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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Gainesville man arrested on suspicion of murdering homeless man

Security footage caught Romanda Thompson stomping, strangling a homeless man

A Gainesville man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of murdering a homeless man at his campsite in Gainesville.

Gainesville Police Department arrested Romanda Thompson, 33, on a charge of first-degree murder for the death of Kelly Robert Byrne. Byrne’s body was discovered about 10 hours after the incident behind a piece of machinery, where his feet were seen sticking out, according to the arrest report.

The entire event was caught on surveillance footage from a nearby Circle K store. At around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, Thompson attacked and incapacitated Byrne at Byrne’s campsite near Northeast 16th Avenue. 

Thompson then dragged Byrne about 50 feet, beat him repeatedly, stomped on his face and strangled him to death, according to the arrest report. 

Officers recognized Thompson in the video because he is a suspect in another GPD homicide investigation. He was found Wednesday afternoon outside his mother’s northwest Gainesville home with blood stains on his shoes.

Thompson made conflicting statements about his location to officers that night. He positively identified himself as the man seen on security video. Thompson also said he recognized the victim from “downtown,” but then denied ever seeing him, according to the police report.

Thompson is being held without bond at the Alachua County Jail. His next hearing isn’t scheduled as of Thursday night. 

Contact Daniel Bednar at Follow him on X @Danielbednar5. 

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Daniel Bednar

Daniel Bednar is a first-year political science major and the Criminal Justice reporter for The Alligator. When he's not writing, you can find him scuba diving in the Keys or flying airplanes. 

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