Tulare County Sheriff's office identifies suspect in 1994 Angelica Ramirez kidnapping, murder

ByElisa Navarro and ABC30.com Staff via KFSN logo
Friday, July 1, 2022
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After more than 28 years, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office has identified the killer of Angelica Ramirez, the 10-year-old girl who was taken from a Visalia swap meet on March 3, 1994.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- After more than 28 years, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office has identified the killer of Angelica Ramirez, the 10-year-old girl who was taken from a Visalia swap meet on March 3, 1994.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said that with DNA technology and genealogy techniques, they were able to identify Ramiro Villegas as the man who took Angelica and later killed her.

WATCH: Our March 4, 1994 story on the disappearance of Angelica Ramirez

Villegas had a lengthy criminal history: he molested at least two minors in the early 1980s, which was never reported to authorities, he was arrested and charged for fighting in public in 1991 but released on probation without jail time, and was arrested and charged in 2002 for transporting drugs in El Dorado County. Villegas spent two years in prison for the drug charges and was deported back to Mexico in 2014. Later that year he died of valley fever.

In June 2021, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office started partnering with the FBI to process the DNA and identify the genealogy. In February 2022, they received a match to distant family members of Ramiro Villegas. Investigators were able to run down the family tree and find Ramiro.

RELATED: New DNA technology could help Tulare County investigators find suspect in 1994 murder

It was March 3, 1994, when 10-year-old Angelica Ramirez was taken from a Visalia swap meet. There with her parents and brother, she had walked away to use the restroom.

Two days later, her body was found in a canal off Avenue 96 in Pixley. Though she was submerged in water, investigators were able to pull Villegas' DNA.

RELATED: Tulare County Sheriff's Department use voice from the grave to revive cold case

Sheriff Boudreaux said that he worked the case when he was a young law enforcement officer, and in the 28 years since Angelica went missing, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office never forgot the case.

Stay with ABC30 for the latest details on this developing story.