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Man Found Beaten to Death in Harlem Was Robbed, Sources Say

By  Murray Weiss Julie  Shapiro and Ben Fractenberg | January 29, 2013 4:18pm | Updated on January 29, 2013 7:37pm

HARLEM — Police believe the man who was found dead in his Harlem apartment Monday was robbed, sources said.

Charles Romo, 48, was discovered tied up and beaten to death in his second-floor apartment at 87 Hamilton Place near West 141st Street Monday morning, according to police.

Police are eyeing robbery as the motive in Romo's death, based on surveillance footage of two men leaving the building carrying a plastic bag, sources said. Investigators are searching for the men and are also examining Romo's home to see if money or valuables are missing, sources said.

Police believe the suspect or suspects were acquaintances of Romo's, whom Romo voluntarily allowed into the apartment, sources added.

Romo was found kneeling against his bed wearing only his underwear, with his hands and feet tied and with tape around his neck, according to sources. Contrary to initial reports, no bag was found over Romo's head, sources said.

"It's very devastating, very shocking," said Diane Stiles, who worked with Romo at the nonprofit All Stars Project, where he volunteered. "It's just senseless and heartbreaking."

Romo suffered 9/11-related post-traumatic stress disorder, Stiles added. Romo's former roommate, John Willet, was killed in the attack, the Daily News reported.

Stiles said Romo's beloved service dog, Ramses II, helped him cope and be active with his volunteer work.

"He was passionate about humanity, fairness," she said of the work Romo did at the organization's Off-Broadway Castillo Theatre, where he helped as a theater manager for the nonprofit, which does leadership development work with underprivileged kids and their families. "He quickly became one of our go-to volunteers."

Stiles added that Romo was preparing to move back to his home state of Texas this week.

"He was about to start a new chapter," she said. "He was very excited."

Police removed Ramses II from Romo's apartment on Monday.