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Slaying of Cal State Fullerton student stuns campus

May 19, 2013|By Rick Rojas and Victoria Kim
  • Army veteran Maribel Ramos, 36, shown in a family photo.
Army veteran Maribel Ramos, 36, shown in a family photo.

The slaying of 36-year-old Army veteran and soon-to-be college graduate Maribel Ramos has stunned Cal State Fullerton, where she was a well-known member of the campus community.

Cal State Fullerton President Mildred Garcia released a statement calling Ramos "a wonderful role model for our students" who will be deeply missed.

"Maribel was a beloved student and military veteran who was actively engaged here on our campus and in the community," Garcia said. "We honor her for her past service to our country as an airborne paratrooper in the Army and her commitment to her education. We continue to offer our support to her family and friends during this exceedingly difficult time."

Her body was found Thursday in a remote Orange County canyon.

Authorities on Friday announced that they had arrested her roommate in connection with the slaying.

Police said Kwang Chol "KC" Joy, 54, voluntarily submitted to an interview with detectives after he was contacted Friday morning, and was later arrested on suspicion of killing Ramos.

Police declined to release additional information, saying the case was being submitted to the Orange County district attorney's office.

An autopsy confirmed that a body found Thursday afternoon near Modjeska Canyon was that of Ramos, ending weeks of searching for the Cal State Fullerton student, Lt. David Hill of the Orange Police Department told reporters in a Friday news conference.

Ramos was reported missing May 3.

She served in the Army for eight years, including tours in Iraq and South Korea, before she was honorably discharged in 2008. She was a few weeks shy of receiving her degree in criminal justice from Cal State Fullerton.

She was last seen May 2 on video from security cameras at her Orange apartment complex, authorities said. The next day, she failed to show up at a veterans event at which she was scheduled to speak, then missed a softball game she had played weekly with one of her cousins for years.

Friends and relatives said it was out of character for her to walk away from her commitments without telling anyone.

"She doesn't do anything like that," cousin Frank Campos said before the body was found. "She's not the type of person to get up and go. There had to be something."

Family members said that when they went to her apartment after she first missed appointments, her car and her dog — a Chihuahua mix named Mia that was often at her side — were still there.

Family and friends organized walks through her neighborhood, handing out fliers and looking for clues. They also started a Facebook page, where hundreds have left comments.

After there was word that a body had been found, many commented that they were holding out hope and offering prayers that it wasn't Ramos. But by late Friday, hope gave way to mourning and condolences.

"She had been on my mind since we first heard," wrote one of the nearly 150 people who had posted messages to her family on Facebook. "May the angels surround her and God give you peace, may she rest in peace."


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