SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, September 14, Ramon Alberto Escobar, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador, was charged and arraigned in the strangulation death of his cellmate, Juan Villanueva on February 24 at North Kern State Prison located at 2737 W Cecil Ave, in Delano.
Villanueva was serving a life without parole sentence for aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14.
In May of 2022, Escobar was sentenced in a Los Angeles County court to two life sentences without parole after pleading guilty to the 2018 murders of Branden Rideout, 24, and Kelvin Williams, 25, of Los Angeles on September 16th, Steven Cruze, 39, of San Gabriel, and Jorge Martinez, 63, of Santa Monica. Escobar received an additional 124 years added to his prison sentence for previous crimes committed in Los Angeles.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Locator, on May 6, 2022, Escobar was transported to the state penitentiary in Kern County.
On November 12, 2018, Canyon News reported on a complaint filed against Escobar. At age 47, police reports indicated that Ramon Alberto Escobar was facing four counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder and six counts of second-degree robbery. Escobar is now listed as a serial killer.
In a November 2018 press conference, Los Angeles Police Department Captain William Hayes indicated that Escobar had been known to randomly take a bat and beat individuals living in homelessness. This is what happened to Branden Rideout and Kelvin Williams. They were both severely beaten by Escobar and later succumbed to their injuries while in the hospital.
Escobar struck a plea deal by also pleading guilty to the murders of his aunt, Dina Escobar, and Uncle Rogelio, “Roy,” Escobar of Houston, TX. The suspect was interviewed by police within days of their initial disappearance. The suspect initially denied seeing his aunt and uncle on their reported death dates of August 24th or August 28th. Reports indicate he then traveled out of state to Santa Monica, California soon after this interview.
Texas is a death penalty state. In California, the number of murders he was found guilty of committing, could have also made him eligible for the death penalty under special circumstances. In his plea bargain, the death penalty was taken off the table when Escobar pleaded guilty to killing his aunt and uncle in California rather than Texas.
Multiple reports indicate that Ramon Alberto Escobar had been deported six times prior to these murder convictions. Now, at 52, Escobar faces a new murder charge, this one occurring within the prison.