Group seeks justice for those who can no longer speak out
■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
Homicide Families Seeking Justice is a Facebook group created by Corinna Moreno, the mother of Daniel Ramirez, who was killed in Hemet in November 2016. Last Friday, Sept. 29, Moreno and her friends and family rallied at the corners of State Street and Florida Avenue in Downtown Hemet, to bring awareness to victims of homicide.
“We used to pack the [City Council meetings] out and now it’s all empty,” explained Moreno. “When they did that [Operation Valley Vigilance massive sweep maneuver that seized 77 firearms in June], Daniel’s name was mentioned, and I’m very thankful for that. Don’t let the city forget who your person is. I don’t want to see this reward money disappear. I don’t want to hear everybody saying there’s no hope, because there is. But you have to put it out there.”
Just this April, Hemet residents Manuel Oláez, 23, and Moses Oláez, 20, were arrested by Hemet Police Investigations Bureau on suspicion of the murder of 25-year-old Daniel Ramirez and the attempted murder of a 17-year-old unidentified juvenile who suffered a gunshot wound to the head. “I just – I feel like I have peace now,” said Moreno.
Belinda Lane, mother of 24-year-old Crystal Theobald, an innocent Riverside woman who was slain in 2006 in a gang-related shooting, recently befriended Moreno after hearing her story on Facebook. She has been supportive of Moreno throughout her crusade.
“Social media is very powerful,” said Lane. “It’s an awesome tool.”
After her daughter was killed, Lane created faux MySpace pages to help the police catch her daughter’s assailants. The eighth suspect was finally caught last year and faces one charge of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, two counts of shooting at an occupied vehicle, one count of gang activity and a special-circumstance allegation of committing murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
“Never give up,” said Lane. “That’s our message. It took me years to get where [Corinna] is. But things like this help you keep going.”
A group of filmmakers who prefer not to be named have followed Lane’s story since 2011. Initially, they intended to create a documentary with aspirations of a feature film; however, due to the prolonged filming period, they’re flexible when considering the direction of the project. Distributors such as A&E and Netflix have shown interest in the project so far, but the filmmakers affirm that nothing is concrete.
“We’ve been along with [Belinda] on this ride for a few years, and she’s become so involved with helping families of homicide victims, so we found out through her that this was going on, and we had to be here for this,” said one of the producers at Friday’s rally.
Cars honked as they drove by as the families of homicide victims waved signs and banners that read messages like “Standing for peace and justice, break the silence,” and “A grieving family.”
Two weeks prior to the arrests of the Oláez brothers, Moreno and her supporters hosted a similar rally on the same street corners. That same night, the Hemet City Council approved $10,000 to be rewarded to anybody with “crime tips in ‘certain’ criminal case investigations” leading to conviction. Just a week after that, the city declared a “War on Crime” and all unlawful activity, backed by Third District Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington and Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin.
One of those “certain” crimes is the case involving 19-year-old Raul “Ruly” Garcia, who was found dead nearly two years ago with gunshots to his chest.
Raul’s mother Maria Ibarra, Abigail Davila, Raul’s girlfriend of six years, and other family members were present at the rally, waving signs and passing out flyers.
Homicide Families Seeking Justice will partner with Tent of Terror at 44134 Acacia Ave. in Hemet, a haunted walk-through maze that will begin Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m., and will continue every Friday and Saturday for the rest of the month. $2 entry, and tacos will be served. Taco proceeds will benefit families of homicide victims.
Moreno and her crew are also planning to hold a toy drive for the children left without a parent due to homicide.
“Christmas is coming soon, and we want to make sure that they get something,” said Moreno.
If you have any information regarding the death of Raul Garcia and are interested in the $10,000 reward, contact Detective D. Purcell at 951-765-2421.
People with information regarding any other homicides are asked to contact the Hemet Police Department at 951-765-2400.