A Florida real estate agent with a soft spot for cryptocurrency has been formally charged with murder in the nighttime killings of two homeless men in Miami, the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office confirmed to The Daily Beast.
Willy Suarez Maceo, 25, is suspected of fatally shooting 56-year-old Jerome Antonio Price five times on Dec. 21, 2021, as he slept on a sidewalk in Miami’s Wynwood district. Hours earlier, Maceo allegedly shot another homeless man sleeping in the area. The unidentified man, incredibly, survived a gunshot wound to the head, later telling police he had no idea how he’d gotten injured.
At a press conference on Friday, Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle walked reporters through a step-by-step narration of surveillance footage that allegedly showed Maceo caught in the act.
“I want to applaud the work of the City of Miami Police Department and all of our partners in law enforcement,” Fernandez Rundle said. “Because in this community, we won’t tolerate crimes against the voiceless, the vulnerable, the homeless.”
Ballistics tests linked 9mm shell casings found at both crime scenes, and closed-circuit cameras captured the license plate of a black Dodge Charger seen near where Price was gunned down. Detectives ran the plate, which showed the vehicle was registered to Maceo, according to authorities.
“This was a key break to start stripping the anonymity away from this alleged mystery killer,” Fernandez Rundle said Friday.
When cops arrested Maceo on Christmas Eve in the suburb of Kendall, they reportedly found a 9mm Glock handgun on him. A new set of ballistics tests determined Maceo’s weapon was used in both shootings, Miami-Dade PD Interim Chief Manuel Morales said in December.
On Friday, Fernandez Rundle showed bodycam video from the arrest, in which a Glock could clearly be seen tucked into Maceo’s waistband.
Morales, who described Maceo as a “suspected serial killer,” said investigators were then able to connect him to a fatal stabbing last October, when 59-year-old Manuel Perez was killed in downtown Miami.
Maceo has been jailed since December on a charge of attempted premeditated murder. At the time, Maceo’s court-appointed lawyer, Kendal Rinko, argued that the video and ballistics evidence obtained by police did not necessarily mean that Maceo was the perpetrator.
“Mr. Maceo is never seen carrying out the shooting,” Rinko told Circuit Court Judge Alberto Milian.
Milian was unconvinced, and denied Maceo bond.
Rinko did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Friday.
More than a year before the December shootings, Maceo’s parents called 911, telling police Maceo suffered from bipolar disorder and was refusing to take his medication. Maceo had been ranting about conspiracy theories and racking the slide of his Glock, the parents said, prompting cops to place Maceo under an involuntary psychiatric hold. Authorities seized Maceo’s gun, but were obligated to return it within 72 hours of his release from the hospital. Now, investigators believe Maceo used the same weapon in both shootings.
Maceo’s broker page has been removed from the Century 21 website as of his arrest. His social media feed is littered with photos of Maceo posing alongside exotic sports cars and in front of sumptuous luxury real estate. The Havana-born Maceo also appears to have an interest in cryptocurrency, posting come-ons to followers about the benefits of investing in risky bets like Shiba Inu coin.
On Twitter, Maceo suggested that he has expertise not only in real estate, but professed to be a pro in “home security services, firearms, surveillance systems, taxes, immigration, public notary, architecture and development, business & corporations structure, stock market and cryptocurrency investment, portfolios, legal referrals and more.”
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez on Friday said that homicides in Miami dropped by 23 percent last year. However, violent crimes targeting people experiencing homelessness have been on the rise more broadly, and the unhoused are more frequently the victims of hate crimes than members of the general population, experts say. In Los Angeles, for example, the homeless are victimized by violent criminals about 40 times each day, according to a report by NBC News.
Miami PD Assistant Chief Armando Aguilar on Friday thanked the bystanders and witnesses who “could have said, ‘Well, that's not my business. I'm going to mind my own business.’ They chose to do the right thing, they chose to summon help for these people that our killer believed very much that society had forgotten.”
As Ron Book, chairman of the Florida Homeless Trust said at the close of the news conference, “Let's be clear—those three individuals, they weren't harming anybody. They weren't doing any harm to anybody.”
Maceo is due to appear in back court on April 14.