South Florida investigators believed David W. Romig’s story was questionable from the start.
When Marion County Sheriff’s officials arrived Jan. 30 at Romig’s house in Dunnellon, Fla., in response to reports of a home invasion, they found Romig’s 64-year-old live-in girlfriend unresponsive, with a gunshot wound to the head. Romig’s girlfriend, Sally Kaufmann-Ruff, was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Romig told investigators at the time that he and Kaufmann-Ruff were sleeping when he was awakened by an intruder. He said his girlfriend was shot after he got into an altercation with the intruder, sheriff’s officials said in a statement Tuesday.
Investigators, who thought details about the front door being locked didn’t add up, had their suspicions about Romig confirmed later that day when Romig accidentally sent text messages to a detective that were meant for his wife.
“I think they are going to arrest me,” the first one said. Then, “Think they are going to arrest,” according to the Ocala Star-Banner.
Romig, 52, was arrested Monday after admitting he might have killed Kaufmann-Ruff during an “out-of-body” experience, sheriff’s officials said. He is charged with second-degree murder, tampering with evidence by staging the crime scene and false reporting of a crime. He is currently being held in the Marion County Jail without bail, officials said.
When investigators arrived at Romig’s house in January, Romig showed deputies a pry-bar on a bench near his front door and a partially smoked cigarette. He said neither of the items were his. Investigators noted that the door appeared to be pried open, as its frame was damaged. Investigators recovered the cigarette, a metal smoking pipe in the front yard and a piece of cloth found in the door frame, which Romig said may have been torn from the intruder’s jacket, the Star-Banner reported.
DNA results would later match the cigarette, pipe and cloth to Romig. It appeared the cloth had been cut with scissors, as the edges looked straight, the Star-Banner reported.
After his house was searched, Romig went to the sheriff’s office for an interview, where he allegedly told detectives a fabricated story. According to the Star-Banner:
He told detectives that he and the victim were asleep in the bedroom when he was awakened by an unknown male leaning over him. He said the suspect covered his mouth with one hand and was wearing a head-mounted flashlight. Romig said he grabbed the suspect’s arms and then he heard a loud noise.
He said he held onto the intruder as he stood up from the bed. He said he and the suspect continued to struggle and they stumbled into the hallway, just outside the bedroom door entrance. Romig said the suspect had a small revolver in his right hand and pushed him, causing him to stumble backward. He said when the suspect pushed him, the suspect fired another round and Romig fell to the floor.
Later that day, Romig texted his wife about someone breaking into his home and killing Kaufmann-Ruff, the Star-Banner reported. He said he was afraid he did something he couldn’t remember.
The nature of Romig’s wife’s relationship with his girlfriend is unclear.
Officials said that in January Romig said that aside from Kaufmann-Ruff’s only child, he was the sole beneficiary listed in her will. Investigators later discovered that in addition to her home and her car, Kauffman-Ruff’s estate included more than $200,000 in liquid assets.
On the day of his arrest, Romig told investigators he often blacked out for periods of time and heard voices, sheriff’s officials said. He said he had an “out-of-body” experience the morning of her death and that he was “wrestling with himself” when the gun went off. He told investigators he staged a home invasion because he had blacked out, officials said.
He is set to appear in court March 20, according to the Star-Banner.