See Update No. 2 at the bottom of page 2 on the recovered body being identified as Maribel Ramos' and her roommate being arrested for her murder. Update No. 1 on page 2 was about a woman's body being found Thursday in Modjeska Canyon, and police and Ramos' family fearing it was the missing Cal State Fullerton student's.
ORIGINAL POST, MAY 7, 1:21 P.M.: People at Cal State Fullerton are hoping someone has seen Maribel Manriquez Ramos, a 36-year-old student and University Outreach Office worker who was reported missing on Friday. “The circumstances surrounding Ramos' disappearance are suspicious,” reads an Orange Police Department advisory issued Monday.
“She is a very bright, up and coming student and literally just disappeared,” a friend of Ramos writes in an email asking the Weekly to publicize the case to draw more attention to it.
Ramos, who resides in Orange, is described as Hispanic, 5-foot-2, 130 pounds, with brown, medium-shoulder length hair. She has a tattoo of a star on her left shoulder and an Aztec/tribal symbol on her lower back.
She served in the Army for more than a decade.
Anyone with information of her whereabouts is asked to contact Orange Police Detective Joey Ramirez at 714.936.4501 or the agency's watch commander at 714.744.7403.
A larger view of her photo follows on the next page …
UPDATE NO. 1, MAY 17, 8:25 A.M.: Orange County authorities say they fear the body of a woman found in Modjeska Canyon Thursday afternoon is that of Maribel Manriquez Ramos, the 36-year-old U.S. Army veteran and Cal State Fullerton student who's been missing since May 2.
The body was recovered in brush near Santiago Canyon and Jackson Ranch roads in an unincorporated area of the county, according to Orange Police, which is participating in the search because Ramos was last seen outside her apartment in that city.
Her family posted this message on the Find Maribel Ramos Facebook page about an hour ago:
Please continue your prayers. A body was discovered last night off of Santiago Cyn but we don't know if it is Maribel. We don't expect to know until noon.
Ramos had been scheduled to graduate this spring with a degree in criminal justice. She was reported missing after failing to show up at a veterans appreciation dinner, where she was supposed to give a speech. That is very unlike her, say her family and friends.
Surveillance video from outside her apartment building last caught her round 8:30 a.m on May 2, which was a couple days before the missing person's report. That was also the last day her roommate saw her; when he returned home later that day, Ramos was gone. There were no signs of foul play in the apartment, according to police.
She left behind her car and dog, and her credit cards and bank accounts have not been touched since she went missing. But her keys, wallet and cell phone have disappeared with her.
UPDATE NO. 2, MAY 17, 5:15 P.M.: An Orange Police Department spokesman just confirmed at a press conference that the body found Thursday in Modjeska Canyon was Maribel Ramos.' Police Lt. Dave Hill also revealed this bombshell: her roommate has been arrested for her murder.
After the identification of Ramos was confirmed by the county coroner, Kwang Chol “K.C.” Joy willingly accompanied Orange Police detectives to the station for questioning, after which he was arrested on suspicion of murder and booked into Orange County Jail, Hill said.
The case will be forwarded to the district attorney for charges, according to Hill, who added Ramos' family has been informed of today's developments and that no more information is coming at this time.
KNBC/Channel 4 News, which previously spoke with Joy, said the 54-year-old had described his relationship with Ramos as platonic and that she was about to move out of their Orange apartment when she went missing. But Ramos' sister, Lucy Gonzalez, told City News Service it was Joy who was soon moving out because he got a job out of the area.
Ramos served two tours of duty in Iraq as a sergeant in the Army and spent another year in South Korea before returning to Orange County to pursue a criminal justice degree. The last time Gonzalez had contact with her sister was May 2, when she texted Ramos to ask her about a trip she had made to Chicago to participate in a panel discussion on veterans transitioning to civilian life and higher education.
“She didn't respond right away, but I know she went to work and they sent her home because she looked really tired,'' Gonzalez told the news service of her sister, who worked at the veterans center at Cal State Fullerton. Ramos went home, got some rest and sent a text message back to her sister at 5:48 p.m., promising to call later, Gonzalez said.
Ramos was also dating someone she met a couple of months ago, Gonzalez said of her sister, adding, “It looked promising. They liked each other.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.