SANTA ANA, Calif. – A desperate five-day search for a 9-year-old boy abducted by his father in Southern California ended in Mexico, where the man died after being hit by a bus and the boy was found safe across town, authorities said Monday.
Ryan Ramos was found alone Sunday in a Mormon church building in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and arrived in Orange County early Monday, where he was reunited with his family, sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.
He had been missing since Wednesday, when his father, Lonnie Ramos, 46, allegedly shot his estranged wife during a custody exchange and took off with their child.
Gynnae Ramos, the boy's mother, was in good condition Monday at Mission Hospital, where she was recovering from gunshot wounds to the chest, stomach and right eye, Amormino said. Her son was taken to her bedside, he said.
Lonnie Ramos called his father in Washington, D.C., around 11 a.m. Sunday to say that he had left the boy at the church building and that he, too, was in Ciudad Juarez. Lonnie Ramos converted to Mormonism about eight months ago, Amormino said.
The grandfather notified Orange County detectives. Several hours later, Mexican state police contacted U.S. officials with word that an American tourist who strongly resembled Lonnie Ramos had been in critically injured in a traffic accident, Amormino said.
Marisela Ramirez, a spokeswoman for Ciudad Juarez's transit department, said Lonnie Ramos was hit by a bus at 2:35 p.m. Sunday while crossing one of the city's busiest streets and died on the way to the hospital. The bus driver fled but was arrested several blocks away, Ramirez said.
Amormino said suicide had not been ruled out, but Ramirez and local prosecutors in Mexico said Monday the death appeared to be accidental.
Amormino said when Ryan Ramos was found, he wasn't aware that his mother had been shot or that his father was dead.
"He believed he was on an outing with his father," Amormino said.
Amormino said that detectives now believe Lonnie Ramos planned the shooting.
The break in the case came over the holiday weekend when a tipster reported seeing the father and son crossing the Mexican border by foot near Andrade, about 160 miles east of San Diego.
Gynnae Ramos filed for divorce in 2003, and the two had been locked in a bitter divorce and custody battle, court records show.
Gynnae Ramos brought a friend to the meeting Wednesday to act as a witness because she felt there might be trouble, and instead of pulling into the driveway, she passed the house once, made a U-turn and was shot as she approached from the other side, he said.