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Family, friends of woman found strangled in Midlothian forest preserve send message to killer: ‘We’re coming and we’re not going to stop’

“For the person that did this heinous crime, if you are listening to this, you are a coward, low-life and truly are the scum of the earth for what you have done,” the slain 21-year-old’s cousin said.

Around 100 friends, family and community members gather Thursday at Midlothian Meadows forest preserve to demand information on the death of Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Just over a week after Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez was found strangled in a Midlothian forest preserve, roughly 100 friends and family members gathered at the scene Thursday afternoon to press for answers and send a message to her killer.

“For the person that did this heinous crime, if you are listening to this, you are a coward, low-life and truly are the scum of the earth for what you have done,” the slain 21-year-old’s cousin Carolina Abrams told reporters during a news conference.

“You have no idea what pain and suffering you have caused our family to endure,” Abrams added. “But I hope and pray that soon you will.”

Ceja-Ramirez went missing last Monday after walking in the forest preserve with her mother and a friend, according to Midlothian police and the Missing Persons Awareness Network. Her body was later found there last Wednesday afternoon, a day after her cellphone last pinged at an apartment complex in nearby Oak Forest, Cook County officials reported.

Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez was found strangled at the Midlothian Meadows forest preserve on Nov. 4, 2020.
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Community activist Andrew Holmes urged residents of that apartment to come forward with any tips as he offered an increased reward of $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the killing.

“My message is to the individual, or individuals, [responsible]: We’re coming and we’re not going to stop,” said Holmes, who previously told the Sun-Times that she was tortured and her body was partially burned.

While Holmes noted that Ceja-Ramirez worked as a teacher’s aide, Abrams remembered her cousin as a “precious soul who loved her family and friends, and God.”

“We all loved her just as much,” Abrams said, flanked by dozens of mourners who clutched bouquets of flowers.

As the news conference was wrapping up, a distraught family friend emerged from the crowd and recalled a recent visit to the forest preserve just two weeks before Ceja-Ramirez was killed.

“I was here with my daughter, with my friend. It could’ve been me. It could’ve been her. It could’ve been anyone else. This needs to stop,” Karla Patino said, calling on President-elect Joe Biden and other elected officials to help with the investigation.

“This is a serious crime. A life was taken. Just imagine what this girl went through — all this pain, all this suffering,” she added. “Just by thinking, it hurts my heart; I feel like dying.”

Friends and family members mourned the death of 21-year-old Vanessa Ceja Ramirez during a news conference on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Midlothian.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times