Murder suspect used iPhone attached to car to track man he saw making pricy purchases, police say

Fatal shooting occurred at Thornton Park party

Derrick Maurice Herlong, 37, was Monday arrested and is facing several charges: first-degree murder with a gun, home invasion robbery with a gun, carjacking with a gun and grand theft.
Derrick Maurice Herlong, 37, was Monday arrested and is facing several charges: first-degree murder with a gun, home invasion robbery with a gun, carjacking with a gun and grand theft. (WKMG)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A murder suspect saw a man buying expensive items at Mall at Millennia and attached an iPhone to the victim’s car so he could track and rob him, according to the Orlando Police Department.

An 11-page arrest warrant was released Thursday detailing how police came to identify Derrick Maurice Herlong as a suspect in the shooting death of 32-year-old Jacaris Rozier, who was killed at a party on North Hyer Avenue in the Thornton Park area on Feb. 19.

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Though Rozier was the one killed, police said they believe Herlong was actually targeting another man who was also at the party.

That man said that earlier in the day he’d gone to Mall at Millennia and purchased expensive items at Gucci and Louis Vuitton. After his shopping trip, he put his purchases in his trunk, drove from the mall to a gas station for a five-minute stop, then went to the party in Thornton Park.

As he was entering the party, two masked men with guns forced their way inside, ordered everyone to the ground and demanded their valuables, according to the report.

Jacaris Rozier was found dead by OPD.

Records show the culprits pointed at the man who had been shopping and demanded the keys to his Lexus while also stealing a Christian Dior bag, a gold chain and a wallet from him.

Police said one of the masked men fired a shot during the home invasion, killing Rozier.

Though the culprits took the Lexus with the Mall at Millennia purchases inside of it, the vehicle was located a short time later at which time a tow truck driver noticed that a nylon bag with magnets had been affixed to the undercarriage and inside the bag was an iPhone, according to the report.

Police said the phone was nearly fully charged and appeared to have been recently purchased since the only text message on it was an activation message. Detectives determined that it had been placed on the vehicle to be used as a tracking device.

As they investigated, detectives said they determined that Herlong had recently stolen a purse and ID from a woman as she was working at Panda Express and whoever purchased the iPhone used that woman’s stolen identity as the name on the account.

That woman was arrested on a murder charge until authorities located footage that showed her purse and her ID being stolen while she was at work.

Records show investigators were also able to track down surveillance footage from Mall at Millennia that showed Herlong was with another man and a woman at the mall, saw the carjacking victim with his expensive purchases and followed him to the parking lot.

An arrest warrant didn’t provide the names of the man and the woman Herlong was reportedly with at the mall.

Herlong was arrested at his home on Feb. 28 on an unrelated charge and a short time later, a search warrant was executed there.

Police said they found a receipt for an iPhone in the name of the woman whose purse was stolen at Panda Express, the Christian Dior messenger bag the Mall at Millennia victim was wearing at the time of the home invasion and some of the items he’d purchased that day.

Records show Herlong’s Mercedes was also searched and authorities found an AK-47-style rifle that matched the description of the one used in the fatal shooting.

Herlong is facing charges of home invasion robbery with a mask and firearm, first-degree murder with a firearm, carjacking with a firearm and grand theft.