Big Pine Key, FL (WBBH) — A Florida man was arrested eight years after the murder of another man in a camp ground in the Florida Keys.
A cold case has come to a close after nearly a decade, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Hugh Timothy Blanton, 54, was arrested Friday for the murder of Ronald “Ronnie” Silvia in 2012.
Silvia was 65 years old when his body was found in a burning camper at the Seahorse Campground in January 2012.
Investigators determined the fire had been started on Silvia’s genital area after he had already died. Autopsy results showed Silvia had been beaten and strangled to death beforehand.
Neighbors reported Blanton and Silvia were arguing over Silvia sharing a picture of Blanton’s genitals before the murder, deputies say.
Blanton was arrested about a month after the murder while hitchhiking in Broward County where he was interviewed by Monroe County detectives about the murder.
Blanton admitted to being angry with Silvia about the picture but said they were in a platonic relationship and said Silvia was alive when he left. Neighbors told detectives they suspected the two were romantically involved.
He also admitted to using Silvia’s cell phone after the fire and had two phones with him when he was booked into the Broward County jail on an unrelated charge out of Massachusetts.
Detectives believed one of the phones was Silvia’s but when Blanton was extradited to Massachusetts the phones were thrown away and never recovered, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
The case went cold until May 2020 when detectives reexamined the case testing Blanton’s DNA against the DNA found under Silvia’s fingernails and determined a match.
Blanton was in prison in Volusia County, Florida on domestic battery offenses at the time. Detectives reinterviewed Blanton who now denied ever knowing Silvia or having been to the Florida Keys.
A warrant was issued for Blanton’s arrest and he is expected to be transferred to the Keys where he will faces charges of murder and Arson.