Left and Center: Ramona circa, 1961
Right: Age Progressed to age 59
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: September 2, 1961
Missing From: Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: June 24, 1954
Age: 7 years old
Height and Weight: 4’0″ and 40 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Brown hair, Brown eyes, Ramona’s hair was cut in a pixie style at the time of her 1961 abduction
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A brown/white pullover sweater, brown pants with fine pinstripes, and a pair of flip flops
NCMEC Number: 1176716
Details of Disappearance
Ramona was last seen in Santa Barbara, California on September 2nd 1961. She was last seen leaving her residence located on Oak Avenue at approximately 11:00 am. Ramona and her family were in the process of moving houses at the time of her disappearance. Ramona told her father that she was going to walk to their new house which was 7 miles away at the time in Walnut Park. He merely thought she was joking and didn’t believe she would actually do it.
Ramona was discovered missing approximately a half an hour later by her parents. Ramona was reported missing that night by her father. She was never seen or heard from again. An extensive search was commenced on the route that police believe Ramona took in order to get to the new house. The route was covered by men on foot, horseback, and helicopter. Over 200 volunteers participated in the search for Ramona.
Bloodhounds were also utilized in the search for Ramona and they managed traced her scent for approximately two miles down Modoc Road near the 101 Freeway which was under construction at the time of her disappearance. Investigators believe Ramona was abducted by a stranger where the scent ended.
A witness in the case recalled seeing Ramona speaking with an unidentified man inside of a vehicle. The vehicle was described as a faded blue colored 1953 to 1954 vintage Plymouth. The man driving the vehicle was described as being between 30 and 40 years of age in 1961. He was said to be Caucasian with dark colored eyes and hair. He had a receding hairline and thin features.
The man was noted to be wearing an open collared sport shirt over a white undershirt. Ramona was seen getting into his vehicle which drove away. Ramona’s alleged abductor has not been identified. Two brothers who were known sex offenders were initially suspected of involvement in Ramona’s abduction. They both admitted they had seen Ramona walk by their home and even spoke to her briefly.
The two men denied harming or touching Ramona on the day of her abduction. Both men were eventually cleared of suspicion after they both passed lie detector tests in regards to the case. Ramona was the second Southern Californian girl to disappear within a two week period. In August 18th 1961, Karen Lynn Tompkins was abducted as she walked home from from art class.
Investigators believe that both Ramona and Karen’s abductions are connected. Investigators also believe the 1962 abduction and murder of Dorothy Gale Brown is connected to the cases. Brown was kidnapped on July 2nd 1962 after she left her residence on her bike to go to a local car wash in Torrance, California to purchase sodas.
Dorothy’s bike was later found abandoned by her father at 8:30 pm. The next day, articles of Dorothy’s clothing were found in beer cans. At noon, two skin divers discovered Dorothy’s body floating in a kelp bed about 150 yards off shore. It was estimated that her body was in the water for 6-8 hours before she was found. Her murder remains unsolved.
Investigators have noted similarities in the Tompkins case and Brown case. Both girls were 11 years old and had blonde hair. They both disappeared at roughly the same time during the day and from only blocks apart. Investigators believe Ramona is likely deceased due to passage of time and since the circumstances of her disappearance are suspicious.
Investigators believe Ramona was a victim of serial killer, Mack Ray Edwards. They also believe Karen Tompkins and Dorothy Brown were other victims of him. Edwards is believed to be responsible for up to 20 murders and disappearances of children throughout a 16 year time period. He was an active killer from 1953 up until 1969.
Edwards wasn’t arrested until 1970 when he and a teenaged accomplice kidnapped three girls from their home in Sylmar. The girls managed to escape and were rescued. Edwards was fearful that the girls would identify him as their kidnapper. Edwards surrendered to police in 1970 and confessed to the molestation and murder of six children. Edwards was charged with three of these killings.
Edwards confessed that he abducted, raped, and murdered 8 year old Stella Darlene Nolan on June 20th 1953 in Compton, California. She was missing for 17 years until he led authorities to her remains. A highway crew found her skeletal remains in March of 1970 after being led there by Edwards direction. She was his first victim.
Edwards also confessed to killing 16 year old Gary Rochet who was found shot to death on November 26th 1968 in Granada Hills, California. He also confessed to killing Donald Allen Todd who was 13 when he disappeared from Pacoima, California on May 16th 1969. He was later found shot to death after being sexually assaulted.
Edwards additionally confessed to the 1956 murders of Brenda Jo Howell and Donald Lee Baker. They both disappeared from Azusa, California on August 6th 1956 and were never found. Brenda was Edwards sister in law at the time. He also confessed to killing 15 year old Roger Dale Madison who disappeared on December 16th 1968. His body was never found.
Edwards was not charged with killing Howell, Baker, or Madison since their bodies remain missing but investigators are certain he was responsible for what happened to them. Investigators suspect due to the gap between his crimes, he likely had many more victims. Edwards victims usually ranged from seven to sixteen years of age.
Investigators believe Edwards was also responsible for the 1957 disappearance of Thomas Eldon Bowman and the 1960 disappearance of Bruce Howard Kremen. Neither boy has been found but Edwards once wrote a letter to his wife saying he left out his confession to Thomas Bowman’s murder to police.
Edwards wasn’t officially named a suspect in Ramona’s case until 2011, 50 years after her abduction. Investigators have stated he matches the description of Ramona’s supposed abductor and he also owned a vintage Plymouth vehicle. Edwards was working on at the Freeway 101 construction site when Ramona disappeared and investigators believe he buried her body in the area.
Investigators searched the area of Freeway 101 for her remains but nothing was found and it has since been demolished. Despite this, investigators are convinced Edwards probably killed Ramona. Investigators have attempted to uncover the remains of Edwards other victims in recent years but nothing has ever been found. Edwards hung himself in prison on October 30th 1971.
Ramona was a second grade student at the time she went missing. Her parents and grandparents are both deceased but her older sister is still alive and hopes to find out what happened to her sister. Ramona’s body has never been found but foul play is suspected in the case.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Santa Barbara Police Department 805-897-2300