Visalia child murder case featured “On The Case With Paula Zahn”

Micaela Ramirez, Anglica's younger sister, was with her the day she was kidnapped from the Visalia Swap Meet on March 3, 1994.(Reggie Ellis)

The story of 10-year-old child victim Angelica “Vicky” Ramirez airs on television series “On The Case With Paula Zahn”

VISALIA – The case of Angelica “Vicky” Ramirez, a child from Hanford who was abducted, raped and murdered almost three decades ago, will be featured in an American documentary and news program broadcast.

The episode of “On The Case With Paula Zahn” is set to air on Wednesday, June 14 at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. for Central time zones) on the multinational television network Investigation Discovery (ID). The episode is titled “Tragedy in Visalia,” where veteran journalist Paula Zahn will take a deeper look into the case of 10-year-old Angelica “Vicky” Ramirez.

“‘On The Case With Paula Zahn’ features riveting storytelling and original interviews that go beyond the headlines to reveal first-person accounts and expert insights of those connected to the cases, showcasing the full scope and impact of murder,” ID’s true crime public relations team said via statement.

Vicky’s tragic story starts in March 1994, when she became a child victim of an abduction, rape and murder case. She was kidnapped from a Visalia swap meet when she walked herself to a bathroom near the vending booth her mother, Angelica Ramirez, was running. When she didn’t return to the booth soon after, law enforcement was notified and a search was conducted by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

The investigation led the search team to an irrigation ditch on Avenue 96, roughly a mile west of Road 96 in Pixley, where Vicky’s body was found and the cause of her death was pieced together, with only one piece missing: the identity of the person who was responsible for her abduction and murder.

For 28 years, the question was unanswered and the case was left cold, although the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office spent the years looking for evidence pointing to who it could be. The case folder was officially closed on June 30, 2022, however, when County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux announced the identity of her murderer: Ramiro Villegas of Mexico, a man who immigrated into the U.S. in the late 1960s.

At the time of the case’s closing, Villegas would have been 73-years-old; however, eight years before the announcement was made, he’d died from complications caused by Valley Fever in 2014. His identity was discovered through a genetic profile made from a DNA sample collected from the scene of the crime, which was uploaded to genealogy sites GEDmatch and Family Tree DNA.

In February 2022, the profile was matched to an individual who submitted their DNA profile to the websites, which narrowed the suspect list until it came down to just five siblings. Villegas was eventually determined as the responsible assailant for the crime, especially after it was discovered that he had ties to Tulare County when Vicky was murdered.

Residents interested in hearing more details surrounding Vicky’s story can tune in to “On The Case With Paula Zahn” to watch the episode “Tragedy in Visalia” and find out how her case was brought to a close. The television series can be viewed either on the ID channel or on streaming services like Amazon Prime, Hulu and many others.

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