PALMETTO BAY, Fla. – The parents of a boy brutally stabbed in a bathroom stall 17 years ago at a Palmetto Bay middle school reacted Sunday after learning that the man serving a life sentence for the murder has died in jail.
Michael Hernandez was 14 years old in 2004 when prosecutors said he lured Jaime Gough, his classmate, into a bathroom at Southwood Middle School. He then stabbed the boy more than 40 times and slit his throat.
Hernandez told police that he stashed the knife in a hidden compartment of his backpack and proceeded to class.
He was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2008 and sentenced to life behind bars.
The Goughs said the news of Hernandez’s passing was unexpected, but it did not bring them peace.
“That was very shocking for us,” said Jorge Gough, the father of Jaime. “We were not expecting that at all. We’ve been hurt. We don’t want to see anyone die or hurt like that. Even though we went through what we went through, we were not happy to hear that Michael Hernandez was dead in jail.”
Maria Gough, Jaimie’s mother, said she reacted with tears.
“I couldn’t stop crying, it was very sad,” she said.
Gough would have been 32 years old if he were still alive.
Maria Gough said she still thinks of her son every day.
“I have hope in my mind, my heart, that I’m gonna see him one day and that’s my strength,” she said.
George and Aura Alvarado had children at Southwood Middle with both Hernandez and Gough. The couple knows both families.
“I remember it like it was today, the commotion,” said Aura. “Everybody was concerned and sad that something like that happened in the school.”
Miami-Dade’s State Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, reacted to the news of Hernandez’s death.
“Jamie Gough’s brutal murder ended a promising young life and forever scarred his family. For them, this news still must tear at their hearts,” said Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County.
Fernandez Rundle said that she also grieved for the family of Michael Hernandez.
“I have always felt that Michael Hernandez’s family were also Michael’s victims. Upon his conviction, Michael Hernandez’s family was also scarred by Michael’s actions. My sympathies to both families,” Fernandez Rundle wrote in a statement.
Hernandez was re-sentenced in 2016 when the Supreme Court banned life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder.
After returning to court and going through the chilling details of the case once again, a judge discovered evidence of his interest in things like serial killers.
Hernandez was sent back to prison for life. Records show he died on Thursday, April 29, at the Columbia Correctional Institution near Jacksonville.
Details on how Hernandez died have not been released.
He was 31 years old.