6 Months Since Daughter’s Slaying : Father Will Hold Vigil to Spur Investigaton

Times Staff Writer

Ruben Ramirez gazed at the picture of his teen-age daughter above the fireplace of his Santa Ana home. “There’s my girl,” he said. “I keep asking myself why would anybody want to kill her.”

It will be six months on Wednesday since the mutilated body of Norma Isela Ramirez, 14, was found beside a bike trail in Alona Park, beaten with what Santa Ana police say was a “sharp, heavy instrument.” After identifying his daughter’s body, Ruben Ramirez, 37, said that the weapon must have been a machete.

Just a handful of clues have surfaced since her death May 27, and friends and family say they are frustrated and disappointed about police handling of the case.


Wednesday evening, 50 to 100 people are expected to show their disapproval with a candlelight vigil at the Plaza of the Flags, an area between the Orange County Courthouse and the Santa Ana Police Department.

“We’re going to hold the vigil because we want the police to give it (the investigation) more thrust and interest so they can capture the murderer or murderers of Norma,” Ramirez said. “All they keep telling us is, ‘We’re investigating the case and the case is open.’ It’s going to be six months and they don’t know anything.”

Family and friends, Ramirez said, have raised about $300 toward the fund to hire a private investigator or to offer a reward for information in the case.

Santa Ana police officials maintain that every possible lead in the case has been thoroughly checked. In a statement released Friday, police spokeswoman Maureen Thomas said the investigation remains “active and ongoing and will remain so until such time as the perpetrator, or perpetrators, is identified and arrested.

“Thus far, the two investigators assigned to this tragic and brutal slaying have expended over 500 hours in their efforts to solve the case, and they remain optimistic that the person or persons responsible will ultimately be held to answer for the crime.”

Thomas said police have been in frequent contact with the Ramirez family, but the investigation has been hampered by a lack of physical evidence or witnesses.


Police said Norma had been not been robbed or sexually assaulted. An eighth-grader at Willard Junior High School in Santa Ana, Norma was last seen the night before she was killed, when she reportedly left home without permission.

Her body was finally identified by her father five days later when he read a description of an unidentified body in a local Spanish-language newspaper, El Sol Latino. The editor, Javier de la Fuente, is Norma’s uncle.

“When I saw the description of her in the newspaper and read about the necklaces and rings she was found wearing . . . I was just hit hard,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez says he thinks Norma’s friends know who did it. But, he said: “When I talk to them about my daughter, they tell me, ‘I’m afraid to say anything.’ But I know that they’re going to get them (the killers) because I dream about my daughter and she’s told me that the police are going to get them.”

Ramirez is a musician who sometimes travels with his band throughout the Southwest. He is divorced and has three other children, ages 13 to 16.

“Sometimes when I’m here at home and depressed and nobody is around, I just start talking to her. She tells me who did it. I’m just full of vengeance, and I want to do the same to the person the way they did it to my daughter even if I go to prison. She was such a nice girl.”