Update July 6th 12:01 P.M. MDT: Ryan Ramos found unhurt in Mexico, was dropped off at an LDS chapel. See updated post HERE
At left, Lonnie Ramos; at right, nine-year-old Ryan Ramos
Not only has the missing Fleetwood Providence RV in this case been found, but there are now indications that fugitive father Lonnie Ramos may have taken his son Ryan into Mexico. As a result, the Amber Alert, discussed in my previous post, has been cancelled. Latest media stories from the Orange County Register and KNBC Channel 4.
Police got a tip earlier on July 5th that an RV similar to the one that they were looking for had been parked for several days near the border crossing at Andrade, Ca, a tiny town in Imperial County, and Los Algodones, Baja California. Andrade is 180 miles east of San Diego and five miles west of Yuma, AZ. Orange County deputies have now telephonically verified it to be the missing RV. Since the RV also has a trailer hitch, this leaves open the possibility that Lonnie Ramos may have towed one of the other vehicles cited as missing, either a 2004 Chevrolet Suburban with California license plate 5LTC712, or a red Porsche convertible with California license plate 4BWU827. An alleged sighting of a similar RV in Kaysville, UT proved to be a false lead and despite the fact that Ramos allegedly has a girlfriend in Draper, UT, it is unlikely that Ramos ever set foot in the state this week.
In addition, police have located another witness who claimed he saw the two physically cross into Mexico on Thursday July 3rd. But because the crossing at Andrade is little more than a guard shack, there is concern that the apparent "border crossing" might be a ruse, and that the Ramoses may have later crossed back into the United States. If Lonnie Ramos was towing a second vehicle, then he could have recovered that vehicle, detached it from the RV, and resumed his flight. Ramos is said to have family ties in Texas and Washington D.C., and Texas might be a logical next stop. He could even be in Texas right now, and Texas readers of this blog might want to keep their eyes open.
There is also a financial incentive to keep one's eyes open. The family has posted a $10,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of Lonnie Ramos and the recovery of his son. A task force of 50 people has been engaged to aid in the search efforts. Anyone with information should call (714) 647-7419 or 24 hours a day (714) 628-7170.
How did this all break loose? It started on Wednesday July 2nd, when Lonnie Ramos' ex-wife Gynnae Ramos, 41, drove to pick up her son Ryan at his dad's house. A friend and her daughter were in the car as well as a precaution against trouble. At least twice on previous custody exchanges, police were called because of disturbances. But when she arrived, Lonnie Ramos came up to the car and fired a handgun twice through the windshield, striking his estranged wife in the face. Gynnae was able to drive away from the scene, and then her friend took over, driving to a nearby mall where an ambulance took her to the hospital. While Gynnae is listed in critical condition, she is expected to survive, and has been able to talk and help the police.
An earlier Orange County Register story offers even more background. Lonnie Ramos and his ex-wife had been undergoing a contentious divorce battle since May 2003, in which both had filed restraining orders against the other. One of the major points was the custody of their son Ryan, which was awarded primarily to his mother.
After she filed for divorce in May 2003, Gynnae Ramos sought to reduce the amount of time that Lonnie Ramos had custody of their son, stating she had been threatened by Ramos and she was afraid he would take out his anger on their child. "You're going to get yours in the end," Gynnae Ramos said her husband told her during Ryan's pre-school graduation on May 17, 2007, according to an affidavit. Consequently, Ramos believed his wife was trying to prevent him from having a relationship with his son.
In addition, neighbors said Lonnie Ramos had been going through hard financial times. According to records, Ramos owned his own business – Big Star Construction. On January 31st, 2008, his general contractor license expired. In 2005, he purchased a $1.2 million home on Torres Way, records show, where the shooting took place.
And finally, court records also show that Lonnie Ramos was checked into a hospital in Dallas, Texas in November 1999 after attempting to commit suicide. But this was long before any troubles surfaced between him and his wife.
So you've got a situation here where you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Gynnae Ramos attempted to restrict Lonnie's visitation rights out of concern for the safety of Ryan. And in response, Lonnie looked upon it as an attempt to use their son Ryan as a pawn in their struggle for "control". I'm not sure that even the best child welfare agency in the world could have stopped this, never mind our own. The Texas CPS fiasco notwithstanding, child welfare agencies have a rather thankless job and are often underfunded, understaffed, and undersupervised. Yet many child welfare agencies also act like a law unto themselves, in which "child safety" is too frequently allowed to override constitutionality and common sense. Our justice system also hurts - in the United States, justice is frequently determined by income.
If Lonnie Ramos survives this experience, he'll be spending years in jail. I urge non-custodial fathers NOT to let your frustrations reach this point. It's not worth it.