DEBARY, Fla. — Neighbors say the DeBary woman allegedly killed by her 15-year-old son was deeply religious and supportive of the son now accused of strangling her.
Deputies said Gregory Ramos confessed to killing his mother, 46-year-old Gail Cleavenger, by strangling her at the family’s home on Alicante Road late Thursday night after the two fought over his grades.
Ramos then used a wheelbarrow to load her body into a van and bury her beneath a fire pit at the River City Church early Friday morning, deputies said.
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"Gail was a sweet heart. Very kind person," said neighbor Lynn Hackett.
Hackett said the family moved into the neighborhood five years ago. She said she got along with the family well and would drive the suspect to University High School.
Ramos was also a member of the Orange City police explorers program and had been building relationships with law enforcement.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said Saturday that Ramos showed no remorse for his actions.
"He was a soulless individual who thought he was the smartest person in the room and was gonna outsmart 700 years of policing that was in that area working this case," Chitwood said.
Deputies said Ramos seemed proud of what he did.
"He also stated that he believed he deserved a Grammy for the 911 call," Chitwood said.
Sheriff’s officials said Ramos enlisted the help of two friends to stage a burglary at the home on Alicante. The friends, both juveniles, are also in custody and facing multiple criminal charges.
Ramos and his two friends appeared before the judge in juvenile court and didn't say much.
The judge ordered Ramos to remain in juvenile detention for the next 21 days or until a further court order.
His two friends were released to their homes with electronic monitors.
Prosecutors said they have not decided whether to charge any involved adults.
Fight over grades
According to investigators, Ramos and his mother got into a fight when she asked him about a D he got in a class after he came home from a police explorers event at the Volusia County Fairgrounds on Thursday evening.
Investigators said Ramos ran to his room, coming out around midnight to go to his mother's room and strangle her with his hands until he believed she died.
Ramos went out back behind his house to retrieve a wheelbarrow, investigators said, before coming back inside and finding that his mother had not died.
He told investigators he then strangled her for about 30 minutes until she died, according to Sheriff Mike Chitwood.
Investigators said Ramos dragged his mother's body out of the house into the wheelbarrow before loading her into the family's car and driving toward the Daytona Beach area.
During his drive, he decided to head back home to retrieve a shovel and call two friends, who helped him stow electronics for the cover story that the house had been burglarized, investigators said.
He and his two friends then buried Gail Cleavenger's body and went to a Circle K to get a soda, according to Chitwood.
According to investigators, Ramos went to school the next day and called 911 to report a burglary after returning home. Investigators said he also told law enforcement his mom was missing and her van was still running in the driveway.
According to the sheriff’s office, details of his story weren't adding up to detectives, and Ramos later confessed to killing his mother and implicated his friends under questioning.
During questioning, Ramos told a detective that he'd wanted to be a homicide detective, according to investigators.
Deputies said they recovered the items removed from the home in the staged burglary, including a computer, a Playstation 4, a rifle and other items.
Deputies said they also recovered a shovel and broom used to bury Cleavenger and straighten up the scene around the fire pit.
It took hours of questioning, solid detective work & coordinated teamwork to obtain the confession of Gregory Ramos in the murder of Gail Cleavenger. These are just a few of the people involved last night, monitoring the Ramos interview while chasing down leads. pic.twitter.com/rFefKDMLDX— Volusia Sheriff (@VolusiaSheriff) November 3, 2018
This is the house where Gail and her son lived. @VolusiaSheriff deputies still have house blocked off. This is where deputies say he strangled her. pic.twitter.com/WjknhseYy2— Johny Fernandez (@JfernandezTv) November 3, 2018
Gregory Ramos, 15, is being charged with the murder of his mother, Gail Cleavenger. He confessed to strangling her, burying her under a fire pit at a DeBary church & enlisting 2 friends to stage a burglary scene at his home before reporting her missing. https://t.co/PjVMyuTKNV pic.twitter.com/jPiq6ZU40q— Volusia Sheriff (@VolusiaSheriff) November 3, 2018
The case we worked tonight was one of the most disturbing and saddest I've seen in my career. I have a feeling this is a case we'll be hearing about for years to come. All our hearts break for this family.— Mike Chitwood (@SheriffChitwood) November 3, 2018
The deputies and detectives who worked through the night and into the morning gave this case absolutely everything they had, and I hope the family knows that Gail has all of us fighting for justice for her. God bless Gail Cleavenger and all who knew and loved her.— Mike Chitwood (@SheriffChitwood) November 3, 2018
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