Florida Middle School Killer, 31, Dies in Prison

Michael Hernandez apparently collapsed, cause of death is not yet known
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 3, 2021 12:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – The teenage killer who lured a friend into a bathroom stall at their suburban Miami middle school 17 years ago and cut his throat has died in prison, the AP reports. Florida Department of Corrections online records show Michael Hernandez, 31, died Thursday. He had been incarcerated at Columbia Correctional Institute, about 50 miles west of Jacksonville. No cause of death was released, but WFOR-TV said Hernandez was seen on video collapsing, and no foul play is suspected. Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the February 2004 murder of Jaime Gough when they were both 14-year-old students at Southwood Middle School in Palmetto Bay, just outside Miami. Hernandez had lured Jaime into a handicapped stall before school with a promise to show him something. He then pulled out a knife, stabbed him more than 40 times and slit his throat. He then hid the knife in a secret compartment in his backpack and went to class.

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The Miami Herald reports the case "shocked South Florida and the nation," and notes that the prosecutor who oversaw Hernandez's sentencing hearing says he never showed any remorse. After Jaime's body was found, a teacher noticed blood on Hernandez and notified police. It was discovered that Hernandez had become fascinated with serial killers, studying them online. He had made a list of people he wanted to slay, including Jaime. Hernandez had planned to kill two friends, but Andre Martin got leery when Hernandez tried to lure him and Jaime into the stall. The bell rang and the three went to class. The next day, Hernandez killed Jaime. He was found guilty in 2008 of first-degree murder after a jury rejected his insanity plea. Jorge Gough, Jaime’s father, says his family often thinks of Jaime, who would be 31. "We miss him, and the big question is: What would he be today?" (Read more Florida stories.)

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