Teens Who Kill for Thrill: Gavon Ramsey & Alyssa Bustamante
Margaret Douglas was a ninety-eight-year-old woman living alone in Wadsworth, Ohio. Margaret was born on September 15th, 1919, in Akron, Ohio. She was a social person and was very outgoing and independent. She enjoyed working in her flower garden and traveling with her husband throughout out her life. Her and her husband Donald chose not to have any children of their own, but Margaret had plenty of friends, neighbors, and nieces and nephews to keep her company after her husband passed away in 2000. She was looking forward to turning 100 years old in 2019.
(Margaret Douglas, right)
In early April of 2018, Margaret’s family and friends were unable to reach her. They were unsure if she was hurt or had fallen. They hadn’t heard from her since April 3rd. They asked the police to do a wellness check on the woman on April 9th. Family accompanied police to search her home, looking for clues as to where Margaret could have gone. Her nephew found one of her shoes in a closet, but soon realized that the shoe was attached to her body. Margaret was deceased in her closet with her clothing partially removed and her bra pulled up to expose her breasts. Those who loved Margaret were horrified.
Margaret’s cause of death was determined to be strangulation. She had fractures to her eye socket and C7 vertebrae as well as several blows to the head. Due to the position of the body and Margaret’s clothing, a sexual tone was noted by the investigators. However, the autopsy did not provide conclusive evidence of sexual assault.
A motive for this crime was unclear. Who would kill a ninety-eight-year-old woman? No items of value were noted to be missing except Margaret’s wallet. Margaret had no enemies and was not involved in any disputes. The crime just didn’t make sense. However, there had been a few car jackings in the area around that time time.
Police spoke with Margaret’s family members but were quickly able to rule them out as suspects. They began to focus on the neighbors. One neighbor was highly suspicious. He was noted watching the crime scene, talking with reporters, and making odd comments to other neighbors about the crime. He became a prime suspect as he inserted himself into the investigation. During questioning, this neighbor described Margaret’s body and figure, mentioning how pretty she was when she was younger. This, of course, raised even more suspicion.
The crime scene investigators collected a glove from the crime scene that contained Margaret’s DNA on the outside and another sample on the inside, likely that of the killer. The prime suspect was tested for comparison but was not a match. His strange behavior may have set off alarm bells, but he was not their killer. The neighbor was eliminated as a suspect.
Police then turned their attention to the car jackings in the area to determine if they could be related. The carjacking was caught on camera and a young man was seen on the security footage getting in the vehicle with the apparent victim of the crime. However, the victim had claimed to have picked up an injured man and the young man on the video did not appear injured. The victim finally admitted to meeting up with someone he met on an online dating app that pairs older men with younger men. The young man he met up with car jacked him instead of hooking up with him. However, they were unable to determine who the car jacker was.
A few days after Margaret’s body was found, a burglary was reported to police. They started to investigate the burglary and found a cell phone that had been left behind. Police unlocked the phone and quickly determined it belonged to a young man in the area that was well known to police for being involved in petty crimes. The man, named Zack, was brought in for questioning. He was noted to have scratches on him, raising police suspicions. Security footage showed that another young man was also involved in the burglary and Zack identified him as Gavon Ramsey.
Gavon was brought in for questioning related to the burglaries and car jackings. He admitted to the burglaries although he claimed to have only taken things of minimal value. He claimed he wasn’t interested in stealing items but was more interested because he enjoyed the thrill of committing the crimes. He also admitted having catfished the man on the dating app in order to commit the carjacking. Police filed charges through the juvenile system for the petty crimes and confiscated his phone to search for evidence.
On the phone, they found several searches related to the murder of Margaret Douglas. They also found photos and videos of Margaret Douglas that were date stamped for April 6th, 2018. What the police found next horrified them to their core. Seventeen-year-old Gavon Ramsey had additional photos and videos of Margaret’s decreased body. Police had found their killer. Gavon was taken into custody.
Gavon admitted to entering Margaret’s home through an unlocked door and taking photos of her as she slept. He then woke her up and started to strangle her. Once he realized she was dead, he spent significant time with her corpse. He took pictures of her after ripping her clothing and exposing her breasts. “This crime was depraved and premeditated and of a nature not previously seen in this community” (Warsmith, 2019) the judge in this case would later comment. Additionally, police were able to find gloves matching the glove at the crime scene in Gavon’s room and Margaret’s wallet in his dresser drawer.
(Pictured Below: Gavon Ramsey)
The eleventh grader was charged as an adult with aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse in Medina County, Ohio. Gavon Ramsey pled no contest to the charges and was found guilty. As he was not eighteen at the time of the crime, he was not eligible for the death penalty. A sentencing hearing would determine his fate.
Gavon’s mother testified that her son suffered from mental health issues and that she had tried to seek help through counseling and medication (Warsmith, 2021). Forensic psychologist Luna Jones examined Gavon and determined “he suffered from conduct disorder, where a patient violates rules and engages in destructive and violent behavior, in addition to a sexual disorder where he is aroused by the suffering of others without their consent” (My Crime Library, 2021). Evidence was also presented that Gavon had depression, ADHD, and alcohol and marijuana dependency. The psychologists believed that the chance that Gavon would commit a similar crime if released was extremely high.
Gavon Ramsey claimed that he was remorseful, stating “I wish I had the words to express how sorry I am” (My Crime Library, 2021). However, a notebook found in his room describing his murderous fantasies led others to believe that he was not remorseful and was a serial killer in the making. Gavon Ramsey was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder as well as 10 years for aggravated burglary, 10 years for aggravated kidnapping, and 12 months for abuse of a corpse. The judge ordered the sentences to all run consecutively. Gavon Ramsey is appealing his sentence.
On October 21st, 2009, nine-year-old Elizabeth Olten went outside to play with her six-year-old neighbor in St. Martin Missouri. Her mother was cooking dinner and expected her home by six in the evening. When Elizabeth failed to show up at six, her mother was instantly worried. Elizabeth was afraid of the dark, so her mother grew even more concerned when she didn’t come home by dark. She contacted the neighbors whose granddaughter Elizabeth went out to play with, but they did not know where Elizabeth was and hadn’t seen her at all that evening.
At that point, Elizabeth was considered a missing child and a huge search party was formed. Elizabeth had a phone, but the calls kept going to voicemail. The police put a track on the phone and were able to determine that Elizabeth’s phone was in the wooded area behind the neighborhood. The search was then focused on that wooded area but came up empty.
Police brought in the six-year-old neighbor girl in for questioning to see if they could find any clues as to what happened to Elizabeth. The girl claimed that she was playing with Elizabeth for a while and that her older sister, Alyssa, was present while the girls were playing. Police sought out fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bustamante to determine if she knew what happened to her neighbor and little sister’s friend. She told authorities she had been made aware Elizabeth was missing but had no clue where the girl was. (Pictured to Right: Elizabeth Olten)
Alyssa did admit to digging a shallow hole in the wooded area that they thought may hold clues to the case. However, the hole was empty and contained no signs of Elizabeth Olten. They were suspicious of Alyssa’s behavior and were granted a search warrant for the home where Alyssa and her siblings lived with their grandmother.
Alyssa Bustamante was born January 28th, 1994, to two parents who were addicted to drugs. She was the result of a teenage pregnancy, and her parents were highly unfit. Her father was in prison and a friend of Alyssa’s claims that he was there for assault with a deadly weapon (Saltzman, 2009). Her mother was an addict and was frequently in trouble with the law as well. For these reasons, her siblings and Alyssa were under the custodial care of her grandparents.
Alyssa struggled throughout her life with mental health issues and had been hospitalized at some point for mental health issues. She was on anti-depressant medication and had a history of self-harm including cutting. She had a YouTube account in which she filmed some alarming videos and listed her hobbies on her profile as “cutting and killing people” (Murderpedia). There was also a video of her encouraging her younger brothers to touch an electric fence. Alyssa also had a history of suicidal attempts.
Upon executing the search warrant, authorities found poems and writing all over Alyssa’s walls, some written in blood. She talked about dark subjects such as cutting, pain, and hurting people. Letters from her father were also taped to her walls. The most disturbing thing they found was Alyssa’s journal. In her journal, an entry on October 21st. 2009 had been scribbled over. This was the day that Elizabeth disappeared. Authorities were able to decipher the writing with backlighting, however. This is what it said:
“I just fucking killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead. I don’t know how I feel ATM (at the moment)… It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the ‘ohmygawd I can’t do this feeling’, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now… lol” (Newcomb, 2012).
Under questioning, Alyssa admitted to sending her sister to Elizabeth’s house to lure Elizabeth out of the house. She then sent her sister home and took the nine-year-old out to the woods to “show her something”. Elizabeth followed her for almost fifteen minutes before Alyssa stopped at a pre-dug grave that Alyssa dug several days before. Alyssa then strangled Elizabeth while watching the life leave the girl’s body. She then stabbed her with a kitchen knife she brought along and cut the girl’s throat. She buried her in the grave and covered her up. Alyssa led authorities to the remains of Elizabeth Olten.
Despite being fifteen years old, Alyssa Bustamante (left) was charged as an adult with first degree murder. On January 10th, 2012, Alyssa entered a guilty plea of second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Her plea deal dismissed the first-degree murder charge although the crime was clearly premeditated. The sentencing hearing, however, would include evidence of the premeditation.
At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution noted that Alyssa dug the grave in advance, sent her sister to secure her victim, expressed desire to kill someone to her friends before the crime, and documented her violent fantasies in her journal. The defense countered that Alyssa was mentally unstable and required mental health care and should therefore be given a lighter sentence. Alyssa was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for the murder and thirty years for armed criminal action with the sentences to run consecutively.
While it’s still possible for Alyssa to be paroled one day, she will have to spend a minimum of thirty-five years in prison before becoming eligible. Alyssa filed an appeal in her case claiming that she would not have pled guilty had she understood the possible effects of a case that was pending at the time, Miller V. Alabama (Bustamante V. Missouri, 2015). That case was pending in the United States Supreme Court and argued that sentencing minors to life without parole was unconstitutional as it is cruel and unusual punishment. Alyssa claimed that had she understood that she may not be eligible for life without parole, she would have opted to go to trial. However, her appeal was denied. Elizabeth Olten’s mother won a civil suit against Alyssa for five million dollars. While Alyssa will likely never be able to pay this amount, it ensures she will never profit from her crime either.
Gavon Ramsey and Alyssa Bustamante were both deeply disturbed teenagers who made a choice to kill an innocent victim. Both chose victims of opportunity that were vulnerable- one a ninety-eight-year-old woman and another a nine-year-old girl. Both sought to commit their crimes for the thrill of the kill. Both murderers showed signs of being deeply disturbed and oppositional behavior. Perhaps their cases can be used to study the warning signs of deviant behavior and help parents and professionals recognize the warning signs. That is the only good thing that could possibly come of Gavon Ramsey and Alyssa Bustamante.
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