Third suspect charged in 1991 cold case murder


Pedro Covarrubias Ramirez, 40, was jailed this week for murder. He was only 19 years old on August 31, 1991. That's when police say he, his brother Benito Covarrubias Ramirez and another relative, Alejo Garcia Ramirez, brutally stabbed and shot a man to death outside a Houston-area night club.

The victim still has not been identified. He is known only as "Mario."

According to court documents, Mario's body was found in a vacant lot off Gazin Street and Old Clinton in Denver Harbor. He had been stabbed 12 times and shot nine times in the back of the head, officials said. Tire impressions led to the body, but there were no shell casings at the scene and no other evidence.

After all leads were investigated, no suspects were identified and the case went cold.

Almost 21 years later, the Houston police Department assigned another investigative team to the case. They reexamined the autopsy report on the victim, which stated his stomach was empty of food and his blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit at the time of death.

The officers also looked back at an interview conducted in 2001. According to police, a witness told investigators a man from his neighborhood known as Mario was found dead in a field in Denver Harbor. The witnesses said Benito Ramirez spoke to him the next day and bragged about committing the crime along with Pedro Ramirez and Alejo Ramirez. Benito Ramirez allegedly told the witness they shot and stabbed Mario outside the El Ray bar and then dumped his body.

HPD's 2012 investigative team re-interviewed this witness, who told them Benito Ramirez also had pointed out the victim a week earlier, saying "there's the guy who took my papers. I'm going to kill him," court documents state.

The witness told police he went to a birthday party for Benito Ramirez's daughter in 1991 and Benito Ramirez told him the story of what happened that night while his two accomplices laughed.

Benito Ramirez revealed to the witness that Mario had allegedly broken into Benito Ramirez's car and stole his cassette tapes and wallet, including some legal documents.

In an alleged plot for revenge, Benito, Pedro and Alejo Ramirez lured Mario out of the El Ray bar. Benito and Pedro Ramirez grabbed him while Alejo Ramirez stabbed him several times, court documents state.

Mario was able to get away, but his alleged attackers caught him and forced him into the trunk of Benito Ramirez's car. They then reportedly drove him to the field in Denver Harbor, took him out of the car and Benito Ramirez shot him in the head multiple times.

Because they had been drinking that night, the trio returned to the scene hours later to make sure Mario was dead. Pedro Ramirez then stabbed the body, but he cut his own hand in the process because the body was stiff.

HPD investigators spoke to Pedro Ramirez who said he was with his brother, Benito Ramirez and another relative, Alejo Ramirez, on the night Mario died. He also admitted to helping hold Mario while Alejo Ramirez stabbed him.

Police also spoke to Alejo Ramirez who admitted to his role in the crime and confirmed the witness' story.

Pedro Covarrubias Ramirez was charged with murder Tuesday. He was being held Friday at Harris County Jail with bond set at $80,000.

Benito Covarrubias Ramirez, 49, was charged with murder June 6. He remained in Harris County Jail on Friday where he was being held without bond.. He is also charged with felon in possession of a weapon in the same court.

Alejo Garcia Ramirez, 41, was charged with murder on June 11 and arrested in Stilwell, Oklahoma on June 14. He is awaiting extradition back to Houston.

Anyone with information on the identity of the victim is urged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

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