Wimauma dad shares grief after daughter murdered in New Mexico

Hillsborough County

RUSKIN, Fla. (WFLA) – Little Harbor in Ruskin was a place 6-year-old Ariana Jade Romeo loved to watch sunsets. She would sit on the seawall and stare into the sky, delighted by the vibrant colors she saw in each Florida sunset.

Her father is hoping to bring her here, back home, one final time.

Joseph Romeo says he’ll never forget the phone call he received Aug. 12. He couldn’t believe what he heard.  

He still remembers exactly what he said. 

“What are you talking about?” he recalled.

Then, came the words that made the Wimauma dad fall to his knees.

“Somebody killed her.”

As the father shared his story with us, his eyes filled with tears. He lowered his head, his hands folded tightly as he sighed.  

“We weren’t even on the phone for two minutes when we hung up. We didn’t believe it,” he said.

He began sobbing that day on his lanai, his fiance, Ann, by his side.

They cried together.  

Joseph was told his little girl was gone. Her body was discovered, police say, lifeless inside her New Mexico home, just outside of Albuquerque.

“To me, it makes no sense at all. I don’t, I don’t understand,” he said.

The one thing this dad wants more than anything else is to bring his baby girl home to Hillsborough County to give her a proper burial. 

“I actually have a lawyer in New Mexico that’s writing up some papers to hopefully get her over here, so so she can, I want to actually have a funeral over here where her family is,” he told us. 

So far in this case no one has been arrested, although detectives in New Mexico are investigating, looking closely, they say, at the child’s mother.

For now, here at home, this dad wants to remember the good times with Ariana.

He just wishes she was still here.   

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