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The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office on Thursday charged a man in the cold-case murder of Patricia Ramirez, whose body was found on a hillside above Memory Grove nearly 25 years ago.
Thomas Pennington who was Ramirez's ex-boyfriend is charged with one count of murder in the second degree, a first-degree felony.
Court documents indicate Pennington, now 45, is in custody at the Tipton Correctional Center in Tipton, Mo. Bail has been set at $1 million.
Ramirez, 20, left her residence on the evening of July 8, 1986, and never returned. Her body was found five days later near 700 North Bonneville Boulevard.
Detectives said her skirt was unzipped, her shirt was torn, buttons were missing and her bra was torn in half. One half of the bra was used to strangle her.
Ramirez's roommate, who filed a missing person report, told police Ramirez had left home to meet three people at the now-defunct Crossroads Mall in downtown Salt Lake City, according to charges.
The roommate told The Tribune at the time that Ramirez went to visit a boyfriend in Clearfield and collect a necklace from him and planned to return to her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., the next day. Police have said Ramirez was last seen exiting a bus at 50 S. State Street about 10:15 p.m. on July 8, 1986.
According to charges, police interviewed two witnesses who said they learned Ramirez had been killed when Pennington made statements at a party on the evening of July 8. A third man told police that he drove Pennington and two other men on an errand in which they appeared to dispose of a body.
The man told investigators he drove Pennington and two others to an apartment building, where Pennington and the others went inside, came back out and put something in the trunk, according to charges.
The man told police he then drove to an area next to a hill, was asked to open the trunk and exited the car. The man saw what he described as a "package" similar in size and shape to a body "in particular a body the size of Ms. Ramirez," according to charging documents.
The package was removed from the trunk, and the man then drove the three men to a residence where a party was being held, he told police.
The man who was hosting a party told police Pennington left and later returned with two men. Pennington then told the host that "Patricia [Ramirez] was gone and that she was found over a hill, or on a mountain, or something similar to that," according to charges.
On March 8 of this year, Pennington told detectives he "never wanted to kill [Ramirez] or harm her in that way." Pennington also claimed he last saw Ramirez at a bus stop in Kansas City, Mo., six months prior to her death, according to charges.
Ramirez had moved to Utah to enter the culinary program at Job Corps in Clearfield, police have said. After graduating, she moved to Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the charges were the result of "excellent work" by the Salt Lake City police.
"It's a classic example of good old-fashioned hard work, putting in a lot of shoe leather, not letting go and chasing down witnesses," Gill told The Tribune.