Man accused of strangling cellmate in Sumter County jail

Romeo Lopez-Hernandez, 37, claimed he killed victim to maintain respect from other inmates, investigators say

(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

OCALA, Fla. – A Sumter County man was indicted for first-degree premeditated murder after killing his cellmate in the Coleman Federal Correctional Institution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

A grand jury formally charged 37-year-old Romeo Lopez-Hernandez, of Ocala, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced on Wednesday. If convicted, he faces mandatory life in prison.

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Court records show Lopez-Hernandez was in the Special Housing Unit of Coleman FCI when authorities found his cellmate strangled.

Investigators said they found the victim lying face down and unconscious on his bed with a sheet wrapped around his neck and tied to the bedpost.

Lopez-Hernandez then hid the body behind the bedsheet so correctional officers wouldn’t find the victim until he was dead. He went on to tell investigators he killed the victim to garner respect from other inmates.

A medical examiner’s findings, coupled with a confession from Lopez-Hernandez, led to his eventual murder charge, according to authorities.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.