s sentencing is set for 11 a.m. June 4 in front of Judge Luis Garcia at the county courthouse on Plantation Key. 

In Florida, a first-degree murder conviction means mandatory life in prison. Macauley, once again, will leave the courtroom with two consecutive life sentences. 

“He’s a danger to the community,”  said Florida Keys prosecutor Joseph Mansfield of Macauley. “We’re better off with him being in prison for the rest of his life.” 

Only Macauley was charged with the murders. 

Adrian Demblans, 42, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and agreed to testify against Macauley, saying he was only giving Macauley a ride to Ortiz’s home that night and had no idea anyone would end up shot. 

Demblans was released in January 2023 after serving eight years of his 10-year sentence. 

Macauley, a Tampa-born fisherman living in Key Largo, was arrested for the murders in March 2016. He’d been selling off the cocaine at the time of the murders. 

Ortiz, who had used and sold heroin, owed money to a Keys dealer and told Macauley he’d call the police on him unless he brought him cash and drugs, according to court documents.

“No matter what anybody thinks of Mr. Oritz, it doesn’t excuse or give a license for (Macauley) to take a life,” said Reid Scott, then a state prosecutor for Palm Beach County, at Macauley’s original sentencing hearing on Dec. 19, 2017. 

Rosado, he said, was doing nothing more that night than being at her home with her young children and Ortiz.

“She was executed simply because she happened to be in that bedroom,” Scott said. 

Ortiz and Rosado were found the next afternoon after they were murdered, after her children were seen outside the home telling neighbors their parents were dead. 

Rosado and Ortiz, who were unarmed, were both shot in the head. 

Rosado tried to see the best even in the most troubled people, her family wrote in a statement read to the court in 2017. 

“She would more than likely even forgive you,” Rosado’s brother said. “In her memory, I will try my best to do the same some day.” 

Gwen Filosa
Gwen Filosa is The Keys Weekly’s Digital Editor, and has covered Key West news, culture and assorted oddities since she moved to the island in 2011. She was previously a reporter for the Miami Herald and WLRN public radio. Before moving to the Keys, Gwen was in New Orleans for a decade, covering criminal courts for The Times-Picayune. In 2006, the paper’s staff won the Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and the Public Service Medal for their coverage of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She remains a devout Saints fan. She has a side hustle as a standup comedian, and has been a regular at Comedy Key West since 2017. She is also an acclaimed dogsitter, professional Bingo caller and a dedicated Wilco fan.