Santa Paula Times

SPPD investigation into double brutal slaying continues

October 30, 2002
Santa Paula Police Department
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesA quiet Las Pasadas neighborhood remains the scene of an intensive investigation following the brutal beating death of a husband and wife found slain in their upper-middle-class Corte La Brisa home.Joann Wotkyns, 55, and her 59-year-old husband, John A. Ramirez Jr., appeared to have been killed between 10 p.m. Sunday and early Monday morning, said Santa Paula Police Det. Ish Cordero.The bodies were discovered Monday evening just after 9 p.m. when SPPD officers responded to the quiet cul-de-sac to check the well being of the couple, who had not shown up for work at Imation that day.John Ramirez’s newer model blue truck was still on the scene Tuesday afternoon parked outside the house behind the yellow police tape sealing off the area. But adding to the mystery of the couples’ slaying - described by their neighbors as on the private side, but “nice, well-liked” - was the discovery of Wotkyns’ 2001 Monte Carlo in the Kmart parking lot, about a mile away, approximately an hour after the bodies were discovered on their upstairs bed. Blood was splattered throughout the room but the rest of the home was “pristine,” said SPPD Chief Bob Gonzales. “It appears that nothing was disturbed or taken, no ransacking, in the rest of the house.”Although the front door was locked, the inside door from the garage area was ajar when officers first arrived on scene.Autopsies revealed that the couple had died from massive, blunt force head injuries.“A number of the neighbors are very frightened,” said Las Pasadas resident Mary Ann Krause. “We want the police to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible so we know if we’re dealing with a random event, which could be serious for the community, or if this was a more personal tragedy.”Other Las Pasadas residents, including the slain couple’s closest neighbors who told investigators they didn’t hear or see anything unusual, said the brutal slayings also shocked and frightened them.The couple, known for their love of collecting and creating pottery and ceramics, which they freely gifted to neighbors, had a cat that was found unharmed. Neighbors said the couple had lived in the home for about 11 years, since they were married. Both Ramirez and Wotkyns had grown children from previous marriages. Imation had contacted his son when the couple failed to arrive at work or call-in Monday.
“It was unlike them not to come in to work,” said Chief Gonzales.Ramirez was a materials planner at Imation, where he met his future wife, Wotkyns, the coordinator of employee training. Both had worked at the Camarillo-based computer data cartridge manufacturer for decades, and reportedly had been discussing retirement. Grief counselors were provided to all Imation employees after they learned of the murder of the couple.“Forty-eight hours into the investigation, we’re still working with the little information that we have,” Chief Gonzales said late Wednesday. “We don’t believe that robbery was the motive because we can’t determine at this point if anything was taken or not. Areas of value are still in place and we’re continuing to follow up the leads we have from neighbors, friends and people in the community.”Chief Gonzales said investigators would work with the family to determine if anything is missing from the scene of the double-homicide. “Apparently, the couple were the original owners of the house when Las Pasadas was developed, and the neighbors said they were happy, easy-going types. . .there’s no rhyme or reason for it.”SPPD investigators who arrived at the home shortly after 9 p.m. Monday were still on the scene Tuesday afternoon, foregoing sleep as they worked with Ventura County Sheriff Crime Scene, Medical Examiner and District Attorney investigators.The public is being asked to contact Det. Cordero at 933-4277 if they observed Wotkyns 2001 Chevrolet Monte Carlo being driven anytime between 10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20th and 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21st.The Monte Carlo is black with decorative silver checkers on the side of the vehicle with a white, Tasmanian Devil cartoon decal on the right trunk area.