Phone Call May Have Guided Killer of 3


The last words Jose Martin Ramos was heard to say were directions to his new house--the first his family ever owned--in a phone conversation that may have guided his killer to his door.

Minutes later, the 20-year-old construction worker lay shot to death near the front door, along with two guests who had come to his house for Sunday brunch.

“No one saw what they looked like,” Francisca Acosta, Jose Ramos’ mother, said Monday about the assailants she said came to the front door. “But it doesn’t matter, anyhow. They are not going to revive my son.”

Jose Ramos was killed about noon along with Rosario Ruelas, 25, of Pacoima, and Federico Lopez, 30, of Mira Loma. Ruelas and Lopez were acquaintances of Ramos’ who had visited a few times, but whom the family did not know well, Acosta said.

Police had no suspects Monday. According to investigators, the killings did not appear to be gang-related.


“We are following up on leads, anything [the family] may have told us,” said Lt. Al Moen of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division, which is handling the investigation.

Jose Ramos had lived in the house in the 13800 block of Eustace Street with his mother, his 21-year-old wife, Lupita, who is two months pregnant with the couple’s first child, and his brother Fernando Ramos, 19.

The family came from Guadalajara, Mexico, 10 years ago. By last year, they had saved enough money to buy the modest home in the working-class neighborhood not far from San Fernando High School.

Jose Ramos was a well-liked worker who spent his time at construction sites and at home, family members said. A carport and garage he was adding to the house stand unfinished.

“He was a person who worked day and night,” said his sister-in-law Concepcion Palomares. “The rest of the time he dedicated to his wife.”

Sunday, 10 people gathered at the house for a noontime lunch.

Just minutes before the killing, the phone rang and Jose Ramos told others in the house to let him answer it. He spoke briefly with someone and hung up.

A short time later, according to Fernando Ramos, a man came to the front door, shook Jose Ramos’ hand and talked to him briefly before leaving.

Fernando Ramos also left through the front door, without paying attention to what the man looked like. On his way out, he said, he saw two other men waiting in a car in front of the house, but he paid no attention to them either.

The family and their guests had been in the backyard eating. A few of them heard sounds that resembled those of falling metal, according to family members. No one went immediately to investigate.

About 10 minutes later, Fernando Ramos returned and found the three bodies just inside the house, in the hallway.

“My son said, ‘Mom, what are you doing? They killed Martin,” Francisca Acosta said. “They were all dead.”

The family speculated that the first man came to the door, left, then returned with the other two.

“They came to kill him,” said Carlos Acosta, Jose Ramos’ uncle.

The family criticized news reports that the crime may have been gang-related. “Martin was not a troublemaker,” Palomares said. “We think if somebody did not like him it was because [Martin] defended someone somewhere.”

They said it was not unusual for strangers to stop by the house because the previous owner was a mechanic with a long list of clients who still came looking for him.

Jose Ramos will be buried in Los Angeles later this week, the family said, adding that his boss has volunteered to pay for the funeral.

“That’s how much [his boss] liked him,” Carlos Acosta said. “He knew what kind of person he was.”