Long Beach police officials announced at a press conference on Monday, Nov. 18 the arrest of three suspects who allegedly conspired to carry out a murder-for-hire plot in an attempt to kill a 62-year-old Long Beach woman, possibly over a custody battle.
Forty-year-old Holly Ramos and her 40-year-old husband Frank Haverly, both from Monterey County, allegedly enlisted the services of 50-year-old Keith Phillips in an attempt to kill the victim, who is Ramos’s mother, according to police officials.
The three suspects from northern California were arrested last week and booked in Long Beach jail on $25 million bail.
On the day of the conference, the Long Beach Police Department handed the case over to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and presented evidence illustrating how the suspects allegedly conspired to murder the victim. After an arraignment at Long Beach Superior Court, the suspects were transferred to the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
At the conference at police headquarters downtown, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said that a possible motive is the fact that the victim gained custody of Ramos’s two children, ages 2 and 4, after Ramos was arrested on child-endangerment and narcotics charges in Monterey County. He added, however, that the case is still under investigation.
“Unfortunately, we see things like this periodically where there is a lot of emotion,” McDonnell said. “It’s very unfortunate, something that, in this case, was taken to an extreme. There’s no way to explain the kind of behavior we saw in this. To hire somebody to do what was done here is just horrific.”
McDonnell said the name of the victim is being withheld for her protection, but he said there aren’t any other known suspects in the case.
According to Long Beach police, on Oct. 11, the victim was severely beaten with a blunt metal object, similar to a bat, and was nearly suffocated by Phillips, believed to be a veteran who was impersonating a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employee. Police responded at approximately 9:20pm to reports of screaming coming from the victim’s home on the peninsula near 69th Place and Ocean Boulevard.
Before police arrived, Phillips fled the scene, thinking the victim was dead, police said. The victim, however, survived the attack and was taken to a nearby hospital, yet left with “life-threatening” injuries.
“The suspect made it clear to the victim that he was there to kill her and she would not live through the attack,” McDonnell said. “What the suspect did not anticipate was the victim’s will to survive… The victim’s resilience clearly enabled her to fight back and survive the brutal attack.”
Police detectives followed a tip from the victim, who “immediately suspected her family” was involved in the incident and helped detectives track down evidence. In the weeks that followed, Long Beach police detectives conducted an undercover investigation into Ramos and Haverly, who both lived in an RV park in Monterey County. Detectives rented a motor home and conducted surveillance on the suspects and also submitted material that was collected for DNA analysis, resulting in the identification of Phillips.
After 18 search warrants and extensive investigative work, Long Beach detectives learned that Ramos and Haverly had planned out the murder by having Phillips gain access to the victim’s home through impersonation of a DCFS employee.
On Thursday, Nov. 14, Long Beach police arrested all three suspects. Haverly, who was on probation for a narcotics charge, and Ramos were both arrested in Monterey County while Phillips was arrested at a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Menlo Park.
McDonnell acknowledged collaborating on the case with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, VA police, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Monterey County Department of Family and Children’s Services and the Monterey County Probation Department.
“This has been an extensive and exhaustive investigation requiring a significant amount of our resources, however we could not have accomplished it without assistance from agencies,” he said.
McDonnell also extended his gratitude to community members who alerted police of the crime and to the victim’s neighbors, who helped locate a piece of evidence that was crucial to the case, however he wouldn’t specify the nature of the evidence.
According to McDonnell, police detectives are still investigating details, such as the money-exchange transaction involved in the alleged murder-for-hire plot.
Long Beach police detectives urge anyone who may have seen Holly Ramos and/or Frank Haverly with Keith Phillips in or around the Long Beach or Monterey County area on Oct. 11 or Oct. 12 to contact Long Beach Police Robbery Detectives Fermin Gonzalez and Donald Collier at (562) 570-7464.
Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus the tip to CRIMES (274637) or visiting lacrimestoppers.org . ß