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The Justice Files: Growing up without a mother or father

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It was a normal childhood for the Ramirez children until 1998.

In September of 1998, something went wrong at their Wendover home.  It was a life-changing event.

Jessica Ramirez, the middle child of Miroslaba and Jose Ramirez, witnessed a change in her father.  She was seven years old at the time and saw her father become controlling and jealous of his wife.  She claimed her father even took it out on his own brother.

“He held him hostage and put the gun to his head and having me and my sister and my mom watch,” said Jessica Ramires, now an adult with children.

That same year at a casino in West Wendover Nevada, Ramirez was arrested after pistol whipping another man.

Her mother filed for divorce and took the children with her.  They moved closer to their grandparents in Goshen.

But she agreed to go with her husband to Ely Nevada to see a lawyer about his troubles at the casino.  Her mother never returned.

“I remember being scared,” Ramirez said.  “I remember crying for her and asking when she would come back.”

When their mother disappeared, Jessica was seven years old, her sister was nine and a baby brother was one year old. 

Their father did return briefly.  Authorities said he told friends that his wife ran off during an argument.  He then vanished.

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

Their father also left a letter for Miroslaba’s parents, in part saying:  “I’ve heard rumors that I killed her, that I put her in the water, held captive.  But you guys shouldn’t believe any of that.  I, just like you am suffering.  I ask my God for a miracle, that she be alive.”

There’s was search for Miroslaba Ramirez in the west desert.  But the only thing they found were a pair of earrings that belonged to her.

“For a long time it was the unknown,” said the daughter.  “I thought maybe she left us too and somedays I thought maybe he hurt her.”

They had been abandoned, no mother and no father.  They did move in with the mother’s parent’s but it didn’t last long. The two sisters were placed in a foster home.  Their young brother was adopted.

“My grandparents were also hurting over what happened to my mom,” she said.  “It’s hard to get away from that so when we moved into foster care it was good because we could be kids again.”

Twelve years later, someone found human remains near a potash mine south of Wendover.  Months later, with the use of DNA, it turned out to be Miroslaba Ramirez.

These days the site is marked with a large cross and nearby there’s an even large cross made from the soil in the area, with an aerial view clearly distinguishing the cross.

For years, Jessica Ramirez lived in denial that her father had a role in her mother’s disappearance.  But after visiting the site and viewing police evidence of the burial site, her thinking changed.

“That’s when we did realize he did hurt her and that what he said to everybody wasn’t true,” said Ramirez.

Their father’s full name, Jose Ramirez Rodriguez is listed on a flyer distributed by the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office.  The bulletin was released in July asking the public’s help for information about his whereabouts.  Ramirez is already facing kidnapping charges and there’s a warrant for his arrest.  But for now, he’s only a person of interest in his wife’s death.

“He left us at a baby sitter and just didn’t come back for us,” the daughter said. (He) just left us without both parents, mom and dad.  I would hope he’d care about us and give us justice.”

The cause of Miroslaba’s death is still unknown.  Friday, Ramirez offers more insight what authorities are doing and an investigator who re-opened the case will discuss his whereabouts.

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