Man found guilty of murdering Army veteran, burying her body in canyon

Kwang Chol Joy, shown entering a Santa Ana courtroom Tuesday, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of his roommate, whose body was dumped in a remote canyon.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

An Orange County man has been convicted of killing an Army veteran days shy of her college graduation and then disposing of her body in a canyon.

Kwang Chol Joy, 55, was found guilty Tuesday of killing 36-year-old Maribel Ramos in May 2013, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

At the time, Joy and Ramos lived together in an apartment in Orange. Authorities said Joy got into an argument with Ramos after she told him to move out because he was not paying his rent.


Surveillance video shows Ramos dropping off a rent check at the property manager’s office later that day, according to prosecutors.

Ramos, who served tours in Iraq during her eight years in the Army and was a student at Cal State Fullerton, was reported missing when she failed to show up for a softball game and a veterans’ event where she was scheduled to speak.

Authorities said they later learned that Joy had used a computer at a public library to do Internet searches on the human body decay process. He also logged into Facebook and viewed a post about an awareness walk for Ramos and used a satellite map to zoom in on a location near Santiago Canyon Road and Jackson Ranch Road, authorities said.

Police searched the area that Joy had pinpointed on the map and found the victim’s body in a shallow grave.

The cause of death could not be determined because of decomposition, according to the district attorney’s office.

Joy faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12.

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