Detective In Ramirez Death: Don't Assume Suicide

By: Joe Strupp A detective investigating the surprising death of San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News journalist Richard Ramirez stressed Friday that the incident had not been confirmed as a suicide, despite recent speculation.

Det. Jason Boberg of the Livermore, Calif., police department said Ramirez -- who was found dead in his backyard Wednesday morning by his wife, Janet Dalke -- could have taken his own life. But he pointed out that evidence is still inconclusive.

"At this point, at face value, it does have the appearance of a suicide, but it could be at the hands of another," Boberg told E&P. "There is a definite possibility of suicide, but it is premature to actually call it that. The injuries, while they could be at his own hand, could have been at the hands of another."

The death of Ramirez, 44, has shocked the Mercury News newsroom, as well as many in the news industry who knew the veteran reporter and editor. Boberg said Ramirez was found at about 7:55 a.m. by Dalke after spending the night at home with her. Boberg said the journalist had a traumatic injury to his torso, but declined to be more specific.

Other news reports have said Ramirez was stabbed in the stomach. "If there was someone else involved, we would not want to put out more specifics," Boberg said about his reason for limited information. "It was just one injury." The detective added there was no sign of forced entry to the property.

Dalke has told the Mercury News that Ramirez was concerned about ongoing layoffs at the paper, but Boberg said he had not finished interviewing people who might offer a reason for a suicide: "At this point, that is one of the biggest things under investigation. If it is a suicide, what would be the motive?"

The detective said he has not had the opportunity to speak with everyone who has been in touch with Ramirez: "I want to make sure I have the bigger picture. ... It is a suspicious death investigation, it is not a homicide investigation. We are just trying not to jump to conclusions."


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