Ramon Escobar, 51, was serving a life sentence for killing 7 people over. While serving time for these murders, he is suspected to have killed his cellmate, convicted child rapist Juan Villanueva, 53. Both men were serving life sentences at the North Kern State Prison in Delano, California.
The History of Ramon Escobar
Ramon Escobar was born in El Salvador in 1971. He came into the United States illegally and was deported for the first time in 1988. He committed theft, and on one occasion, spent a five-year sentence in a Texas prison before being deported. Over the years, Escobar came into the United States illegally eight times. He filed an appeal of one of the deportation orders in December 2016, and was granted political asylum in January 2017. Escobar began living with his aunt and uncle (who were siblings) in Houston, Texas and found work as a day laborer, although he was still charged with several thefts. He spent no jail time on those charges. Neighbors would later report that many arguments took place between Escobar and his uncle, Rogelio Escobar, because the uncle did not agree with Escobar’s lifestyle.
Ramon Escobar’s Crimes in Texas
On August 26, 2018, Escobar beat his 65-year-old uncle, Rogelio Escobar, to death with a police baton that had been in the house and stole some of his uncle’s personal possessions. Escobar would later explain that he had killed his uncle because he felt he was being disrespected. When his aunt, Dina Escobar, 60, became worried that she could not find her brother, she began searching the community. Escobar snuck into Dina’s minivan and hid in the back of the vehicle under some clothes. He surprised her when he attacked and ultimately strangled her. He put both bodies into two separate dumpsters. Their remains were discovered in a community landfill several weeks later. Following the murders, he drove Dina’s minivan to Galveston, Texas, where he set fire to it on the beach to destroy any possible evidence. Friends of Rogelio and Dina notified law enforcement that the pair were missing. Investigators interviewed Escobar but could not hold him due to lack of evidence. Following the interview, Escobar immediately left the state of Texas and drove to southern California. When he arrived, he submersed himself into the homeless population.
Ramon Escobar’s Crimes in California
In California, between the areas of Santa Monica and Los Angeles, Escobar committed 5 murders over a one-month period. All of his victims were homeless except a fisherman who had been taking a nap on a beach, near the Santa Monica Pier.
Escobar attacked a homeless man by beating him with a baseball bat on September 8, 2018, approximately one week after he arrived in the southern California area. The man survived the attack.
On September 10, 2018, Escobar attacked Juan Ramirez, 51, using a baseball bat. The attack left Juan in a coma; he died in January 2021.
Escobar would attack 3 men on September 16, 2018, killing two of them. Braden Ridout, 24, and Kevin Williams, 59, were both beat to death with a baseball bat. The victim that survived was 23 years old. These series were captured on closed circuit security cameras. Investigators created a facial sketch.
On September 20,2018, Steven Cruze Jr. had spent the night fishing. He had spent the night under the Santa Monica Pier. Escobar had come across Steven and beat him to death, as he did the previous victims.
Escobar killed his last victim on September 24, 2018. Jorge Martinez was beaten with a baseball bat and fell into a coma; he died on September 30, 2018.
Within minutes of his of attack Jorge, police apprehended Escobar and determined that he was the man that had been recorded on the camera feeds.
When Texas investigators learned Escobar had been arrested, they traveled to California to question him regarding the death of his aunt and uncle. He confessed to both of their deaths as well. Investigators in California believe that robbery was a motive. Escobar also told investigators that some of his victims annoyed him. The Los Angeles Police Department held a press conference on September 29, 2018, regarding Ramon Escobar’s arrest. You can find that here.
Ramon Escobar’s Charges
According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Escobar convictions are listed as two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree murder, and seven counts of second-degree attempted murder. A plea deal was reached between
On May 6, 2022, Ramon Escobar was sentenced to one life sentence without the possibility of parole for his California charges plus an additional 124 years for the crimes committed in Los Angeles County. Escobar was also given one life sentence without the possibility of parole for the deaths of his Rogelio and Dina Escobar in Houston, Texas. It was decided that he would serve all of his sentences within the state of California. Escobar was initially sent to the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles, CA before being moved to North Kern State Prison in Delano, CA.
The Murder of Juan Villanueva
On February 24, 2023, at approximately 8:49 a.m, prison guards were doing a standard security wellness check in a section of the North Kern State Prison. Security personnel discovered Juan Villanueva unresponsive in his cell. Correctional officers took him immediately to the prison’s on-site medical facility. Juan Villanueva was pronounced dead at 9:08 a.m.
Prison officials looked to be the most logical person as a suspect. Villanueva’s cell mate was Ramon Escobar, a convicted serial killer.
The History of Juan Villanueva
There is not a lot of information known regarding Juan Villanueva prior to his conviction. Villanueva had a history of drug and alcohol charges. You can find those charges from Merced County California Superior Courts here.
A jury had found him guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14-years-old, in Los Angeles County, California. A judge sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole on October 25, 2022, and transferred to North Kern State Prison in Delano, CA on February 2, 2023. He was assigned to the cell that was occupied by Ramon Escobar.
Ramon Escobar is a suspect in the death of Juan Villanueva. His death is under investigation by North Kern State Prison’s Investigative Services Unit, the Kern County District Attorney’s Office and the Kern County Coroner, who will perform Villanueva’s autopsy. This case remains an active and open investigation.