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Boy, 16, Held in Slaying of Santa Paula Couple

Police say the suspect is a neighbor of the victims, who were bludgeoned to death. Car theft may have been the motive.

November 02, 2002|Massie Ritsch | Times Staff Writer

A 16-year-old neighbor of a Santa Paula couple found bludgeoned to death Oct. 21 coveted their car and killed them for it, police said Friday.

The youth was arrested, police said, after investigators discovered evidence linking him to the homicides in a raid at 7 a.m. Friday of his house, just a few blocks from the home of John M. Ramirez, Jr., 59, and Joann Wotkyns, 55. They were found dead in their bed.

Police said they have established no motive beyond the youth's apparent desire to have the couple's Special Edition 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. "That may have been the trophy the suspect was looking for," Santa Paula Police Chief Bob Gonzales told reporters. "It doesn't add up, it doesn't make sense."

Gonzales would not describe the evidence against the boy, nor say if a weapon was found. But he said investigators believe they can link him to the slayings through DNA tests, although the lab results won't be known for at least a week.

The boy, a student at a continuation high school, was not identified pending arraignment Monday in Superior Court. He is being held in Colston juvenile hall in Ventura.

Two other Santa Paula teenagers -- friends of the suspect -- were also taken into custody after searches Friday of their Santa Paula homes by police and district attorney investigators.

A 17-year-old remained in juvenile hall late Friday on suspicion of possessing a small amount of marijuana. No evidence related to the homicides was found in his home, police said.

The third juvenile was released from custody, although items from his home were seized as evidence, Gonzales said.

Witnesses told police they saw the youth driving the Chevy in Santa Paula and Ventura on Oct. 21, the day after investigators believe the couple were killed.

The car was recovered later in a nearby Kmart parking lot.

Gonzales said the couple, dressed for bed, were "viciously attacked" sometime after 10 p.m. on the night of Oct. 20.

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