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Fourth victim dies in California crime spree linked to nephew of missing Houston siblings

October 4, 2018

A fourth victim in the deadly beatings linked to the nephew of two missing Houston siblings has died, according to police in the Los Angeles area.

Ramon Escobar, 47, was captured within hours of when investigators say he bludgeoned his final victim of a three-week crime spree. The bolt cutter-wielding suspect allegedly attacked the man as he slept on a sidewalk the morning of Sept. 24. The unidentified man spent the week in a coma and died Sunday night, Lt. Saul Rodriguez said Wednesday.

The slayings of four predominantly homeless men Escobar is accused of began soon after his arrival in California. A Los Angeles Police Department captain said Escobar ditched Houston when investigators questioned him in the disappearance of his uncle Rogelio Escobar, who went missing on Aug. 26. His aunt, Dina Escobar, vanished two days later while looking for her brother.

Dina Escobar’s burned-out van was found near a Galveston beach soon after her disappearance.

After police interviewed Escobar on Aug. 30, he drove his Honda CRV 1,500 miles to the beach city of Santa Monica, where the brunt of the attacks took place.

Before the latest attack death, neighbors down the street from the southwest Houston home where the suspect lived with his uncle said Ramon Escobar’s aunt tried her best to protect him after he served six days in jail in May for punching his boss at a moving company.

“He’s a mess,” said Magnolia Johnson, who says she and her sister often fielded Escobar’s drunken requests for cigarettes.

“His aunt, the one who is missing, tried to help him but he never wanted to do right. So she just washed her hands of him,” Johnson said.

Another set of neighbors recalled that Escobar’s aunt pleaded with them to stop hosting her nephew for beers.

“She was always protecting him,” Rebecca White said.

White, along with several neighbors on the same block, never saw the violence Escobar is accused of unleashing in Southern California. But now that Houston investigators suspect foul play in Dina and Rogelio Escobar’s disappearance, White looks back on her friendship with caution.

“He helped us move, did work on our car,” White said. “He has been in my home, he’s met my kids.”

Houston police still consider Escobar a person of interest in the missing persons case, but Chief Art Acevedo said investigators have not compiled enough evidence to accuse him of a crime.

“We know that we have people that are probably his victims here in Houston,” Chief Art Acevedo said Tuesday night at a press conference.

Houston investigators are still negotiating with detectives in Los Angeles to interview Escobar a second time in his family’s disappearance.

Escobar, an El Salvador national and repeat deportee, is charged with three counts of murder and a fourth count is pending the approval of Los Angeles County prosecutor’s after the death of his final victim.

He has been removed from the U.S. six times since 1997, federal officials said.

nicole.hensley@chron.com

@nkhensley

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