What We Know So Far About Ramon Escobar, The Man Accused In A String Of Deadly Beatings
The man believed to be responsible for a string of violent attacks on homeless men sleeping outside in Los Angeles and Santa Monica was also being sought for questioning in the disappearance of two relatives in Houston, police said Tuesday.
Ramon Escobar, 47, was arrested in connection with the beating of a man in Santa Monica on Monday. Police believe he was responsible for the death of another man whose body was found under the city's famous pier last week. Days before that, investigators believe he attacked three homeless men with a baseball bat as they slept on the streets of downtown L.A. Two of the victims later died of their injuries.
Police searched Escobar's car and recovered a baseball bat believed to be the weapon in the downtown L.A. killings, according to LAPD Capt. William Hayes, who spoke at an afternoon press conference.
Investigators will recommend Escobar face three counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder when they file the case with the L.A. County District Attorney's office Wednesday morning, Hayes said.
So what do we know about this guy? What was his motive? Are we dealing with a serial killer? Here's what we know following the latest update from police.
WHO IS RAMON ESCOBAR?
Escobar is believed to have fled his home in Houston last month after he was questioned by police in the disappearance of two relatives, Dina and Rogelio Escobar, Hayes said.
Ramon Escobar, nephew of missing persons Dina and Rogelio Escobar, was arrested in Santa Monica, California, yesterday. He's a person of interest in their disappearance in Houston. Our investigators want to speak with him. No other information at this time. pic.twitter.com/sUpD7oePUf— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) September 25, 2018
He had a criminal record and may have been deported* previously as a felon, according to Hayes. He served five years in a Texas prison from 1995 to 2000. His record includes an arrest for assault in November 2017 and another for criminal trespass in February 2018.
A STRING OF ATTACKS
Escobar is believed to be linked to at least five different attacks in Santa Monica and Los Angeles beginning shortly after he arrived in the area. The following timeline is based on information from the L.A., Santa Monica and Houston police departments, as shared by Hayes and by Santa Monica Police Capt. Wendell Shirley:
Sometime between Aug. 26 and Aug. 28 -- Dina and Rogelio Escobar disappear.
Aug. 30 -- Ramon Escobar is questioned by police as a person of interest because he had been living with them. He leaves Texas shortly thereafter.
Sept. 5 -- Escobar arrives in L.A., possibly after traveling along Interstate 10.
Sept. 8 -- A person sleeping on the beach around the 1800 block in Santa Monica is violently assaulted, suffering blunt force trauma to the head. The person is hospitalized and later released but has no recollection of the incident.
Sept. 10 -- Another person sleeping on the beach in the same area is violently beaten, also suffering blunt force trauma to the head. Police said this victim remained in a coma.
Sept. 16 -- Three homeless men sleeping on the street in downtown L.A. are attacked by someone with a baseball bat in the vicinity of 5th Street and Wilshire Boulevard -- again suffering head trauma. Two of them later die from their injuries.
Sept. 20 -- Another man is violently assaulted and found dead under the Santa Monica Pier. He is found to have similar injuries.
Sept. 24 -- Another man is attacked at 7th and Colorado in Santa Monica and found with the same injuries. Police find Escobar in the area and arrest him. Police said the victim in this attack was still in a coma.
WHY DID HE DO THIS? IS HE A SERIAL KILLER?
Escobar's motive remains unclear, but police suspect the attacks began as robberies. Escobar is believed to be homeless himself.
"It does not appear to be directed at any specific group. I think it was a crime of opportunity," Hayes said.
Hayes called the attacker a "violent predator" and stopped short of labeling him a serial killer, but said that police are looking into that designation. He said the criteria for a serial killer is three or more victims.
"Obviously we have three victims at this time, and there are two that are in critical condition that we don't know their particular status, but he is a violent predator and I'll leave it at that," Hayes said.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Escobar is being held without bail. Investigators planned to file the case with the district attorney's office Wednesday morning, and his arraignment was expected on the same day.
*The L.A. Times has since reported that Escobar was "deported to El Salvador six times between 1997 and 2011. ICE said Escobar has six felony convictions for burglary and illegal reentry."
Sept. 26 at 9:50 a.m.: This article was updated with reporting from the L.A. Times on previous deportations.
This article was originally published Sept. 25 at 5:09 p.m.
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