Murdered 22-year-old family speak out one year after death – NBC Chicago
A murder mystery has devastated a local family, and they speak out on the first anniversary of the brutal murder.
“I’m talking to you because I don’t want people to forget what happened to Vanessa,” Carolina Abrams, Vanessa’s godmother, told NBC5 Investigates. “She deserves justice.”
Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez would have turned 23 in September. Her extended family would have celebrated as she had done so many times before, but for her godmother Carolina, these are the days she misses Vanessa the most.
“She loved to dance and our family gatherings, for the most part, ended up dancing, and Vanessa was there with us dancing,” she said.
Vanessa loved to play soccer and was devoted to her youth group at St. Donatus Church, on the outskirts of Blue Island. She was a teaching assistant at Lincoln Elementary in Dixmoor and on her way to college to study education.
A year ago on the afternoon of Monday November 2, 2020, Vanessa, her mother and a family friend drove to Midlothian Meadows Forest Preserve for some exercise before heading to their home. church. The women hiked the trail for about 20 minutes.
According to her family, Vanessa looked tired and went back to the car to wait without them. Her family never saw her again.
A massive police search located her cell at two different locations in the nearby Oak Forest, an apartment complex and a school, but she was not there.
Two days later, her godmother remembered receiving that horrible phone call from the police.
“I just got the call saying they found a body and my husband was standing in the kitchen and he started crying again and then we left,” recalls Carolina.
Vanessa’s body was found in the forest reserve off the trail in the woods, in an area known to teenagers as a place to party and start fires. The medical examiner’s report said she was murdered, claiming her body was partially burned. Her shoes were also missing and she had been strangled with a ligature.
At a press conference not long after, Carolina had strong words for Vanessa’s killer.
“You are a coward, a low life and you really are the scum of the earth,” she said.
Cook County detectives have been quiet about their investigation, but the family said they have kept in close contact with them.
NBC5 Investigates spoke to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart about the case.
“We have several detectives who are actively working on the case and I personally know that they have exhausted recent leads, so this is an active case,” Dart said.
Vanessa’s family said they wanted people to know who they lost – a shy, caring, deeply religious young woman who was about to dedicate her life to children. While their faith tells them that Vanessa is at peace, they are not.
“Whoever did this is a freak and I’m just worried whoever did this has already done it or will do it again,” Carolina said.
Anyone with information about Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez’s murder should contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Office at 312-865-4896.