GARDNERS, Pa. (WHTM) – An Adams County family is looking for answers after their loved one was found dead. They believe state police mishandled the case and a murderer is walking free.
Fred Ramos took his last breath May 12, 2016. The 48 -year-old was found in his car at Omalley Wood Products in Gardners where he worked. The car was still running. Fred was slumped over the wheel with a beer in his lap.
“When I heard the rescue ambulance go past my house and I couldn’t reach him, I knew it, I felt it,” said Betty Perry, Fred’s sister.
Fred’s family rushed to the lumber yard. They could see Fred lying on the ground. Emergency crews were working on him.
“The worst thing that night is when they stopped trying to resuscitate him. It was just awful,” Perry said.
“I just saw him lying there dead,” said Helen Estrada, a sister.
ABC27 Investigators put together a timeline leading up to Ramos’s death based on witness accounts and documents.
His family says Ramos left his niece’s house in the 300 Block of Oxford Road at 7 p.m. and headed to a friend’s house on Victory Church Road. That’s where Ramos got a message to pick up his girlfriend at Omalley Wood Products.
At 7:50 p.m. surveillance video shows Ramos’s grey Mazda at Gardner’s Market on Upper Bermudian Road. The store owner told ABC27 that Ramos bought gas and cigarettes and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
At 8:15 p.m., a 911 call comes from the lumber yard after an employee finds Ramos in his car.
The lumber yard is a one minute drive from Gardner’s Market. According to an autopsy report, Ramos died from blunt force injuries to his head. What happened in those 25 minutes between the market and the lumber yard?
Ramos’s family believes they know what happened.
“There had been a threat made on his life,” Perry said.
“His life was taken over a woman, said Jimmy Ramos, Fred’s brother. “He didn’t just fall out of his car and bump his head and die. That’s not what happened.”
“He was beaten over the head,” Estrada said.
The family also believes state police made mistakes.
“There was definitely no crime tape [at the scene]. It was like [state police] were not taking it seriously. We were telling them he was killed,” Perry said. “I think there was evidence lost on the processing of the car, too.”
The family says Ramos’s car was returned to them with marijuana inside. They believe that proves the car was never processed for evidence. They added that there was no damage that indicated Ramos was in a car accident.
Several police sources say setting up a perimeter, logging who comes in and out of the scene, and calling a forensic unit is standard procedure when investigating a potential homicide. The ABC27 Investigators filled a right to know request for the 911 records to determine who was on the scene and for how long. Adams County redacted most of the information, which the ABC27 Investigators have appealed.
Despite the redactions, ABC27 could still determine that state police were on the scene for two hours and eight minutes. Is that enough time to collect evidence?
We reached out to state police for comment on the case. Initially, they agreed to go on camera to say this is an ongoing investigation. When ABC27 Investigator Kendra Nichols asked them to specifically address questions about how the investigation was handled, police declined to go on camera at all.
A few days later, state police sent a news release to all media outlets. The first mass news release on the case since Ramos’s death more than a year and a half ago, it stated that “responding troopers observed no obvious trauma to the victim.” The release also stated that police continue to investigate the case and anyone with information should call the Gettysburg station at 717-334-8111.
The family is hoping someone will come forward with information.
“It has not been easy. Fred was a great person and everybody that knew him loved him,” Estrada said.
“Every day we have to think about him,” Jimmy Ramos said. “I want to be able to say they got the man that did it and finally justice is served. There would be a little bit of peace in our lives. In the end, if nothing else, God is going to deliver justice.”
Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett told the ABC27 Investigators that state police have handled the case properly and it is still an open investigation.
The ABC27 Investigators also reached out to Adams County Coroner Pat Felix to ask why Ramos’s manner of death was not listed as a homicide. Felix responded by saying, “there has been no new evidence in this case so the manner remains undetermined at this time.”
Felix also said she is aware of only one other recent case in the county where the manner of death remains undetermined.