Cold case composites

IMAGES COURTESY OF Parabon nanolabs via TCSO These composite sketches made from DNA evidence left at a crime scene depict what the man who murdered 10-year-old Angelica Ramirez in Visalia in 1994, age progressed to 25 years old (left) and 50 years old (right).

Composite sketch made from DNA information could solve case on 25th anniversary of 10-yr-old’s murder

A break in the 1994 murder investigation of a Hanford girl has Tulare County Sheriff’s Office investigators hoping to finally bring her killer to justice. 

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux announced Tuesday that detectives now have a composite sketch of a man who is wanted for questioning in the murder of 10-year-old Angelica Ramirez. 

“Using a male DNA profile deduced from a crime scene sample, the suspect’s physical description and ancestral background are now known thanks to DNA phenotyping, which provides physical characteristics based on DNA analysis,” Sheriff Boudreaux said.

In place of an eyewitness telling a sketch artist what he looks like, the suspect’s likeness was derived from his own DNA left at the crime scene. Sheriff Boudreaux decided to try this new cutting edge approach by enlisting the help of Parabon Nanolabs, a DNA technology company in Virginia. 

The results narrow the list of suspects and help produce new leads, he said.

With the new composite sketch in hand, Sheriff Boudreaux is asking the public for any information that might help solve Angelica’s murder.

“We are hopeful someone recognizes him and comes forward with information,” he said. “Any information, however small or seemingly insignificant, can break open this case and bring justice to Angelica’s family.” 

Angelica Ramirez was at the Visalia flea market on Thursday, March 3, 1994 with her mother when she disappeared while walking to the bathroom. Her family searched the flea market, but had could not find her. TCSO deputies arrived and searched the flea market. Tracking dogs were brought in and followed her scent west of the flea market to the large parking lot.

Two days later, a farm worker spotted a body in an irrigation canal on Avenue 96, approximately one mile west of Road 96, in the Pixley area. 

Detectives followed multiple leads and questioned multiple sex registrants. Many DNA samples were collected and compared with the DNA evidence found at the scene with no success in identifying the suspect.

In December 2002, the DNA found at the crime scene was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), the FBI’s DNA database, but no matches were found. 

Sheriff Boudreaux then turned to the Parabon Snapshot DNA Phenotyping Service, which provides predictions of physical characteristics based on DNA analysis and ancestral background approximations. 

All evidence and leads previously developed in the Angelica Ramirez murder are now being re-evaluated in view of this new forensic development, he said. 

From Parabon’s findings, he said the suspect has light brown or fair skin color, brown or black eye color, black or brown hair and likely no freckles. 

The suspect is most likely of Latino ancestry, coming from the Americas and Europe. This individual shows a mixture of Central American and Southwest European ancestry with smaller contributions from West Europe, Northwest Africa and South America. 

“For the first time in the 25 years since she was killed, we have a face to this crime,” Sheriff Boudreaux said.

This service has helped agencies around the world solve some of their toughest cases quickly and efficiently, like the Golden State Killer.

Anyone with information to report may contact the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office at (559) 733-6218 or anonymously through the Sheriff’s TipNow Program at (559) 725-4194 or tcso@tipnow.com.

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