Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man Charged in Second Death Fernandina: 18-Year-Old Already in Jail

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man Charged in Second Death Fernandina: 18-Year-Old Already in Jail

Article excerpt

Byline: Derek L. Kinner, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

During the three years police investigated the beating death of 32-year-old Romaine Moss in Fernandina Beach, rumors abounded about who was responsible.

Police said Moss was a "street person" who had an active prostitution business aimed at truckers passing through town.

"There were 15 dozen rumors flying about who did it," said Lt. Jim Coe of the Fernandina Beach Police Department.

Coe said Moss was a lifelong resident of Fernandina Beach, living with her mother, Barbara Moss, and twin sister, Roxanne.

"Everybody knew her. She was harmless," he said.

But no one was coming forward with any facts. And Coe was upset because the kid who found the body wasn't making a lot of sense.

"Through the melee of rumors, I had to start from square one. I was banging my head against the wall because what the kid is telling me doesn't seem right," Coe said.

The kid was David Eugene Johnson, who had turned 15 one month before Moss' death on Aug. 25, 1998. It was Johnson who led police to Moss' body at the end of a trail in a densely vegetated lot in the 400 block of North Fourth Street.

Johnson's answers to questions were inconsistent, but Coe couldn't find anything to corroborate his suspicions.

"There wasn't anybody talking on the streets," Coe said.

Then, in August, Johnson, now 18, was charged with killing Fernandina Beach artist and author Antonia Gerald during an apparent robbery attempt. Gerald was stabbed about a dozen times in her apartment.

During that investigation, Coe began getting more information about Johnson.

"I believe he has a propensity for violence, after looking at his arrest record and a couple of incidents that weren't reported, that would show he has a very volatile temper," Coe said.

And with Johnson's arrest, others began coming forward with more information. …

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