Nearly six years since Ramal Ellis was found shot to death, his mother Ruthel Ellis says there are no known suspects, arrests or even witnesses in what she calls a forgotten case.
“I feel frustrated about their investigation,” Ellis said. “It wasn’t thorough enough, I think, or aggressive enough. So, therefore, it is where it is now – a cold case, and no one is investigating it now that I know of.”
On Nov. 17, 2013, 23-year-old Ramal was walking home on Third Street near the Fifth African Baptist Church when he was gunned down. Ellis is convinced his murder was planned, but does not know why.
“It is really sad they have not arrested anyone or given his case priority still,” she said. “I feel like he has been forgotten about and we have been, as well.”
The last time Ellis saw her son was after church on that Sunday and he told her he was on his way home, but he never made it.
“I actually heard the gunfire, but I thought it was firecrackers,” she said of hearing the sounds around 8:30 p.m. “I heard a pop and then a pause and then another pop. I said to myself, ‘Who is popping firecrackers this time of year?’ not knowing they were killing my child at that time. Then we saw police lights down there and again we just thought someone was sick down there.”
Ramal’s father, Lamar, went to the scene.
“He told me he thought someone had gotten killed – and it was our son,” Ellis said.
Even then, she didn’t believe it.
“For the most part, I could just not wrap my mind around someone wanting to kill him and still don’t understand it today,” she said. “It still doesn’t make it any better because he’s gone. We miss him and love him, but we can’t kiss him, touch him or see him. It’s a very frustrating feeling.”
Ramal had not expressed concerns about his safety, and the area where he was killed wasn’t remote with houses surrounding the church, she added. He wasn’t into any criminal activity they were aware of and he was attending Delgado Community College and working at Home Depot. He was going to graduate the following May.
“That’s the type of person he was,” she said. “He was doing something productive in life.”
Ramal served as the backup to quarterback Jordan Jefferson during Destrehan High School’s title run in 2007. He also excelled at basketball and track.
Struggling with grief on losing her son, Ellis reflects on his constant smile.
“He was an easy going child and still lived with us,” she said. “He was a respectful person and he loved us … and we loved him. He was a person with goals in his life that he was trying to fulfill and all that was taken away from him – and for no reason. It was senseless.”
Initially, suspects were questioned in the case, but Ellis said the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office told her there was insufficient proof to make an arrest. Additional investigations followed with no result and she maintains they haven’t done enough in the case.
Sheriff Greg Champagne said he sympathizes with Ellis’ frustration, but the investigation has been extensive and is ongoing.
“At this point, I am sorry to say, we simply don’t have sufficient evidence to make an arrest,” Champagne said. “We do have potential suspects.”
Champagne did not name them in his statement about the case.
But he did say, “Detectives have followed up on every lead. We have interviewed over 100 people … collected DNA evidence from multiple sources and traveled throughout two states running down all leads.”
Early in the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office held meetings at the church near the crime scene aimed at answering residents’ questions, and detectives canvassed the area multiple times, the sheriff said.
“I actually heard the gunfire, but I thought it was firecrackers” – Ruthel Ellis
“Every time detectives work any other incident in St. Rose, we ask questions about this case,” he said. “We have periodically kept the family apprised of any developments and lack thereof. This case was the first of our unsolved homicide cases we broadcast on social media.”
Champagne said he has an extensive report from detectives outlining every step taken since the murder including names of witnesses and suspects, but he said “ … it would be counterproductive and could compromise the case should we obtain probable cause to arrest someone in the future. It could even hamper our investigation.”
The sheriff said there is more that’s been done in the case but he maintained “it would not be in the best interest of the case to reveal.”
Champagne added, “Suffice it to say, our detectives have worked diligently to follow up on all leads and gather more. As I said, there is a lot more that has been done. I prefer not to go into detail nor provide names. I do want to tell the perpetrator of this crime not to sleep too well. We will bring you to justice. We won’t stop.”
But he did emphasize the investigation must be factual to make an arrest.
“We just can’t manufacture evidence,” Champagne said. “This is real life – not CSI. Hopefully, one day we can solve this case. Nothing would be more satisfying.”
There are theories about what happened and one of them is robbery because Ramal’s wallet was missing.
In the years since her son’s death, Ruthel said she’s been to the Sheriff’s Office numerous times to ask about the investigation, as well as asked to bring in the FBI. She said she was told it couldn’t be done.
“I do want to tell the perpetrator of this crime not to sleep too well. We will bring you to justice. We won’t stop.” – Sheriff Greg Champagne
She’s gone to the U.S. Marshals, too, but with no help.
“I’ve been everywhere,” she lamented. “I’m just missing my child and want to know what happened to him – and why. We are just existing really by the grace of God. It’s something we will never forget. We’ll never get closure, but at least should have some comfort in knowing someone has been arrested and convicted of his murder.”
For Ramal’s mother, getting justice for her son has proven difficult and she wept as she explained she felt the world had become one where people don’t seem to care about the loss of her son.
“If it was their child, they’d understand how we feel,” she said.
She is appealing to anyone with knowledge about the murder to come forward.
Anyone with information can contact Crimestoppers at (877) 903-STOP.
You do not have to give your name or testify and could receive up to $5,000 for information leading to a successful conviction.
- Ramal Ellis was shot to death behind the Fifth African Baptist Church where he volunteered his time.
- Ellis’ parents, Lamar and Ruthel, still have signs in their yard requesting information about the crime.
- Ellis was a 2009 graduate of Destrehan High School, where he excelled in football, basketball and track.
- Sheriff Greg Champagne said they have not been able to obtain sufficient evidence to make an arrest in the Ramal Ellis murder, but he added they didn’t want to release detailed information at this time to avoid hindering the investigation.
- Detectives followed up on every lead even when they took them to two states, interviewed more than 100 people and collected DNA evidence from multiple sources.
- Early in the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office held two meetings with St. Rose residents to address their questions about the case.
- Champagne said this case was among the first unsolved homicide cases the Sheriff’s Office broadcast on social media.