Santa Monica
Traditional Reporting for A Digital Age

ROQUE & MARK Co. Real Estate 310.828.7525

Home Special Reports Archive Links The City Commerce About Contacts Editor Send PR

Convicted Santa Monica Killer Charged with Cellmate's Murder

Bob Kronovetrealty
We Love Property Management Headaches!

Good Vibes Start Here. Santa Monica Travel and Tourism

Santa Monica Apartments

Santa Monica College
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 434-4000


By Lookout Staff

September 20, 2023 -- Ramon Escobar -- the convicted serial killer who committed two of his 2018 murders in Santa Monica -- has been charged with murdering his prison cellmate earlier this year, prosecutors announced Monday.
Ramon Escobar
Ramon Escobar (Courtesy California Department of Corrections)

Escobar was sentenced in May of last year to 124 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to a spree of assaults on mostly homeless men in Santa Monica and Los Angeles that left five dead and seven injured.

Eacobar -- who was also sentenced to two life prison terms without the possibility of parole for killing his aunt and uncle in Texas -- was in North Kern County State prison when he strangled Juan Villanueva on February 24, according to the Kern County District Attorney's Office.

Villanueva had been sentenced in Los Angeles County to life with the possibility of parole for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14.

Prison authorities discovered him unresponsive in the cell he shared with Escobar, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Escobar was serving his prison term in California -- where Governor Gavin Newsom had placed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019 -- after a plea deal spared him from a potential death sentence in Texas.

Authorities believe Escobar arrived in the LA area on September 5, after his aunt, Dina Escobar, and his uncle, Rogelio Escobar, went missing the previous month.

Four days later, on September 8, the first brutal beating took place on the beach south of the Pier shortly before dawn, followed by a second attack on the beach two days later. Both men were beaten in their sleep.

The first victim survived, but the second, Juan Antonio Ramirez, 51, died of his injuries in January 2021. The second and third fatal beatings took place in Downtown Los Angeles on September 16.

Four days later, Escobar assaulted Steven Cruze, a 39-year-old San Gabriel resident who was sleeping under the Santa Monica Pier after a fishing trip. Cruze was the only murder victim who was not homeless.

Santa Monica Police arrested Escobar in the early morning of September 24 after he claimed the last of his 12 victims, 63-year-old Jorge Martinez, on a Downtown Santa Monica street.

Escobar, who had six previous felony convictions for burglary and illegal reentry, was deported to El Salvador six times between 1997 and 2011, the LA Times reported.

According to the prosecution's sentencing memorandum, the reasons Escobar gave for killing some of his victims were that they "irritated him, they were disrespectful to law enforcement, or he robbed them because he needed money."

Criminal proceedings against Escobar were suspended after his mental competency to stand trial was questioned. The proceedings were reinstated in June 2021 after it was determined Escobar was competent.

Back to Lookout News copyrightCopyright 1999-2023 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL Disclosures