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Man Suspected in 5 Deaths Arrested

September 25, 2002

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LAKE WORTH, Fla. (AP) _ A man suspected in the deaths of five family members was arrested Tuesday on an unrelated probation violation charge, authorities said.

Charges in the deaths were expected to be filed as early as Wednesday against Michael Roman, 29. Roman was arrested in Orlando on a charge related to his probation for auto theft, said Lake Worth Police Chief William Smith. It was not immediately clear if Roman had a lawyer.

Smith would not say if there were other suspects in the deaths of Roman’s uncle, his uncle’s girlfriend and her three children, including a pregnant woman.

Roman lived at the home where some of the bodies were found. Relatives said he left a note inside saying he was moving away and was sorry about what happened.

The body of Carmen Valentin, 42, was discovered by police early Sunday in a roadway in Lake Worth, south of West Palm Beach. Police originally thought she was the victim of a hit-and-run accident, but later spotted her photo inside the house where her children _ Juan Carlos Valentin, 17, Elizabeth Valentin, 22, and Damaris Valentin, 19, who was eight months pregnant _ were found.

Behind the home, police found the body of Ismael Gomez, 52, inside a tarp-covered truck. Gomez lived in the home and had been Valentin’s boyfriend for eight years.

``One cannot imagine the scope of devastation that this loss has had on family and friends,″ Smith said.

Police have declined to comment about evidence, including the note from Roman. They also have not commented on the cause of death.

``He said he was sorry that happened and that he was going to move,″ said Angel Alicea, Carmen Valentin’s nephew. Alicea said he and other relatives did not know more about the note.

Melvin Alicea, another nephew, said he thought his aunt might have tried to go for help but died before she could get far from the home.

Angel Alicea said Gomez and Carmen Valentin, who were both born in Puerto Rico, met through family in Florida more than eight years ago.

Damaris Valentin, who was just a few weeks away from having her first child, worked with her mother at a nearby hotel. Alicea said relatives became concerned when they learned she didn’t show up for work Saturday night. Juan Carlos Valentin was a senior at Lake Worth High School.

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