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The Justice Files: The search for Jose Ramirez, Pt. 3

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A homicide detective never forgot about the disappearance and death of Mireslaba Ramirez. 

Lt. Norberto Aranda is over the homicide unit at the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office. But in 2002, he was with the Wendover police department and quickly learned about Ramirez.

ln 1998, Mireslaba Ramirez disappeared after traveling from Wendover to Ely, Nevada.  She was with her husband, Jose Ramirez. The couple was on the verge of a divorce.  But Jose Ramirez returned to Wendover and told friends that Mireslaba ran away after they got into an argument.  After that, the husband disappeared too. Numerous searches were conducted but other than a pair of her earrings, she was never found. The case remained open but not solved.

Lt. Aranda later became a deputy with the Tooele County Sheriff’s office in 2007. 

“That’s when I took interest in the case,” said Lt. Aranda. “But I didn’t start looking into it until I was transferred into investigations.”

By then fifteen-years had passed. Mireslaba’s body was discovered in 2010 and with the help of DNA, she was identified the following year. Jose Ramirez was still on the run.

“I found out the case was still open and that’s one of the things I wanted to do was look at the case,” he said.

He said previous investigators faced many challenges including a language barrier. He also said people were afraid of Jose Ramirez family and wouldn’t cooperate. 

“And I believe they really didn’t trust police at that time,” Lt. Aranda said. “Working there for 13-years, I did have a relationship with that community.”

He said the case was never closed but he set out to review it to learn if he could get answers for Mireslaba’s family. 

Jose Ramirez was charged with kidnapping and there was still a warrant for his arrest. But he remains a person of interest in Mireslaba’s death.

“Once she went missing, Jose went missing too, fled to Mexico,” he said. “That’s my understanding.  So, we have never been able to interview him and get his side of the story as far as what took place that night.” 

Ramirez did leave behind a letter in which he denied doing anything wrong with Mireslaba. 

The letter was written on behalf of Ramirez. It was directed to Mireslaba’s parents and he claimed he too was hurting after she ran from the truck during a stop.

He left behind two daughters and a son and reached out to them before disappearing.

“He talked to my sister and he told her he was sorry and to take care of me,” said Jessica Ramirez the middle child.

The two girls were placed in a foster home and their younger brother was adopted. Jessica Ramirez said it was too much for the grandparents to handle.

According to authorities, the remains of Mireslaba were badly decomposed when they were found in 2010. They are still trying to figure out how she died.

“We’re still looking into that,” said Lt. Aranda. “The medical examiner ruled it as suspicious when her body was found in 2010.”

Her daughter claimed a forensics team is retesting the remains to determine if it was a murder and it would confirm her suspicions

“The way her body was left there, there was no way she would have ran there,” said Jessica Ramirez.

Last summer Lt. Aranda distributed a flyer throughout the border communities of Wendover and West Wendover Nevada. The bulletin contained pictures of Miroslaba and Jose Ramirez and police were seeking information about the case. It’s lead to new leads.

“The information we have is that he is in Mexico,” Lt. Aranda said. “That’s where he traveled right after the incident.”

Jessica Ramirez has also learned new information about her father.

“I do know he has some kids and is married now,” she said. “I feel this year might be the year that we finally get justice.”

But still is a long process. Investigators would like to know the cause of death and that could determine what, if any charges Jose Ramirez could be facing.

Lt. Aranda said he is working with the attorney general’s office to learn more about filing for extradition. Once that’s approved, it will be forwarded to Mexican authorities.

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