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Bob Finnan |The Chronicle-Telegram
MEDINA — During the entire judicial process, Medina County Prosecutor S. Forrest Thompson didn’t waver on what he said was a just sentence for convicted killer Gavon Ramsay.
Common Pleas Judge Joyce V. Kimbler evidently shared his sentiment, as she sentenced the 17-year-old to life in prison without parole for strangling 98-year-old Margaret Douglas on April 6.
After Kimbler read the sentence, Ramsay indicated he wished to file an appeal.
Ramsay, of the 100 block of Summit Street in Wadsworth, will remain in Medina County Jail for the time being.
Investigators said he entered an unlocked back door to Douglas’ home in the early hours of the morning of April 6. His defense attorney, Jocelyn Stefancin, said after recording video of the sleeping woman on the couch, he turned to leave and bumped into a chair.
“She was startled awake,” Stefancin said. “She reached for the phone. He put his hands over her mouth to stop her. He can’t explain what happened (after that).”
Wadsworth police knew what happened after watching video that was on Ramsay’s phone. Thompson said Ramsay placed the videos in a password-protected file on his phone named “Dark.”
His password for the file? “Murder,” the prosecutor said.
Thompson’s account of that fateful night was in contrast to the public defender’s.
He said the medical examiner’s report showed that Douglas suffered a broken bone in her face after being struck. Her clothes were torn off and Ramsay performed several gruesome sexual acts to her naked body.
When it was getting late and he knew his parents would soon be getting up in the morning, he discarded her body in a 1½-by-2½-foot closet. He piled clothes, shoes and a vacuum cleaner on top of her. Her body wasn’t found for three days.
Thompson said Ramsay’s “deviancy” wasn’t exclusive to his night in Douglas’ house.
“He met with men on a dating site (Grindr),” he said. “He had sex with them or robbed them.”
The prosecutor said Ramsay had been investigated by Wadsworth police for carjacking.
Police found a journal, which included fantasies of murder.
One line read, “I want to stand over someone’s dead body,” Thompson said.
- During the sentencing hearing, Gavon Ramsay was described by a forensic psychologist as a sexual sadist who had a mental illness that made it difficult for him to feel empathy toward others.
- Investigators said Ramsay kept a notebook of violent fantasies, which included: “I want to know what it feels like to stand over someone’s dead body.”
- Ramsay strangled Margaret Douglas, 89, in her home. He spent more than 2 hours there, sometimes hiding behind a chair in the living room and filmed the sexual assault on his cell phone.
- Christine Ramsay testified that she believed the drug Zoloft, prescribed to her son as a teen, was to blame Douglas’ death. Douglas’s niece testified that she believed her aunt was used by Ramsay as a “trial run” for other murders.
The former Wadsworth High School student was arrested April 16. He was later indicted by a grand jury on nine counts, including four counts of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, one count of kidnapping, one count of aggravated burglary and one count of gross abuse of a corpse.
He was tried as an adult. Because he was a juvenile when he committed the crimes, he was not eligible for the death penalty.
Ramsay elected to withdraw his original plea of not guilty and entered a plea of no contest in connection with the brutal killing of the widow.
“He wanted to kill somebody just to see how it felt,” Thompson said. “He showed no remorse to anyone. He wasn’t repulsed. He was excited.
“No outside factors caused him to do it. He had been writing about murdering and raping people for months.”
Before Kimbler read the sentence, Ramsay did show remorse.
“I wish I had the words to express how sorry I am,” he said.
If one listens to Stefancin and Ramsay’s mother, Christine, it was the prescription drug, Zoloft, that caused the aggressive behavior. Patients take the drug to battle depression.
Thompson said Ramsay also was drinking as much as a fifth of vodka a day — which he stole from convenience stores or from his parents. He also was smoking marijuana, taking LSD and ADHD medicine Concerta.
He said if it wasn’t for a mistake by Ramsay, who dropped a white plastic glove while exiting Douglas’ home, he might not have been caught.
Police also found Douglas’ red wallet in Ramsay’s bedroom.
“The wallet was a trophy, just like he read about with (serial killer) Ted Bundy,” Thompson said. “He was collecting trophies. He was accelerating.
“By his own admission, if he had not been stopped, he would have killed again.”
Thompson pushed hard for the life sentence without parole. Stefancin pleaded with Kimbler to sentence him to 20 years to life in prison.
Stefancin said Ramsay had a “toxic level” of Zoloft in his system.
“It’s not supposed to be prescribed to children under 18,” she said.
He was taking 100 mg on a daily basis. He no longer is taking any medicine and has reportedly found God.
Ramsay met with family friend, John Wilkie, formerly of Wadsworth, eight to 10 times at the Medina County Juvenile Detention Center.
“Gavon wanted to hear God’s voice,” Wilkie testified.
“The heinous act that was committed is so prevalent in today’s society. To say there is no help for Gavon is false. We are all capable of change.”
Christine Ramsay said her son was a “sweet child.” He was the second-oldest of four boys. She said he was sexually abused by a neighbor when he was 7.
When her husband, Steve, was diagnosed with leukemia, Gavon suffered a crying spell at school.
“It was a very difficult time,” she said.
Christine Ramsay said her son punched his father in the mouth after she found a marijuana smoking device in his room. She said Gavon was acting erratic and out of character.
“This thing we’re here for today is not my son,” she said.
Once he stopped taking prescription drugs, he became “our Gavon,” Christine Ramsay said.
Thompson challenged her about her son drinking the liquor.
“If I had known, I would have stopped him,” she said. “Could you be a little more hostile?”
The prosecutor asked what could have caused her son to kill a 98-year-old woman.
“I don’t know that,” she said.
Gavon is segregated from the adult population at Medina County Jail. He has complained about some remarks other inmates have made to him.
He has asked to be out of his cell more, but Medina County Sheriff’s Office personnel can’t allow that when other inmates are out of their cells.
Cindy and Patricia Leasure, Douglas’ niece and great niece, spoke on her behalf.
“Only two people knew what happened in that house, and one is not here,” Cindy Leasure said. “Margaret loved life. She couldn’t wait until she turned 100.”
Her husband found Douglas in the small closet.
“We will never forget that sight,” she said. “To do horrible things to your body after you’re gone is unfathomable. This was a 98-year-old woman.
“The defendant has some obsession with killing and harming older people. It’s very disturbing. If you let him out of prison, he’ll harm someone again.”
Patricia Leasure called Ramsay “pathetic and a coward. You prey on the weak. I hope you’re haunted every day of your life. All of your actions were blatantly evil. All of your actions were for your pleasure. You have no moral compass.
“He will kill again.”
Kimbler said in her opinion, it wasn’t a crime of passion.
“It was premeditated,” she said.
“He lacks empathy for others. It was determined the defendant appears to be sexually aroused from the physical and the psychological suffering of others.”
She said he is unfit to re-enter society.
The sentencing came as follows:
- On the first count of aggravated murder, he received life in prison without parole;
- Five other counts were merged into count one;
- On the count of aggravated burglary, he was sentenced to 10 years;
- On the count of kidnapping, he was sentenced to 10 years;
- On the count of abuse of a corpse, he was sentenced to one year.
- He will receive 263 days of credit for days served.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at firstname.lastname@example.org.