King of the County Pedophiles

The life, death and final escape of Eleuterio Ramos

Everything is peaceful—except Ramos' former trailer, near the back of the Trailer Rancho. Its gray paint is drab and peeling. The windows are covered with frayed tinting; a paper cutout of an American flag covers one.

The trailer is deserted. Tafoya tells me no one has lived in the unit since Ramos passed away, but he doesn't know why. “I'm just the manager here,” he says. “I don't go into the business.” He also doesn't know why, despite the decrepit condition of the trailer, brilliant yellow and red roses bloom in the trailer's front yard—even in winter.

Neighbors tell me a man comes by every couple of days to prune and water the roses. Residents of the Hacienda Trailer Rancho who befriended Ramos near the end say the man doesn't talk to anyone—just tends the roses and disappears. They wonder who he is and why he cares for the rose garden of a dead child molester.

I knock on the trailer next door and talk to the man who answers. He moved into the Hacienda Trailer Rancho about the same time Ramos did.

“I never really talked to him, but he was nice,” says the man in Spanish, who didn't want to give his name. “I didn't know anything about him. Never said where he came from. I knew he was sick, though, because he would always go to the doctor. From time to time, I would sweep outside his trailer. One time, he tried to pay me, but I refused. I didn't see him for a while. Then I heard he had died, and that was that.”

I ask him about the rosebushes.

“That's the strange part,” the man exclaims. “Someone always comes by and waters them. They don't talk to anyone—they just water them and leave.”

Roses are a universal symbol of rejuvenation and love, something antithetical to Ramos' legacy. His appetite for children was grotesque and ferocious, like the monsters of medieval tales that fed on the souls of youth in the quest for salvation. Those roses seemingly grow in violation of moral law, of everything good and decent. But it's a fitting legacy: despite his sins, despite his actions, someone, somewhere, makes sure that Father Eleuterio Ramos is taken care of too.

GARELLANO@OCWEEKLY.COM

 

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