Gregory Ramos did pretty well at school for the most part. His grades were always above average, and he had a bunch of close friends who he hung out with regularly. When he came home one day with a D grade, his mother Gail Cleavenger was less than pleased with him.
Ramos’ grades were usually in the area of a C or B. When he came home from school with a bunch of D grades, his mother Gail saw red and took issue with him. But something made Ramos snap that day, and his poor mother would be the one to bear the brunt of it.
When Ramos got home from school that day, his mother was livid that he was averaging D grades and hadn’t even told her about it. When she found out that her 15-year-old son was getting bad grades at school, she did what most mothers would do in that situation. But Ramos wasn’t in the mood to be scolded, and he made that very clear to his mother.
It was past 11 p.m. when Ramos’ mother started having a go at him about his low grades. He went to his room and slammed the door as most young teens do, but the fact that his mother shouted at him like that was eating him up and Ramos was unable to fall asleep. An hour passed and then Ramos snapped, although no one knows what the actual catalyst was on this occasion.
At one point, Cleavenger decided she needed to call her son’s stepfather Danny Cleavenger who was away on business to tell him about the issue she had with Ramos. He explained that he would be back soon enough and would deal with the matter on his return. He had no idea that his stepson was about to snap and do the unthinkable.
Ramos’ mom was tired from her long day at work at an architects office. She fell asleep around midnight, but Ramos had other plans. At around 12:30 a.m., Ramos entered his mother’s room and coldly strangled her with his bare hands for at least 30 minutes until she died. She put up a fight but was unable to get control over her son who was stronger than her.
According to a report in the Miami Herald, Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood who investigated the case said that the young man’s motive was pure “rage.” As Chitwood explained to reporters: “He went into her room and woke her up and began strangling her and strangled her till he killed her.” But the cold way in which this boy killed his mother was a shocker even for the seasoned cops running the case.
Having killed his mother by strangulation, Ramos went ahead and drove her to an area of Holly Hill to dump her body. For whatever reason, he changed his mind and drove back to DeBary to get a shovel and some other items. He then drove back to a church around 1.5 miles from his home and buried his dead mother in a shallow grave.
It’s not as if Ramos was out of his mind at the time he killed his mother as he hatched a cover-up plan so he wouldn’t have to face law enforcement. Ramos enlisted the help of two friends who helped him dispose of the body but also staged a robbery at the family home to make it look like a burglary gone wrong. But cops had seen it all before and knew Ramos had something to do with the murder.
Place of Comfort
According to Detective Chitwood, the place where Ramos buried his mother was a place of “comfort” for the teen and his friends. They would often use the wooded area behind the church as a place for drinking and hanging out. The reason Ramos decided to bury his mother there was because “the ground was malleable,” so digging a grave would be easier.
In order to cover up the murder further, Ramos and his friends dug a fire pit and arranged rocks neatly around it. They did it so it didn’t look like anything had been dug up in the hope that they wouldn’t get caught for the murder. The friends allegedly traveled to a nearby Circle K to buy sodas and talk over their cover story in detail. It was the next day when the story would fall apart and Ramos would become the prime suspect in this murder case.
The friends agreed that two of the teens would kick in the front door of the family home and steal some items to make it look like a legitimate home invasion. Ramos came home early from school on Friday, as Chitwood explained: “Then he got home and made, in his words, a ‘Grammy-winning phone call’ to 9-1-1 to talk about this horrible incident that did not really occur.”
According to Chitwood, “The family has lost everything.” He added, “From my understanding, she was a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, and sister.” But when detectives found the shovel used to dig the grave they were almost certain that Ramos was the culprit. After questioning Ramos for hours detectives finally got a full confession from him, although it was a brutal one.
Ramos unceremoniously dumped his mother in a wheelbarrow to transport her to the family’s van. He didn’t even bother digging a proper grave for her and only dug down 8 inches into the ground. When police arrived at the scene, led there by the two accomplices, they could see the victim’s foot sticking out of the ground where the fire pit was located. According to Chitwood, “He (Ramos) had no sign of remorse. He is a soulless individual.”
Chitwood also told reporters that Ramos was one of the “top three sociopaths” he has encountered in his career. “He was very proud of his work, and he wanted to show it off,” he said. “To watch how cold and callous he was when talking about it was the most shocking thing to me.” But Ramos’ two friends were more than happy to help with the cover-up, too.
To Chitwood’s mind, Ramos needs to be tried as an adult for what he did to his mother. As Chitwood explained, when Ramos failed to kill his mother the first time around, he went back into her room and continued strangling her. The markings on Ramos’ face showed that his mother had put up a fight for her life but to no avail.
Even if most people assume that detectives have seen it all, some cases still shock them to their core. Chitwood explained to reporters that this case was one of the most disturbing of his career. “The case we worked tonight was one of the most disturbing and saddest I’ve seen in my career. I have a feeling this is a case we’ll be hearing about for years to come. All our hearts break for this family,” he said.
Amazingly, Ramos claimed to the cops that he had no choice but to strangle his mother to death. He claimed it was “preemptive self-defense” even though there is no history of abuse between him and his mother. “He thought it through,” Chitwood said. “He said that she was abusive and that he had to kill her before she killed him.” But no one had any inkling that Ramos was even capable of such a heinous act.
Next door neighbor Ryan Ward also spoke to reporters about his shock about the incident. “They seemed like nice, normal people and there was nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “I’ve seen (Ramos) out here with his friends, but they were never doing anything suspicious. It’s crazy stuff; I wouldn’t expect this around here.” Ramos even admitted to the police under investigation that he wanted to be a homicide cop one day.
Criminal Justice Classes
As well as being part of Orange City Police Explorers, Ramos is also enrolled in criminal justice classes at his school. “He wants to be a homicide detective,” Chitwood said. “He tried to use his classes to benefit him in this.” But Ramos wasn’t savvy enough to throw experienced cops like Chitwood off the murder trail. “Things were just not adding up. Things were amiss from the very beginning,” Chitwood said.
Even though Ramos fancied himself as a would-be detective, the way he killed and disposed of his mother was crude and hard to cover up. Chitwood explained to reporters that while Ramos showed “no sign of remorse whatsoever,” he, “thought he was gonna outsmart everyone in the room.” But there was no chance of that, as Chitwood concluded. “At the end of the day, I’m standing here, and he’s where he belongs.”
Due to laws in Miami, Ramos cannot be given the death sentence for his crimes if found guilty in court as he is still considered a minor. With that being said, Chitwood said that detectives would be recommending a life sentence without parole for Ramos, as he poses a serious and immediate threat to society. The case is ongoing as both prosecutors and defense attorney’s prepare to battle out the facts in front of a judge.