Grave Spotlight

In a way, cemeteries are like libraries. They contain the final resting places of thousands of people, each with their own separate and unique story. Some of these people are famous, and their stories are well known. Most are not, but that doesn't make their life any less interesting or their stories any less worthy of being told and remembered.

Periodically, we'll spotlight a different Los Angeles-area grave. Every person has a story, and we will use this space to tell their story, through their final resting place.

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Victoria Ramey

March 15, 1963 - May 8, 1994

Jan. 30, 2012 -- Wandering through cemeteries and reading grave markers often raises a lot of questions. What does that sign or symbol mean? What's the story behind that epitaph? And, usually, why did this person die at such a young age?

Sometimes, those questions can be answered with little research. But it's rare when a grave marker includes the cause of death -- especially when it was a sudden, horrible and tragic death.

According to her friends and neighbors, Victoria "Vicki" Ramey liked to help people. Unfortunately, she offered to help the wrong person, and the 31-year-old unemployed single mother of a 5-year-old boy ended up shot to death in her home on Mother's Day.

In early 1994, Ramey was living alone in her home in the 800 block of La Canada Avenue in Oxnard, and was engaged to be married. Her young son, Dale, was living with her ex-husband.

Several years before, Ramey had been engaged to Gary Michael Rose, a war veteran who moved to Indiana after the break-up with Ramey. But Rose contacted Ramey, said he was moving back to California, and asked if he could stay with her until he was able to find a job. Ramey agreed and, in April 1994, Rose moved in.

On Sunday, May 8 -– Mother’s Day -– about two weeks after Rose moved in, Ramey and Rose got into an argument at Ramey's house, reportedly over Ramey's engagement. After the argument, at about 9:30 p.m., Rose went upstairs to his bedroom and retrieved his .45-caliber handgun. When Ramey followed him, he pushed her down the stairs, then shot her three times –- twice in the head and once in the shoulder.

Rose left the house after the shooting, but later called police and returned to the scene to surrender.

Rose went on trial in September 1994, initially pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. While prosecutors sought a conviction on first-degree murder charges, Rose's attorney’s argued that the shooting was "an act of desperate passion," and argued for a conviction on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. The defense also argued that Ramey was legally drunk at the time of the shooting, that she had provoked Rose, and that Rose suffered from psychological problems due to his military service.

The jury convicted Rose of second-degree murder, and he was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He is currently serving his sentence at the California State Prison in Sacramento.

Ramey was buried at Santa Barbara Cemetery, where her grave marker notes that she was "murdered so cruelly."

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